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Content to Hope | Provoketive Magazine
18 Jan 2012

The Author

Alise is married to her best friend and is the mom to four incredible kids. She loves knitting, writing, playing keyboards in a cover band, and eating soup. She also loves making new friends and you can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or at her blog. Alise is the editor of Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression and is currently compiling stories for the book Not Afraid: Stories of Discovering Significance, both with Civitas press.


Content to Hope
ice cream
When I was young, hope was easy. I hoped for a trip to the near-by ice cream stand on a hot summer afternoon. I hoped for the perfect new toy for my birthday. I hoped that I would be able to fake my way through my piano lesson without my teacher recognizing just how little I had practiced.

But as I aged, my relationship with hope grew rather uneasy. Despite my youthful abandon with hope, the adult me has frequently been afraid to hope.

I’m not afraid to share my opinion, even if it’s controversial. I’m not afraid to ask difficult questions, even if it means that I may not find a satisfactory answer. I’m not even afraid of spiders, and those things have eight legs and like a million eyes!

But hope? That one throws me.

For much of my adult life, I have tried to learn contentment. To see what I have as enough. To accept that I am sufficient. To avoid striving. To avoid beating myself up. To avoid looking down on my circumstances.

But in the process of working toward contentment, I lost much of my ability to hope.

I want to believe that hope is good, but it often feels negative. What if I hope for something and it doesn’t happen? Isn’t disappointment a regular companion to hope? Isn’t the point of hope that the thing hoped for is somewhat unattainable? How do I live with hope that is unfulfilled?

Disappointment is one thing if we’re talking about a soft serve ice cream cone, but quite another when we’re talking about a difficult relationship that needs to be restored. A birthday where I didn’t get exactly the gift that I wanted might be bad for a day or two, but a rejection of my creative offerings can feel much more devastating. When the stakes get higher, hope seems like a danger that might not be worth it.

But I have seen glimpses of hopes fulfilled. When I was content to believe that music was something that had been excised from my life completely, hope allowed me to ask for just one more chance to participate in something that opened up so many other musical opportunities. When I was content to think that my writing was just for me and that it wasn’t really for public consumption, hope nudged me to share something that touched people in a way that was more far-reaching than I could have seen.

Yes, hope can be a precursor to disappointment, but it can also be a gateway to joy and excitement.

I want to live in a world where hope is the norm, where we are free to dream for things that seem impossible. I want to be able to stretch my mind open and see things that are beyond what my practical or logical self is able to envision. I want my kids to hope for ice cream and toys and beauty and justice and amazement.

I want all of us – me, my family, my friends, you – to be content to hope.

[This post is part of the Synchroblog on Hope.  For a full list of participants and posts, go here.]

  1. The thing about genuine hope is that it is disruptive and deeply subversive. Slave owners do all they can to eliminate the hope of those they have in bondage. Politicians tell us to put our hope in them, thus making us feel at least somewhat dependent on them or “the system” to have our hopes realized. The hope of God turns the world on its head and leaves the powers exposed for the fraud they are.

    We seek stability and contentment, only to find a hopeless status quo.

    • Well said Adam. I think that contentment is good, but I also think that I often confuse complacency with contentment and THAT is where hope goes to die.

  2. “hope can be a precursor to disappointment, but it can also be a gateway to joy and excitement.”

    I’ve lived with the first part of that sentence for so long. But in choosing hope as my #OneWord365, it’s time for me to embrace the second part of that sentence. Let’s hope together, friend.

  3. I think you speak to an underlying fear in all of us. I choose to be content with you.

    • Indeed – I think that many of us struggle with the idea that it’s okay to hope. It’s certainly a goal of mine to embrace that more and more!

    • Indeed – I think it’s something that many of us struggle with. I welcome your companionship along the way!

  4. Well done. If you’re going to hope it must be something with a possible margin a failure otherwise you would just go do it. Sometimes I don’t have what it takes to gamble on the thin possibility of disappointment. I think I will also choose to be content. It is probably with that contentment as a base that hope emerges and is fulfilled. If not the contentment remains and the disappointment is staved off.

    • That possibility of disappointment is hard, but without hope, we often don’t DO. And since that’s my word this year, it’s important for me to get out there and DO. So there will have to be some hope mixed in.

  5. “…hope nudged me to share…” I love this, it’s exactly what motivated me to write my bit.

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