Hope deferred

Joy asked me this morning,
“Mom, tell me again ???  ….
WHY did you not allow me to watch many Disney movies when I was little?”
It’s been quite a while since she has asked this question.
But, this time, I’m certain that she heard my answer and she understood.
I answered, “Because, I didn’t want you to have planted in your mind
the “Disney-princess-happily-ever-after” idea.
There are two places you will find this image
run amuck: chick flicks and Disney movies.
It’s a lie, Joy. If you watch those movies, you will begin to think,
‘THAT’S what I want! My parents didn’t have it, but I WILL!’
Every life has SOME of that eye-lash-batting and handkerchief saving,
but it’s NOT what life is made of. Relationships are work.
People are messy. There is reward ..
but marriage is not all daisies, pink chiffon and white stallions.”

I still remember the feeling I had when he first spoke the phrase.
My friend, Charles, is quite wise. He is a good listener. He uses words sparingly. He remembers a good quote and will share it with precise, perfect timing. He is a wordsmith and a writer. He uses gentlemanly charm to ask, “May I offer some advice?” rather than pummeling one with unsolicited direction.

And I still remember the feeling I had when he first spoke the phrase.

Through the years, I prayed for God to save my marriage …
but my main focus …
at LEAST for the last ten years of our marriage …
was
“Lord, please change ME to make ME the person that I need to be in this marriage.”

In the end, there was no change that was enough.
I became single.

And there I sat

dismayed

and perplexed.

All that energy …
all that focus …
all that hope …
for naught … 

Today, I am surrounded by a host of witnesses who are struggling in their marriages …
women who are fighting … on bended knee …
men who are crying out … with raised hands.
They tell me their stories as we stand
beside cold metal buggies in a grocery store aisle,
on the sidewalk in front of my home with Suburbans whizzing by,
at swim meets a midst splashing water and timing buzzers announcing another race start,
at home school meetings where you expect to find “strong” marriages and “healthy” families ….
at church, via email, through Facebook and on the phone.
Some stories I have watched unfold. I have seen the friend beg
and finally lay waste any idea of what to do next.
Some stories are hidden. I have known the couple …
but they appeared happy … healthy … strong in their relationship.
Some stories come from strangers … people who bare their souls quickly after meeting.

These people … new acquaintances, ancient friends, dear hurting souls …
they are disillusioned … perplexed … baffled.

And Charles?
I still remember the feeling I had when he first spoke the phrase…

“Hope …   is a dangerous thing.” 

It sounds like sacrilege. It sounds anti-Christian. Or non-Biblical.
It is most-certainly not a Disney-phrase.
It sounds plain wrong.

But, the more I have talked with him …
the more I have listened to others …
the more I have prayed and cried out to understand “hope”
the more I believe
Charles
….  may be right.

Proverbs 13:12 tells us
Hope deferred makes the heart-sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

‘Tis true, isn’t it? When we hope and do not find fulfillment, our heart becomes
discouraged … lethargic … sick.

I want to do a word study on “hope” …
to see just what scripture says about hope
one of the “three that remain” (1 Corinthians 13:13) …
but one thought that I am certain …

The root of MY problem with hope
was that my hope was improperly placed.

I had this image of what my marriage SHOULD have looked like.
Oh, it was founded upon scriptural description …
but the fact remains that
– for many years –
I looked at my husband
rather than my Lord
to fulfill any hopes that I carried in my heart.
Surely, scripture was written as our guide
not to be our judge.
The verses about husbands
should not be used by wives to judge whether our husband
is measuring up …
but rather by the husband as a guide for his own direction.

And the same goes for the wife.
Or the neighbor.
Or the servant, child or laborer.
In our many roles … wearing the many hats that we wear,
scripture should be our plumb line for our own personal standards
rather than the rule-book we use to judge whether others
are doing THEIR job properly.

And so, I have laid aside the dangerous hope
of holding onto ideas that I have conjured up
through chick-flicks, Disney
or even highly lauded scriptural outlines.

And so, I leave you with the words that I typed into the keyboard just this morning
to a dear sweet friend … struggling:

“when our hope rests in ANY.THING
other than Christ …
other than God’s provision
of all things …
tangible and not …
when our hope rests in ANY.THING
other than a day-to-day knowing
that we really do.not have any control …
then
hope is dangerous.
hope is dangerous …
when we use it to continue to cling to
an image that we have conjured up
of what things “should” look like.”

May your hope
and mine
rest fully
in the day-to-day living
that is under girded, directed and strengthened
by a Father who loves us,
a Son who sacrificed for us
and a Spirit who guides us
faithfully …
day in – day out …
moment-by-moment.
May our hope simply be in Him
not in our own dreams and ideas …
that hope would not be found to be
a “dangerous thing.”

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10 thoughts on “Hope deferred

  1. Comedy didn’t leave “us”, he left “you”. He continues to be there for his children and wishes to spend as much time with them as they will allow. Thanks to Comedy, Joy has a roof over her head, clothes to wear, food to eat and continues to be taking great care of as a result of Comedy’s love for her. He has never “left” his children nor will he ever!

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  2. James, sorry, but I am just not going to walk around on egg shells any longer and allow your mother to spout such things any longer. She can say what she wishes but I I won’t let it slide without at least correcting it with Joy.

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  3. 1. Comedy didn’t leave “us”, he left “you”.

    A family sticks together. No matter what. For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. “Before God, marriage is a lifetime relationship that should never be severed by human action. The man who hates and divorces his wife, ” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 2:16) You tell me all the time that you do not lie. How am I supposed to know that’s true? If you can make the biggest lie possible in front of God, my mother, and my family and not even think to apologize to any of us (not that that would hardly fix it), how am I supposed to believe you now? The people like you who call yourself Christians are part of the reason I don’t call myself a one. Because I will be seen as someone like you.

    2. Thanks to Comedy, Joy has a roof over her head, clothes to wear, food to eat and continues to be taking great care of as a result of Comedy’s love for her.

    Also thanks to Comedy, Joy also has to go to public school where no one likes her and she is put through more stress than necessary. Also thanks to Comedy, Joy has to go to monthly counseling sessions to work out her constant anger and depression and to come up with new strategies to tolerate him.

    3. He has never “left” his children nor will he ever!

    Ummm, no. As stated before, a family stays together no matter what obstacles are faced. You left her, but we continue to stick together. You left us. If you didn’t want mom to blog about the things you have done, then you shouldn’t have done them. She refuses to say anything negative about you. She has stated nothing but simple facts like you did not love her and you divorced her. Are those not true? Or are you ashamed of them and you don’t want anyone to know? Well either way, people will know. Her boyfriend will not have the same last name as I do. That will make it obvious. If someone asks is she not allowed to answer? Someone will know then. The internet is a form of communication where anything can be freely written that person wishes. And you have no control over that. Only your own actions.

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  4. Joy, some of the scripture you quoted is correct but you should also realize that God understood that there would be times in which a couple would no longer be able to stay in a marriage and as such, scripture provides exceptions to staying in a marriage with a spouse. Even though your mother may not “talk bad about me” to you, over the past three years she has fed your fears and confirmed your thoughts and sadness that your daddy left “us”(you) instead of encouraging you and telling you that I left her and would always be here for you and your sister and brother. Before I moved out of the house, I talked to her about how important it was for the both of us to alleviate any fears that you guys may have about me not being there for you and that we needed to stress to you guys that we both would always be here to love and support ya’ll. She said, “No…I will not make this easy on you!” What a shame it has been for a mother to use her children’s fear of being abandoned for her own agenda. By continuing to say such things as “he left us” or “he raped us when he moved out”(which by the way, she claims to have never written a blog about me “raping” ya’ll and has removed that blog from this site), she continues to manipulate and cause pain to her family. There were many reasons I could not stay married to your mother, one of those being her desire for drama and the other was because of her manipulative ways. These blogs of hers weave such a web of manipulation that accomplishes her mission of casting herself in such a “Christian and righteous” light” to her children and to those who read her blogs. In your eyes and in the eyes of those that are so blinded by her web postings, your mother wasn’t the cause of our divorce at all and thanks to me, I have caused my children so much harm. Well Joy, I am sorry to hurt your feelings but I am sorry that your MOTHER has caused so much harm to you and her actions resulted in your mother’s and father’s divorce. I am sorry that you have had to attend counseling because of our divorce. I am not sorry that you have to attend public school because I in fact feel that public school is a great place for you to learn and grow. I am sorry that there are children who do not like you but in life, even as adults, you will have to work or live in a community where some people may not like you. There is never a place in life where you will be shielded from people that do not like you. You will find this even in Church. And you know what Joy???? It’s okay that you are not liked by some people because the fact remains you are still loved by many! I am sorry for some of my past actions and I HAVE apologized for them to you and to your siblings. I cannot and will not dwell on them. I cannot go back and change the past. I will not however, apologize for divorcing your mother. I will apologize that I married someone who does not have her chldren’s best interest at heart and uses my love for you guys as a way to benefit her agenda. I also apologize that all this drama has to be played out in front of many on this website. I love you girl and as always, WILL ALWAYS BE HERE FOR YOU…as I have been from the beginning.

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