So lately I have been finding what it means to hope. Like really hope. not just like the passing word of hope like "I hope so" or "hopefully I'll be able to..." but the real belief that something is going to happen and putting trust in something unseen. Dictionary.com says that to hope is "to feel that something desired may happen" and that when we hope we believe that "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best." I mean we all hopes and dreams of some form or another whether it be for a new car, that perfect job, world peace, great skin, an amazing mate, or new experiences, whatever they may be. But does it always have to be material? What is the depth of what we hope for and where is the evidence of the things that we don't see.
I'll get this part off my chest first, I have recently been re-awakened to hope. For a long time, I didn't believe in the power of the practice of hope. I feel that for a long time, because I had hoped for many things and didn't see them come to pass, that I wouldn't ever receive the things that I had hoped for. Whether it was an amazing show, a great apartment, the hope of more money, relational hopes of the perfect woman, the hope of never being betrayed by friends or experiencing loneliness, or the hope that things would turn out right in the end, I felt that because at a young age, this didn't happen for me, that I wasn't supposed to hope in things. I know this seem backward, but for many people that have consistently seen disappointments, this is how they feel and what they believe. I felt, even as young as 11 or 12, that if I didn't work hard for the things that I had, I would never see any of my hope come to pass. I felt like I had to do everything for myself; finding jobs, performance opportunities, rides to dance classes, acting coaches, an agent, gymnastics lessons, and to a certain extent, there was truth to that. Whether it was true or not, I felt the burden of pulling myself up by my bootstraps. So after a while of hopes dashed, I just felt like I shouldn't reach for bigger things because at some point in time even if I had seen life in some areas, or seen good things so much that I could taste them, my hopes would soon be crushed and I would be just where I was before.
What did this come from? At what point did my lack of hope turn into despair? This is a process I am trying to figure out. A couple weeks ago, I went to a conference where the focus was in hope, and as seeing God as a God of hope. It was almost offensive to me because I have always hoped for things and seen God as one that who wanted us to hope for things, but wouldn't give it to us. Almost that he created hopes just so that they couldn't be reached and we would have to keep striving just to attain something great. But at the same time I wanted to be re awakened to hope. I didn't want to believe that everything I had spent time on to be for nothing. I don't want the things I've worked for or longed for to be something I would never reach. I didn't want my belief in God to be for nothing. I decided that I would give this hope thing a try. While at the conference, the speaker, Bob Hartley, mentioned that another door to experiencing Jesus' love was hope, and being a hopelessly romantic man in need of God's love, I needed to see Him in that light.
I was in class tonight, and the talk was about the Father God's love for us. A lot of times, the way we see our earthly fathers/authority figures is how we view God. We pick up all their deficiencies, and the good qualities, and take that as how God sees us. And I have to admit, as good as the "fathers," including my own earthly father, tried to be for me, they all still falter and we can have wounds from mistreatment. One of the big ones for me has been seeing those figures as wanting good things for me. Like I said earlier, I could just see the view of "God" that I had in my mind of a dude sitting up in heaven on a recliner, drinking a Dr. Pepper out of a bendy straw with his leg over the arm of the chair watching me on TV like "Oh, I'll just dangle this good thing in front of Gabriel, just enough so that he gets a good taste of something great, and then take it away. Then I'll see how he handles it, if he does it in the right way.. Now that, that's good entertainment!" Having that view sucks. Is that how I see God for my life? As insensitive about the small things that matter to me; uncaring about my feelings; demanding; mentally abusive; and unavailable? In my class, we started reading about God's fatherly heart. In the story of the prodigal son which most people know: The son takes his inheritance and leaves, squanders it, works for someone and tries to eat pig slop because he is so poor, comes to his senses and moves back home to be one of his father's servants, only to have his father run to meet him, fully accept him and throw him a party because he is back. Normally we think of this as being a story about the son, but it is so much more; it's just as much about the father. The father in the story loves his son so much that he is overjoyed that his son comes back that he throws a party and gives him his best. If that is supposed to be reflective of God the Father's heart than that's exactly what I need. One that loves me in spite of.. one that will hold me every time I come back. One that looks at me with love and gives me the best things every time. That's the type of love that I need. That I long for. The type of love that I had been hoping for. I need to see God the father's face in the facet of hope.
So now what do I do? I can't quit hoping. I can't stop trying. I won't stop believing that God has the best intentions for me. Some times that means that I have to push through the pain. Sometimes, it means that I have to accept what seems like it could be painful because God is working something that will produce good character in my heart. It also means that I have to make a conscious decision to change my view of God the Father and let go of all the things that happened, or didn't happen in the past. And that hurts. Letting go of something that made you feel a false since of security or a wrong identity, even if it is bitterness or pain, can make you feel all the things that you were trying to push down, and the only way to heal is to allow God to fill those spaces. All I can do is lean on the Father, try to work out my what I thought about Him by reprogramming what I think about him. I'm starting to speak who He is according to the Bible, and believe that even though I may not see it, He has good things for me. I'm allowing Him to reawaken hope in my life; believe, feel and desire again. Even if it hurts and we don't see the expected end/outcome right away. Even though I don't always understand at the present time, but hope and believe that the outcome is going to be glorious.
This time I am believing that God is a good father that is overjoyed when we look to Him, and desires to give us the good, no, the best things. I am believing that even though, just by viewing with our present eyes, that even when I think He is far away He is really right there holding me. I am choosing to believe that He will never let me down, even though there may not be an immediate outcome. God is love, and that's what He does best, and I am choosing to receive that love. Now that I have readjusted my view, I feel like I am on the right path to start healthily hoping again, or at least opening to explore the subject of hoping, because this is probably only the tip of the ice burg...
Sooooo here's the prayer:
God, I want you to reawaken hope in me. Let me see you as a good father who delights in loving me and giving me what will help me grow the most, which will be the best things for my life. Forgive me for not seeing you this way and help me to break the lie that says anything otherwise. Let me lean on you, and trust you every time, even though the loving discipline, the hurt, the growth, and rejoice with what you are doing in me because I believe that you aren't just sitting on your throne and picking on me, but because everything you do is out of love. Help me to see the good things you are doing in me and trust your leadership. Let my hopes and dreams be pleasing toward you and let them meld with yours. And let hope be the anchor of my soul. In Jesus name.
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