The finish line is in sight! Just 3 more days of posts, y’all!
Today’s FMF prompt is hope. I mentioned yesterday that I had a topic in mind that wasn’t the prompt, but when I looked at the prompt for today, I decided to hold off and use this for today.
If you’ve read my blog a time or two, you know I’m a fan of Annie Downs. She’s kinda awesome.
I was first introduced to her almost a year ago at Q Women, where she gave a talk about her comforter. So many of the words she said in that talk stuck with me, and have helped me so much the past year.
A couple weeks ago, I noticed a video of her talk was available on Q’s website. I was so excited! I’ve been at a place where I needed to hear her words again, so I hunkered down one night and watched. (I’ve since rewatched 3 or so more times, and gotten something different from it each time).
^ STOP READING THIS AND WATCH IT. SERIOUSLY. IT’S WORTH 18 MINUTES.
Be joyful in hope. I’ve probably seen that verse hundreds of times… but it was the way she said it that made it click.
When I think of hope, I think of what I’m hoping for: future plans, what my days look like. Hope was more about the thing/desire/ want I was hoping for, and not the action of hoping.
I never thought about how to hope. The how behind it– the action of the hoping, the way I hope for something.
Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. (Romans 12:12 The Voice)
Rejoice for hope. Don’t just rejoice because of the things you’re hoping for… but rejoice in the process. In the waiting. Hope is around the corner– but be joyful on the journey to hope, too.
There is joy in the waiting. There is joy in the process of hoping– not just in the things we hope for. There doesn’t have to be joy at just the end, when our hopes become reality– because for some of us, we’ll be waiting for joy for a long time.
Or we’ll be waiting for a joy that never comes.
Because sometimes, the things we hope for won’t happen. And if we wait to be joyful for things that don’t materialize… well, then what are we going to be joyful about?
As much as I hate it when things I plan don’t work out, choosing joy before I know the ending gives me something to be happy about. Even when circumstances change, my joy doesn’t. My rejoicing in the hope doesn’t.
Even if the things we hope for don’t materialize, we can find joy in the hoping.
One of the biggest takeaways from Annie’s talk is a question that rattled me to the core:
“How do you craft a life that brings God glory and brings you joy, even if God doesn’t answer your deepest prayers?”
If all the things I hope for don’t happen. The hopes, the dreams, the plans… if they don’t come to pass in the way I want them. How do I find joy in that life?
Some days, I’m not so sure.
Honesty hour: I want to live a life that I planned out. I want that picket-fence style dream that I have envisioned in my own head–where I’ve used the gifts and skills God has given me to map out exactly what I think my life should look like. I don’t want anything dramatic and out of the realm of what I know I can do. I just want what I want. Even if it over or underestimates what God wants me to be.
As I’ve learned since August, this mode of living doesn’t exactly work. I used the gifts and skills God has given me, in the place I thought I was meant to be… and it all went to hell. And now, I’m back to square one, trying to figure out what he wants me to do, and how he wants me to do it.
Wouldn’t it have been easier if I’d just given that to Him to figure out in the first place?
(Duh, Jordan. But at least God threw me a bone for awhile and let me try to figure it out, right?)
As I’ve learned lately: God is so much bigger than what I’ve imagined for myself.
Anywho, back to the topic at hand. How do I create a life for me that I both love, and that glorifies God? All the while hoping that someday, somehow, my deepest desires and hopes are fulfilled?
(Honesty hour again: I don’t even know if I know what my deepest desires are yet. Actually, I know I don’t have a wild clue what my deepest desires are. My desires have always been pretty simple: to teach, spend time in Mexico as much as possible, travel, write… nothing too deep there. I guess I could ask. This might be a good time for that, actually. /end honesty hour)
I think the key for me to craft this kind of life– this life that brings joy to both me and God– is to live a life of joyfully hoping.
To live focusing on the how we hope, the actual hoping, instead of the product of what we’re hoping for. Because, as has happened to me, the things that we hope for can either not happen or blow up in our faces (both have happened to me. lately.).
So, why wait for the answer to what you’re hoping for to find joy? Be joyful in the fact that you have something to hope for. That you have this desire, this hope, this dream of something bigger and better than yourself. Find the joy in getting there. And find the joy in the act of hoping– of desiring for, yearning for this thing. There is joy there.
Even if the actual thing or dream disappates, you have this joy to hold you until the next dream to hope for comes about. It might be hard to hope again, if the hope doesn’t materialize. But, you’ll have a joy to keep you, and to hold you until your hope and God’s hope for you align. It might take awhile, but He knows what He’s doing, I think.
On that same wavelength, I think trust is a factor when trying to craft a life of joyfully hoping. God has already given us what we need, right? We have to trust that He knows us. And that he’s there, in the hoping, walking with us through it all. We have to remember that He knows us better than we know ourselves– and he knows the plans that are best for us. And sometimes, that means having to wreck the plans we have to show us what’s better.
“But God is bigger. And his dreams for you are bigger.”
His dreams are so much bigger than the ones I have–both the known and unknown ones.
Emily Freeman shared a quote earlier today that resonated with me:
Instead of a map, He offers us His hand.
In this crazy life, I want a road map of what’s what. I want the pit stops, the road blocks, the detours and exit signs. I want a full-scale in-color map, with step-by-step directions of where to go and when.
God doesn’t work like that, much to my chagrin. He instead takes us by the hand, and leads us to a life full of joyfully hoping for what’s coming next. It may not be what we’re hoping and dreaming for in the moment– and we may not know what’s going to happen– but he promises it will be full of Him. And that’s truly what we need. Everything else is a bonus.
To hope for something– a good grade, a new job, a spouse, a new place to live, whatever your heart hopes for– is a beautiful thing. Hope is really something beautiful– to believe and expect for the unseen.
It’s also a scary, hard thing– to hope in something that may not come to pass. To dream something that may never be realized how we want it to.
Despite that, we remain joyful in our hope– and trust that God’s hopes for us surpass what we could ever dream up for ourselves.
May we find joy in the hoping– that someday, we can find a life that both gives God glory, and us joy. Even if the hopes and dreams we wanted don’t happen as we imagined them.
Even if he doesn’t answer my deepest hopes and prayers… He is still good, y’all. So, so good.
Let’s rejoice in hope– for hope in itself is something to be joyful about.
The Unmaking-Nichole Nordeman– Y’ALL. Sarah Bessey introduced me to this song, and it’s basically my life right now. It’s so on-point.
Come Away- Jesus Culture– I have a plan for you, it’s going to be wild, it’s going to be great, it’s going to be full of me… clinging to these words tonight.