Hope

Posted on January 5, 2015

(Note: Continuing along the line of sharing my journey from 2014. This year has shaped a number of things in my soul, and it feels important to start the year writing about this journey. It appears I am not alone)

Without a vision, I hear, people perish. I might say it this way. When I stopped dreaming, I started to let go of life. I stopped dreaming, because I stopped hoping. You know—hope—that way of thinking that has inherent expectations of tomorrow, and the next tomorrow. And I stopped hoping, because I had allowed my hope to rest on things which clearly did not have the ability to sustain such weighty human treasure.

Simple things that we all expect and don’t even know we expect, provide tomorrows fuel for todays actions. We put money in a bank, because we expect it to be solvent. We fill a car with gas and without a thought, expect that car to run for the next three hundred miles. Every day is filled with the simple actions of hope. Tomorrow will be the natural result of all the days and investments and actions that have led up to it. Unless its not.

You will be happy to know (or perhaps I should just be content that I am happy) that I am dreaming again. That hope is floating back to the surface in simple ways, and I still fill my car with gas. I felt I should tell you that before I tell of the journey. Because in the journey of this last year, I stopped Dreaming, Hope was locked behind a door somewhere, and the third person of this trinity, Trust, was given a run for its money.

My problem had been that I built my hope on a pact I thought I had made with God. I will do my part, and He will do His part, and we will all live happily ever after. My tank is full, I can drive freely about the country. That is until circumstances outside of my control, continued to be outside of my control.

You see this pact I thought I had made included, in my mind at least, that my life would turn out a certain way. That tomorrow’s circumstances would be the natural outcome of today’s investments. I had maintained hope, because my tomorrows always seemed to work out. Until they didn’t.

When my long awaited tomorrows were suddenly taken away, I had no category, no place in my soul to take in or understand this new reality. Had God reneged on His deal? Had I so fundamentally misunderstood our agreement that things could turn like this? Either way, reality, my reality was being redefined. Not in small ways. My big picture of How Things Should Be suddenly—was shattered.

Things I had trusted in, hoped in, were gone. I had not been consulted, God had not given me a vote. They were just gone. And with it, my whole thought system around Hope.

Sadly, people often do not know how to be close to people who are struggling. Some simply avoid you. Others comfort themselves by creating reasons in their mind why you must be suffering. Both because of the responses I often got and because of my own tenderness, I chose isolation over trying to swim through other peoples well-intentioned thoughts and ideas. It would be easy to guess about my circumstances, and almost impossible to guess rightly.

When I was young, I isolated from people because of shame and fear. This last year I isolated because I was simply too raw to be me in the context of human connection. This created a great deal of tension inside, when many of my old hopes and dreams were connected to things that required me to not be hidden. You know, things like launching a book, or more important, making an impact in ways your heart feels called.

This was all the more complicated by the fact that my chosen profession not only does not allow isolation, but necessitates meaningful human connection. I hid when I could.

My trust of God and people was at an all time low. Ironically, while it was people I isolated from, it was people who helped begin the journey back. Imagine for a moment if your fear of needles could only be cured by medicine that comes in a syringe. I needed the very thing that I wanted to avoid.

Sometimes strangers via email, or Facebook would tell me that my life made a difference. Sometimes friends would just tell me they loved me. Through the fog of not dreaming, I continually heard the message that my dreaming mattered. Much more important I also heard the message that I mattered. Not my teaching, not my writing, not my work on behalf of the Kingdom; Me. My life mattered and my heart mattered.

But hope felt risky and partly because hope, I knew, would inevitably lead to action. You know, action like, giving your heart again. Action like taking risks. Action like starting to give voice to dreams. And you know what happens when you give voice to things? Its like filling your car with gas. You start to expect things to happen. You dream, and next thing you know, you are in that danger zone again.

So here is what I am learning.

That truth still sets you free, even if that means acknowledging a hard truth that is yet unfinished in your heart.

No circumstance is as solid as it seems, and certainly not as solid as you tell yourself.

That hope based on circumstance will always provide an opportunity for hope to be tested.

That not all people should be trusted, but I need people who are trustworthy in my life.

That my definition of what God says is not necessarily what He says.

That I only own me, and am only responsible for tending my heart. No one else, and no one else’s choices should dictate how I tend my heart.

And the number one thing I learned is the thing I am still learning: That when I stop hoping because of circumstance and start learning to hope in the goodness of God even in painful circumstances, my hope cannot be shaken.

Dreaming is that way of thinking where your mind and heart partner together to generate life-filled possibilities. I am dreaming again. I am putting voice to my dreams. It feels a bit like walking out onto a frozen lake, testing the safety of the ice. But I am walking nevertheless. It is just as dangerous to not give of your life and your heart, as it is to give it in risky places. I am entering a new phase of my life, where things seem much less certain. Because of this, discovering those things that actually are certain, matters more than ever.


  • Angela Roberts

    This one too…

  • joshroberie

    “people often do not know how to be close to people who are struggling.” Very true, and hard to remember in the times you are the one that is struggling. “That when I stop hoping because of circumstance and start learning to hope in the goodness of God even in painful circumstances, my hope cannot be shaken.” – Thank you for this!

  • JEANETTE KAY

    Ah… yes… sometimes it is better to be an island while strength, focus and perspective are regained… “Both because of the responses I often got and because of my own tenderness, I chose isolation over trying to swim through other peoples well-intentioned thoughts and ideas.” … and some not so well-intentioned. But still, the walking.

  • Debi Whelan

    This makes my heart happy and it made it even happier to sit cross the table from you and listen to you begin to share plans and dreams about the things that are growing on the inside of you. Success is a fleeting and fickle master, but dreams, born of God, fueled and wrought through fires of loss and pain are precious gifts to those who will receive them. Your best, most authentic, most powerful and fulfilling days are still ahead. You are a gift, Bob.

  • RyAnne

    In my head, you are

  • Snowgirl

    Thank you for putting into words what has been in my heart. This was highlighted to me as I have had Yahweh hold my hand and lead me out to dream again and to trust again, “And the number one thing I learned is the thing I am still learning:
    That when I stop hoping because of circumstance and start learning to
    hope in the goodness of God even in painful circumstances, my hope
    cannot be shaken.”

  • BabsCoppedge

    This was heavy to read. Heavy because you felt like you had no choice but to retreat, to isolate because too many don’t know how to be close to people who are struggling. I think that line was the hardest to read because we’ve all experienced it. We can all understand this to some degree. And it’s heartbreaking because if we just understood that being close to someone who is struggling doesn’t come with an obligation to have “the right words” or “solutions”, but just requires love, then no one would have to retreat when what they need most are the open hearts of those who will just allow them to be them, regardless of the circumstances. (Maybe you could help others through this in “Think Differently, Love Differently?”) Just a thought. 😉

    But then we aren’t left feeling heavy because … Dreams.

    “I am dreaming again.” My favorite line in this blog. You know why? Because it’s filled with hope. And hope is filled with possibilities. And possibilities are filled with all the potential of new life and new experiences and new purpose and … well, you get the point.

    I’ve been asking myself lately this question: do we really lose all hope that’s available to us, or do we lose sight of the One who is hope? Questions. Always questions.

    “It is just as dangerous to not give of your life and your heart, as it is to give it in risky places.”

    There was so much goodness in this blog that I could have pointed to, and others have already, but this line really resonated with me. Because my heart’s tendency is to withdraw for safety, I fully understand how it also begins to wither in the very place I put it away for protection. Living disconnected is just as costly as living connected to risky people. While risky is painful because of others, disconnected is painful because it’s lonely. And lonely, even when in the presence of others, is just a sad, sad place.

    I, for one, am happy to hear that 2015 is beginning with such fresh revelation for you. That God is drawing out lies and depositing truth. And that even though 2014 was a tough journey, it has been fruitful. And while that doesn’t take away the pain, it does bring purpose to it. And purpose always carries life with it.

    Here’s to new life in 2015!

  • Diane Kramer

    Wow! Thank you! Wow! Tears cried and Hope felt! Truth and Hope deposited!
    Hope has been the word on my radar for the past month…and I’ve been reading Ted Dekker “The Slumber of Christianity: Awakening A Passion For Heaven on Earth”.
    Thank you for dreaming again!!!!

  • Dr. Michelle Bengtson

    You tap into an essential truth: every single one of us wants to know that we are accepted, worthy, and loved. Yet when we look to others, they will let us down. We cannot give what we do not have. Yet, we have a Heavenly Father who accepts us, finds us worthy because of what Christ did for us, and loves us unconditionally. He is the very same one who gives us our dreams and asks us to hold on, in trust, that the ride He will take us on will be worth it in the end. I’m so glad you’re dreaming again, and putting voice to your dreams, but I’m sure I’m not even half as glad as He is.

  • “That when I stop hoping because of circumstance and start learning to hope in the goodness of God even in painful circumstances, my hope cannot be shaken.”

    Amen.