blog about hope
“Don’t over-think. Just let it go.”
I recently read those words on Instagram, and they instantly grabbed ahold of me. They caused me to examine my heart, and to ask myself these questions: Have I really let go of the past? Have I completely forgiven and chosen to love those who have persecuted me and sinned against me? Have I fully allowed the Lord to heal my heart? Are my scars reminding me of the One who rescued me? And, am I actually pressing onward to become more like Christ with each new sunrise?
If there was a contest for ungratefulness, I’m pretty sure I’d come in first place. Honestly, I do such an incredible job at looking at the negative side of things and nitpicking until I find something to be unhappy about–something that makes me cross my arms and clench my fists.
To be honest, when things don’t go the way I plan, my first reaction is to complain–I gripe and gripe, thinking it will somehow change my circumstances or better the situation. But the truth is this: my complaining only makes things worse. It causes me to harbor discontentment in my heart. And it makes me yearn for control over things I can’t change.
Imagine yourself sitting with an old friend at your favorite little cafe. After excitedly expressing how glad you both are to have gotten together after such a long absence from one another, you take a sip of your macchiato and ask your friend how she’s been doing. Her eyes suddenly fill with tears as she replies, “You know, I’ve been going through a really tough time.”
After she opens up to you about her work stress, her family problems or her physical ailments, you begin to share with her one of your favorite verses, which goes something like, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” She smiles, and both of your hearts are instantly comforted, even though your situations have not changed. What you feel is hope.
Can we be real for a moment, and might I ask you a personal question? Are you exhausted from receiving “advice” about your singleness from well-meaning friends and family members that does nothing but get your eyes rolling into the back of your head?
Well, there was a time when I felt the same way. At times, those bits of advice were presented with beautiful little facades, which sounded like this: “If you guard your heart, save yourself and wait for your future spouse, God will bring the perfect person into your life at just the right time.”
I love fall. I love the sudden need for sweaters and boots, the warm aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg and the beautiful colors of the leaves. Most of all, what I love about the change from summer to fall is that it reminds me that God’s grace and mercy are new every morning. It reminds me of how much I can trust him.
So as you grab a cup of warm cider or hot tea on this crisp September morning, imagine with me this story, which is not unlike one you’ve heard before.
It goes something like this: Boy meets girl. Girl falls for boy and his charm. Girl makes plans for the future with boy. Things get complicated, and those plans don’t work out. Both of them walk away, broken and confused. Months or even years later, girl and boy bring their baggage into every good relationship that comes their way. They want love, but they trust no one.
It was the beginning of May when I glanced outside my living room window and noticed the first signs of spring transforming the world before my eyes. The grass was greener, the sky was bluer and the lilacs were blooming in all their pink-and-purple glory.
As I observed these sweet changes taking shape around me, I naturally began dreaming of all the things I’d accomplish in the coming season—all the books I’d read, the sandy beaches I’d dip my toes into, and the friends I’d laugh and make memories with.
When making a list of things you’re thankful for, how often do you think of your hardships and give praise? How many times do you consider your job loss, family problems or money stress and say, “Thank you, Jesus”?
Well…almost never, right? The same goes for me.
But this morning, as I was completing Day 15 of the Growing in Gratitude Challenge from Revive Our Hearts, I realized just how much I’d been in the wrong by only giving thanks for the good. Seem strange? Read the challenge with me:
Let’s be honest: it’s been an awfully silent summer.
It’s not that I haven’t been writing—oh, I have definitely been writing. God has been doing a wonderful work in me and showing me things I know other people need to hear. But at the same time, I have fearfully kept my mouth shut and avoided the “publish” button more than once.
That’s because deep down, there’s a part of me that’s been saying all summer long, “You can’t publish those posts, because then you’ll be a hypocrite.” There’s a piece of me that looks into the mirror and only sees flaws and mistakes. And I think to myself, “How can I tell the world what I’m learning, how God is changing me, and then wake up the next morning and continue to sin?”
The truth is: I failed.
Not once, not twice, but several times. I have been fighting with my flesh, attempting to serve both God and my human desire to put myself first. To focus on myself. And to sin when things don’t go my way. Sound familiar?
But the truth is also this: One cannot be of the world–doing the things the world does, and thinking as the world does–and call herself a friend of God. I cannot serve two masters.
Earlier this week, after continually realizing my selfish behavior and wrong motives, I decided I’d had enough. I wanted to be done. I knew my selfishness and putting myself first needed to end, but I didn’t know how to do it. It was causing me to be moody, it was putting friction between my family and me, and it was making me absolutely miserable.
Stop. What are you doing?
Why are you covering up who you’ve been? Why are you acting like you don’t have a past? Why are you pretending you can mask your scars with layer upon layer of cheap makeup?
Your scares are there—whether they’re visible or not. The most despaired person can hide behind a smile almost effortlessly. After all, didn’t someone once say that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile?
You know it’s true: Underneath all that cover-up lie deep, dark reminders of things you’ve done and things that have been done to you—things you don’t want to remember. They’re things you don’t want to relive because they hurt you.