I’m in a challenging season right now. I’m not the guy who has it figured out and looking to sell my online course to teach you how I succeeded in life. Just in the last month, I lost my job, my truck and am in the process of losing my wife to cancer. My hand is full of uncertainty and it feels like the deck is stacked against me. And I don’t like playing that game.
I’m writing this post today for me. This is how I started blogging 13 years ago. My first audience was myself. I wanted a record to look back on and see the progression of my thinking and experience so I could better remember the story. Some of those early blog posts are funny, and some are downright embarrassing. I’m glad I get a chance to change my mind along the way.
I write today because I believe some of you might be in the exact place I am, but need a voice to articulate your feelings. Some of my favorite authors do that for me. I might be confused or unsettled in my mind, only to read the thoughts of another and find out that there is a new language available to me. It’s a new language that provides me hope.
So how does hope work? I use that word everyday. I say out loud; I hope it doesn’t rain….I hope you have a safe trip…..I hope to see you soon. Is hope nothing more than wishful thinking? If I think real hard, will I end up getting what I want? Is there anything wrong with this Desire?
I now hold fast to the idea there is nothing wrong with my hopeful or wishful thinking. I spent years trying to convince myself otherwise. I once believed that the key to life was in letting go of what I want, that all my desires are selfish and I should daily lay these down and take up a life of service to others and therein I would find happiness. It sounded good, but in practice, it felt incomplete.
What I discovered is that I cannot have life to the full without first being full of desire. I can’t experience anything fully by not wanting it. As I was taught to fear my desire and distrust its motive, I learned how to destroy it. But in the process, I destroyed it all. Like a napalm bomb, I took out the good with the bad. Being left without Desire is to be left without Hope.
Now my Desires are the starting point of my Hope. What is it that I want today? I want work that matters. I want a reliable vehicle that runs. I want to live long with the wife of my youth. I want all this and more.
How does Hope influence these three desires? Does Hope get me what I want? My old answer was, no, it doesn’t, so stop wanting so much. My new answer is actually a new question: How acquainted am I with my Longings?
An ancient proverb says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a Tree of Life.” The constant in this equation is Desire. I cannot have Hope without Desire. Neither can I have Fulfilled Desire without Unfulfilled Desire. I can’t just go along not wanting something and suddenly have it granted.
My old way of thinking was nothing more than a strategy of avoiding pain and disappointment. I will never go through life unscathed by the pain of unfulfilled Desire. I won’t ever get all that I want in this life. But I refuse to stop wanting and stop hoping for it.