Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Problem With Hope

Twenty six years together provides a sense of another person which borders on extrasensory. I can instantly judge her mood, spot the nuance in a word, tone of voice, body language.

Lately she has been trying to show me she can be kind, caring, that we may be able to work things out.

But between the moments of slightly forced reassurances I see the troubled waters sliding beneath.

I simply don’t trust her.

I think she has awakened to my emotional condition, that I am fragile, barely hanging on. I think she is a little worried as it occurs to her that my preoccupation with our marriage, my concern for her and our children, my difficulty in sleeping, may cause me to not be the best I can be as a teacher. She is beginning to see that the complexities of instruction, class management, dealing with the shifting patterns in the hearts and minds of adolescent children requires the best from me, and it is hard to provide that when I am thinking about the icebergs grinding against the hull of our marriage.

Today we have another counseling session. We need to go. We need to make progress, keeping moving, even if the movement is very small.

I feel almost like giving up.

I can’t do that of course. I want to help her heal. Help her through her alcohol dependancy treatments. Help her work through counseling that will help her heal from the hurts of her life. I have to hang in there.

I have set up clear boundaries, that she is not to have contact with that other man. I suspect that last Thursday she broke that agreement. I pretended to believe her account of where she had been.

Since then I believe she has been too busy to break that agreement. And, she has started treatment which is a part of the road to her recovery.

So, the past few days have been hopeful. The other day she has said things about our future which makes it look like she her heart is changing.

There is a problem with hope.

In hope lies risk. Especially when the hope is dependent on someone else, on circumstances beyond one’s control.

In hoping that things are going better I am riding a roller coaster to the peak of another hill. It is a fine view from up there. I can see farther, see a future where things look promising.

I have trouble believing I will stay up there long.

I recognize that I am thinking, writing, from a place of exhaustion, that I am not getting enough sleep, enough rest, and that I am shaking inside as much as my hands sometimes tremble late at night.

I recognize that I am probably clinically depressed, that my body is not producing the chemicals, seratonin, that I need to feel better about myself, about life.

Hope is a good emotion. It lifts us up when things look dark. All good things come from God.

Or... that is the way it is supposed to be.

We can put hope in anything. We can hope we do well in a job interview. We can hope our favorite sports team will win. We can hope for a good draw in a game of poker, hope the right ping pong balls pop into the tube of the lottery machine, that someone who holds our heart will prove trustworthy.

Those are thin, poorly chosen hopes. They are based on chance, on circumstances beyond our control, on the moods and choices of another.

Those aren’t valid hopes.

We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. --1 Chronicles 29:15

And we know it. Sometimes, perhaps often, we try to stack the deck, ask God to intervene...

"Oh, that I might have my request,
that God would grant what I hope for,
that God would be willing to crush me,
to let loose his hand and cut me off!”
--Job 6:8-9

I’m not so desperate that I pray God would remove me from this world as Job did, I have too much to do, I have children to care for... still, I deeply understand the urge to beg things of God. Indeed, we are to take our requests to Him.

Part of me rejects this. Such rejection would eliminate much good, much opportunity for my Lord to work in my life, but I often feel I should just suck it up, and bear what burdens are placed on my back, and trudge on.

Part of me wants to simply speak to God about how I am doing, what I am grateful for, seek to know what He would have me do. I don’t want to use Him as a vending machine, seeking He grant large, and even more so the small, things in my life.

I fear the urge to think of Him, the Creator of all things, my Maker, as a puppet who’s strings I might attempt to pull.

My hope should be beyond such concerns. I would like to have instead, to hold dear to me, the hope Paul wrote of to the Believers in Rome:

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” --Romans 5:3-5

I want hope that is simply based on Him. He is bigger than my problems. His love is mightier than my entire existence.

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion...”
--Psalm 147:10-12

That is what I want to do... simply love him, hope in Him.

That is what we are all to do, even governments, nations:

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.

In his name the nations will put their hope."
--Matthew 12:20-22

But I’m a silly man, a small person who feels like he has clung to his life as best he could and feels he cannot cling to this bit of flotsam for much longer.

I hope Brenda does the right thing. I hope my marriage survives.

I’m such an idiot.


Ame said...

Oh, gosh, Will. If you're an idiot, welcome to the rest of us! Either we all are or none of us are.

I so understand ... where you are ... the thin thread that no longer exists ... trying to hold on ... but finding nothing to hold on to ... trying to find hope when hope is elusive, at best. The mental agony of being strewn from one end of the spectrum to the other ... wondering from moment to moment if the marriage will survive ... if you can trust her ... knowing you cannot ... but longing to ... hoping there will be a time when you can ... doubtful it will ever come ... longing for it TO come ... wondering if you can survive either way ... wanting to give into the tidal wave whose under tow is sucking you in ... knowing you can't ... wishing you didn't exist at all ... knowing you have no control over your existance as you are not Creator.

The verses you quoted are powerful.

I've been struggling with hope lately. It seems so elusive. My faith is tested and stretched till I wonder if it exists at all ... till I wonder how I ever had it to begin with.

I've been where Job was in those verses, even with children. It shocked me to get there, but there I did get. I thought that by knowing his life I could avoid walking through parts of it ... I've not avoided one part of Job.

My friend, Heather, always tells me ... just do what is in front of you. That's all I can do most days ... just what is in front of me. Too overwhelming to look any further than that.

You are not an idiot. But if you are, I am, too, and welcome to the party!!!

Anonymous said...

You are NOT an idiot. You are TRAPPED. You are in a sinkhole that seems to give you no way out.
There IS an answer, it just hasn't been discovered or revealed yet.
In the meantime, you hang on for dear life, hoping (yes, hoping)for the One who is HOPE, to reveal Himself clearly in these tough times and in the grey areas of your life where answers are harder to see.
Give it TIME and WAIT.
That's my encouragment to you.

wilsonian said...

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life." Psalm 13:12

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. No kidding, eh?! Continuing to pray, that your desire would be fulfilled. That you would find the healing you need regardless of what Brenda chooses for herself. That you would see yourself clearly as the beautiful creation you are. Oh... and that you would spend some quality time with your family doctor.

We are for you.

curious servant said...

Went to the doc today. Welbutrin (sp?) & sleep meds, starting today.

Counselor: alternate couple counseling with sessions for me. Brenda getting alcohol treatment 3x week, 1 on 1 every other week, and a session with our counselor when she needs it.

Thank you for your prayers.

Ame said...


Individual sessions will prove SO much more productive than you can imagine.

Welbutrin is a good place to start ... often they use a combination of drugs, so if it doesn't really kick in, go back to your dr.

Amrita said...

May the Holy Spirit apply the balm of Gilead on your heart, mind ,body and soul Will.

Real change will take place in Brenda 's life if she is regernerated from the inside not just her outward behaviour patterns.Pray that happens, she has to meet God face to face.

Jada's Gigi said...

Brother, I've been away...not much time now..HE is Hope..He is the living breathing HOPE...

Anonymous said...

You are loved.

bjk said...

Twenty six years together provides a sense of another person which borders on extrasensory. I can instantly judge her mood, spot the nuance in a word, tone of voice, body language.

You know of experiences of her do you really know her? Do any of us really KNOW another? What if you are getting to know each other, can you believe that in the curiousity of this getting to really know each other, there could be Hope in Him?