If I could obliterate this year from my memory, I would.
Endless slogging through a mist of uncertainty has dampened my faith, and eaten away hopes of a brighter tomorrow.
Outwardly, I looked fine. I went through the motions of a normal life. I showed up, I delivered, I got work done, and then some. I’d be the strong one people run to for help. I was never the one helpless.
Once in a while, I’d break down or rant to a friend who knew what was going on. But it never be the whole story – just the latest trigger and the feelings that surfaced. Afterwards, I would put my game face on and just get with it. I didn’t give myself room to grieve. Nobody wants to hear my sob story, particularly me.
But on those rare moments when someone would actually ask how I am, when they would probe and ask the real questions – I allowed myself to be reduced into a puddle of tears. In my voice, I could hear the hurt, the disappointment, the bitterness, and above all, the hopelessness that pervaded my soul. I had somehow successfully shoved these emotions down and formed the steely resolve to not let anything matter. I was in survival mode.
It’s easy to tell myself the things I need to do. I need to refocus. Recalibrate. Go back to God and recharge myself spiritually. It’s easy for friends to spout advice like ‘count your blessings’ and ‘take an eternal perspective’. The annoying thing is – I know all this. And telling me doesn’t change anything.
I thought going through the motions would help get me out of my rut. Just keep showing up for batting practice, and you’ll eventually hit a home run. But mental and emotional issues don’t work that way. I realised that I needed to dig deep and unearth the big rocks that are dragging me down.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that I’ve been holding onto unmet expectations, which fed the disappointment and the hopelessness. I had latched onto an idea the God had promised me a beautiful marriage and / or a fulfilling career. I even thought I was being reasonable by asking for only one of the two. I will tolerate singleness if I had a meaningful and satisfying job that I loved and excelled at. Or, I can be stuck in my dead-end job if God delivered a wonderfully godly man to my doorstep. (An attractive future spouse is preferred, but I’m willing to negotiate.)
It sounds rather ridiculous now, but my flawed thinking really fed my deeply held disappointment. To the point that I was willing to hope for less, and help God along with my personal agenda. I was even ready to walk away and just live my blah life, leaving issues unresolved because I didn’t think they could be.
But God doesn’t want me to live a defeated, empty life. He kept reminding me to have faith, to believe. In my naïveté, I thought that equated to believing that he was going to meet my demands. Until I was reminded to look to God’s word for his enduring promises. And there, I found hope.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
My hope is not in my marriage, or my career, or even my earthly life. My hope is in seeing the glory of God, and experiencing his love that has been poured into my heart. And with this hope, I do not need to be disappointed.
All the while, I had hoped for less, when God wanted me to hope for much, much more.