If You’ve Ever Been Disappointed

 

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One morning last week as I did my early reading and light spilled over the frosted earth like a glass of yellowed buttermilk, two yearling does visited the meadow behind our house. The girls were wary, and when I moved to the window to watch them nibble the frozen grass along the fence line, they lifted their heads in tandem to study me—tails twitching behind. They soon surmised I was no threat and resumed their brunching, content. It was cold outside, below freezing, and I noted the thickness of their fur, wondered how it would feel to the touch.

Since then, I moon expectantly around the window as often as I can, hoping to catch another glimpse the little girls’ doe-eyed beauty.

I am a hopeless sentimentalist—a hopeless hoper; always believing the best is yet to come, always holding out for a glimpse of wonder. I study the night sky patiently for shooting stars, search the clover patch diligently for the elusive four-leaf, linger long on the balcony by the ocean for a glimpse of the dolphin’s rounded nose to poke up out of the waves.

I’ve been disappointed too many times to name and yet, my spirit still gets its hopes up when waiting. I never seem to learn my lesson, often diving straight into hope from possibility without a second thought. God has almost cured me of wanting anything at all through the repeated blows of disappointment I have experienced over the years.

But not quite.

Recently, I suffered another disappointment and I’m having a hard time shaking this one. Even though I know there’s no simple answer, I’ve been asking myself “why?” a lot. I’ve caught myself wishing I wasn’t so full of hope. I’ve been asking God what I’m doing wrong, what I’m supposed to learn from this grief, and why does he always make me take the hard path? I tear up at the strangest times and find myself without words during my prayer time. I’ve been sitting in silence a lot. It’s quiet here, inside the walls of me. I have been touching the moments gently—feeling around inside my heart.

Romans 5:5 tells me, “… hope does not disappoint …” but I’ve been complaining to God about what I feel is a lack of truth in this statement. I’ve been identifying with God’s name for his people in Zachariah 9:12: “prisoners of hope.”

And still, I hope. I hope this disappointment was a mistake. That this thing longed for will be replaced by something of greater joy. That the reason for this “no” would be clear to me and I would feel grateful to be saved from whatever certain perils a “yes” would have brought.

Christmas is coming and this year my advent waiting feels almost desperate at times. For, lately it feels I am always waiting for a good that never arrives. This is what the word “advent” means, after all: arrival.

After some sleuthing around in the dictionary, I discovered that the words “advent” and “adventure” come from the same Latin root, advenire. But “advent” comes from the past participle stem of advenire, while “adventure” comes from the future participle.

I’ve always thought of Advent as a waiting for, but this startling etymology reminds me that this arrival we wait for is already past. Yes, we wait for the return of our Savior, but he has already come. He has already done the hard work that fills our hearts with longing—that fills our hearts with hope. He has arrived and dwells within our hearts, abiding and keeping company and strengthening us for the journey. Because even though he has arrived, we still wait for that day when all will be made right and his arrival will announce a new order of things. And it is the promise of future adventure that keeps our waiting so expectant, so alive with joy.

This is why hope does not disappoint. This is why my heart’s hopefulness cannot be quashed: Our hope is in more than earthly desires. Our hope is a person. His name is Jesus. There is much that can be said about this broken world we live in and how our lives are being made new by faith—minute by minute—how disappointment is a real and human thing … but I don’t have all the right words to say that just now.

This is the mystery of Advent, this already-but-not-yet our hearts understand better than our heads. I don’t quite understand it either, my mind almost grasps it but then it slips away as quickly as the light fades from the winter sky.

But the shimmer—this glimmer—of truth stays inside of me. This morning I touch it gently with my thoughts as I move to the window once more. I watch through the glass, my feet planted in warm, as the two yearling sisters emerge from the brush and sniff the remains of my fall pumpkin, broken open and discarded in the meadow.

The house glows soft with twinkling light and my heart floods with hope once again.

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    I can identify with so much of what you’ve written here. Our earthly hopes – they are often and repeatedly unfulfilled, and we are disappointed, and I can identify with continually waiting for a hope that does not materialize. But then, we have this heavenly hope – which stays alive and we can find a glimmer of joy, amidst all the earthly losses and disappointments. I don’t understand it all, either, but this resonates with me; you write and express these thoughts so beautifully!

  2. Kelli says

    Prayers, sweet friend. And please don’t ever grow any less “hopelessly hopeful” – that is one of your best qualities, I think, even if it causes you hurt. That tender heart is worth preserving.

    • says

      Thank you for your encouragement along the way, dear friend. I don’t think I can ever stop being hopeful :). It’s that little piece of Jesus inside of me. He helps me always see the good, even in the hard places. Love you.

  3. Amy says

    Beautiful, Laura. The way you share your heart is an encouragement. We recently moved, and I now have a view of nature and water behind our home. I find myself gazing in to see what creatures will visit and how the colors and patterns will emerge. While visiting with my spiritual director recently I described it saying they’re wonderful moments of looking at the beauty before turning back to the difficulties of the real world. After a bit more discussion, she brought us back around to the picture and asked me, “What if that peaceful view is the real world?” The disappointments of this fallen world are difficult, but I appreciate the way you framed and shared the perspective of Advent, hope, and Jesus here.

    • says

      Oh, Amy, thank you for sharing this. I see the truth and wisdom in your Spiritual Director’s words. And I have felt them also, these past days. Disappointment is bringing me closer to all the beautiful things in my life, right now, as is. Merry Christmas to you, Dear friend. You are a blessing.

  4. says

    I was writing the other day about some sorrows in this season and I stumbled on the phrase “hope is a bird that cannot be caged” I think often my pain comes from restricting hope to the things I want, when hope wants to soar free. It’s good to be here, it’s been too long since I visited your space! Happy adventuring to you!

  5. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    So beautiful, Laura, and so true. In the past, I’ve thought a lot about the Advent and adventure connection, and wish my life were more adventuresome–or rather, that I was. I know I’ve sidelined my life a lot because of past disappointments, not wanting to risk hope again. Your meditation reminds me though that I am in active relationship with the Savior who has *already* come. He is here, and He is my hope. He takes my hand and says, “Come away with me.” How I need to rise and do as He asks. Thank you for your beautiful hope-filled words, filled with light and grace.
    Suddenly, I had deja vu, recalling a song called Buttermilk Sky that I sang in the Rhythmaires in high school. Our matronly teacher always chose these hokey songs, but it brought back a lovely memory. I just googled it, and it’s cute. It was apparently in a Western, and they played it at the end, when boy gets girl and they ride off into the blazing sunset. Ah, hope!
    Love
    Lynn

  6. says

    Dear Laura,

    Thank you for reminding me, so beautifully, about how our hope is in Christ, who has come, and who will come one day to right all wrongs. God sees the whole picture as he’s outside of time but oh, how hard it can be, for those of us who live inside of time, to see with eyes of hope and faith. May God comfort hope and continue to fill you with his eternal hope and love. ((Hugs))

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