May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit~ Romans 15:13 NIV
I will not lie.
It’s been a chaotic couple of weeks around our house. We have been in the final throes of the moving process and experienced all the standard drama associated with moving ones worldly belongings across four states and over sixteen hundred miles.
Everything, and I mean everything, has taken longer and cost more than it was supposed to. The electric company called last week to let us know that our first bill was sent back (they were unamused). A few phone calls later we discovered that ALL our mail is being returned to sender and a trip to the post office has yet to remedy the situation. No one is happy with us right now.
Our new neighborhood is a place where folks take lawn care seriously and we have not figured out how to make the sprinkler system work. As a result our lawn is turning an ominous shade of brown and the neighbors have begun casting side eye at us. The dogs are weirdly confused by the recent changes and cannot figure out on a consistent basis where they are supposed to “do their business”.
Sadly, all that pales in comparison to the drama we have experienced with one of our girls. This typically sweet child has been what can only be described as a mammoth pain in the backside for weeks now. We have been losing our minds trying to find an explanation for her behavior.
A very long and what we thought was an encouraging conversation resulted in no discernible change whatsoever in her behavior. We then attempted some coaching, when that failed we moved on to gentle correction. We took a break from coaching and correction to pray for wisdom. We finally landed on punishing the bad behavior with increasing intensity. Nothing worked and I mean nothing. We wondered if the disobedience was perhaps due to homesickness or missing her old school or perhaps even a weird side-effect of getting less sunshine.
After a number of increasingly more intense discussions it was revealed that at the root of the angsty misbehavior was something much more basic…
I am not sure what our girl was hoping for, and neither does she. But it turns out, living in Washington is a lot like living in Arizona only with more rain and fewer swimming pools. She finally admitted she was expecting things to somehow be different, more exciting, less humdrum. At one point in the conversation she did admit that at the very least she was hoping a change in location would result in different expectations for her behavior. After that rather revealing and honest conversation I’m pleased to report that life in Price household has finally returned to something that more closely resembles normal.
My immediate reaction was relief the crisis was over; relief was followed quickly by amusement. My amusement faded when I realized that even many grown-ups (including this one) have been guilty of the same sort of wishful hoping at one time or another.
Most of us have irrationally hoped that making an outward alteration in education level, tax bracket, marital status, zip code or even appearance would somehow alter more than just our education level, marital status, zip code or tax bracket. We believe deep down inside that getting married will fix our relationship problems, moving will transform us into a more interesting person or that getting a degree will give us the sense of belonging or prestige we have always longed for. When we wake-up the day after making the big change as the same person we’ve always been, reality results in…
Disappointment is unavoidable in a fallen world. Few things in life work out exactly as we hoped or even planned they would. If disappointment is not handled properly it will likely morph into anger towards God (Hebrews 12:15, James 3:13-15). If anger is allowed to fester it will eventually grow into a cancer that always results in either a nasty case of depression or a grown-up version of acting out. Adults act-out (sin) because deep down inside we feel that our disappointment has earned us the right to take pleasure where we can find it.
Acting-out is an ugly thing that never ends well for anyone, regardless of age (Ephesians 4:26).
For Christians the key to coping with the inevitable disappointments of life begins and ends with a humble willingness to surrender our dreams and desires to God (Psalm 57:1, Romans 12:2, 1st Peter 5:6, James 4:10). This is rarely easy because to fallen creatures surrender tends to feel like giving up or giving i. Surrender, even surrender to God feels like we are accepting something lesser. It’s not. It’s simply admitting there is a God who knows more than we do (Galatians 2:20). It’s knowing deep in our knower there is a God who loves us more than we can imagine (John 3:16). For believers in Jesus surrender and trusting God with the tough stuff of life is a doorway to becoming who we are called to be. It’s the key to real and lasting contentment in this life.
Letting go isn’t giving up. It’s the first step to embracing the dreams and plans God has for us (Ephesians 3:14-21).