Hope vs. Expectations
How to find hope in hopeless situations with minimal exhaustion and steering away from suicide.
There was much confusion for me about what hope meant in the beginning of the refining period of my life. From about April 2016 to January 25, 2019, I spent my days in distress, wondering how I was going to make it to the next day. I worried, and panicked, stressed myself to the point of exhaustion, drenched myself into a drunken stupor and buried myself into the darkest corners of my mind until the only thought that could consume me was suicide. The only solution…
I can recall a time very early on in my trial, where I just felt like giving up. It was a day that I had gotten yet another “no”, and my case to get custody of my kids back seemed completely hopeless. I couldn’t picture my life going on this way, watching my children growing up from a distance, seeing motherhood slip right through my fingertips, it was unbearable. I remember getting in my car with the hope that I could actually end it all right then, thoughts racing through my head, tears rolling down my face, I was going to end all the pain. But then I saw a falcon fly by, and I pulled over to look at it, and at that moment, a cousin called me, and had the exact right words to tell me. It didn’t get easier after that, but I think back to that day all the time and look around at all the experiences I would have missed if I would have succeeded.
Now after recovering from that, I constantly looked for signs from the world that everything was going to be okay, that I was going to be okay. I tried, tirelessly, to fix my situation by telling anyone who would listen to my desperate story. I tried calling the police, the DCF, the FBI, the President, made posts on Facebook, twitter, youtube, instagram, sent out emails, made reports, contacted news stations, and was left with nothing but aggravation and despair. I put my hope in everything…but Jesus.
And then I learned the difference between hope and expectation:
"The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish." - Proverbs 10:28
I have found that expectations very often lead to disappointment. And this would happen on both sides of the coin - positive and negative. When I was battling in a nasty court case, I would walk into the court room with extremely high expectations, sometimes on the positive side thinking “there is no way this judge is going to rule in favor of him” or “the judge has to rule this way or that way” and I would leave the courthouse, completely sore and disappointed and drown myself in my sorrows (literally). And on the flip side, if I would go in thinking “this judge is corrupt, he is never going to let me win, I’m always going to lose”…I went in with a poor attitude, and made a fool of myself, and surely got what was coming to me.
See, expectations limit what you will be happy with, that God gives you. If you limit your expectations to a singular outcome, you can only be happy if God fits into your expectations. And I have found that God really has NEVER, in my case, fit his will into my expectations. What would I need him for, if I had all the answers to all my problems?
Having blind hope, that’s where it's at…I started letting go of my expectations…
On January 1, 2019, I wrote down a list of all of things I wanted to give up to God: legal case, anger, envy, resentment, children, finances, love, relationships, sex, career, home, health, addiction, fear, the future, expectations, anxiety, the judge, vengeance. And, so, I got on my bike, rode to a woodsy area and lit it on fire. Twenty-five days later, I walked into the courtroom with no expectations, fully surrendering my case to the Lord, telling Him “Lord, I don’t know what you are going to do with this case today, I don’t know what the judge is going to do, but let your will be done”...
…And beyond my wildest dreams, my hopeless case was redeemed.
H - Hope in HIM
I think it’s natural to put our hope in our surroundings, and its realistically, why most of us are here. It’s fear that’s what drives us to our comfort, and that’s where Satan really reigns - when we are so afraid of the outcomes, or the losing of something we thought we had, that we drive ourselves to medicating - whether we medicate on drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, food, love, tv, video games, lustful thoughts - we give way to Satan. Our hope is in these material things, that bring us temporary joy, that last for a moment, and when the high is over, all you are left with is remorse, shame, regret and worst of all, hopelessness. And it’s everywhere…I grew up watching popular sitcoms where they taught me that when you are sad, you go to the bar, get drunk and sleep with someone, and as an adult, I did exactly that, thinking there was nothing wrong with that. And still, after years of sobriety and after all that God has done for me to save me from enemies…it’s my first go-to.
I hit a bump in the road earlier this month. I felt like I was getting thrown back into the fire, going back to that courthouse again, I wasn’t doing it. January 6, 2021, I cried like a baby, and all I could think about was going to the bar and finding someone to use to ease my pain. But I prayed, and that wasn’t easy, but I prayed. I thought about escaping in many different ways... but then Satan would win and I couldn’t have that. But I prayed anyway, and God brought to me all the times that I have comforted myself in that way, finding my hope in a man, and He reminded me: my hope is in Him, the one true God, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and I will not drink from that well again, and I will not be thirsty anymore, and I will be satisfied with His love and stand on His promises, and live and breathe His Word:
“because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7
“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” Psalm 107:6
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me.” 2 Samuel 22:2-3
One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 91, particularly this part:
"I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge”
And the pinions are essentially, the feathers of a bird’s wings.
And I heard once that when a predator is flying above a chicken coop, circling for the baby chicks to prey on…the mother hen doesn’t run after the chicks to protect them, no, she stretches out her pinions and calls out by cawing to her babies to come and take refuge under her wings.
And that’s what I believe God is saying in this scripture, “take refuge in me, I am here, I am calling out to you, put your hope in me.”
O - OPENNESS to change.
A very dear friend of mine has just recently encouraged me and a few others to read in Job with him. He pointed to Job 23 the other day and this is what he quoted:
“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Job 23:10
And he went on to say that the commentary he read, said “refined Gold fears no fire”…my friends, that’s what I am meditating on this month during this season…Satan…bring it on…because this gold, fears no fire.
I read further in Job 23 and it goes on to say:
“I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
For he will complete what he appoints for me,
and many such things are in his mind.” - Job 23:12-14
And I thought to myself, “that is one quality of God, that we should not be like…unchangeable” Think about that…the God that created the heavens and the Earth, saved the Israelites from the Egyptians, defeated the midianites with Gideon’s 300, defeated Goliath, parted the seas, healed the blind, and raised the dead is the same God who delivered me and my children from abuse, from suicide, from addiction, from homelessness, from poverty. Yes, my hope is in Him but I had to be open to change my ways.
P - POWER to change.
A few years ago, I had a vision from God. At that time, I was in the midst of my court case, emotions were high and intense and I was hyper focused on every move my opponent was making. I criticized and over-analyzed every word he or his side said. And one day, I overheard my two kids arguing in the back seat, and the argument was essentially them correcting each other, as kids do, you know...and neither of them were right! And it clicked to me - it was like God was speaking to me in that moment, “see, that’s you trying to correct him. You’re not right either. You get out of my way and let me correct him”. And it was then that I realized - THAT I NEEDED TO CHANGE. It was my control issues that wanted to focus on his actions, and complete denial of what I WAS doing wrong. Once I saw that vision, it gave me so much peace to let it all go to Him.
E - EXPECT to change.
Now, I started this teaching off talking about how expectations are bad, right? But there is a good kind of expectations we can have and that is when we have inward facing expectations and not outward. We can’t expect the world to change - it changes all on its own, way out of our control, as we have seen in 2020 - but we can place expectations on ourselves. We should expect ourselves to live boldly, expect ourselves to pray fervently, expect ourselves to serve one another, to be kind and generous and most importantly, we can expect Our God to be there when we fall, we can expect Him to hold out his pinions for us and we can expect him to never forsake us when we put our trust in Him.
I want to leave you with some song lyrics, that I will recite, because I will not attempt to rap this. But it is from one of my favorite songs as a kid. I never really paid attention to what these lyrics were saying until a few months ago, even though I knew all the words and it goes like this:
"I seen a rainbow yesterday
But too many storms have come and gone
Leavin' a trace of not one God-given ray
Is it because my life is ten shades of gray?
I pray all ten fade away
Seldom praise Him for the sunny days
And like His promise is true
Only my faith can undo
The many chances I blew
To bring my life to anew
Clear blue and unconditional skies
Have dried the tears from my eyes
No more lonely cries
My only bleedin' hope
Is for the folk who can't cope
Wit such an endurin' pain
That it keeps 'em in the pourin' rain
Who's to blame
For tootin' caine in your own vein
What a shame
You shoot and aim for someone else's brain
You claim the insane
And name this day in time
For fallin prey to crime
I say the system got you victim to your own mind
Dreams are hopeless aspirations
In hopes of comin' true
Believe in yourself
The rest is up to me and you..."
(lyrics from TLC - Waterfalls - Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopez)
And that’s what hope really is…it’s up to me and you to decide to make our own lives anew. We can pray that God comes and chases us down to rescue us, but we must run under His pinions. You can’t shoot cain into your own veins and shoot and aim for someone else’s brain, so stop the blame. Only you can decide to stay in the pourin’ rain, with your enduring pain, Or to make your life anew, because no matter how many chances you blew, His promises will always be true.