Friday, December 14, 2012

Hope That Does Not Disappoint

I've been reflecting lately about 2012 and trying to summarize it in one page or less for my annual Christmas letter.  But I keep getting stuck.  The Christmas letter and photo are supposed to paint a picture of perfection.  Here's a picture of my family.  Aren't we cute, showered, well dressed and put together?  Just in case we don't look put together enough from the picture, here's a letter explaining how great we all are.  We want life to look like this.

But the truth is life is messy.  We are NOT perfect or put together all the time.  We are however typically showered and always dressed, but not necessarily seasonally appropriate.  And I will always think my kids are adorable (but that's kind of my job).  More often than not, life looks more like this:  a mixed up combination of chaos, vulnerability, and joy.

2012 has been, in a word, CHALLENGING.  There have been very high highs and very low lows.  Never in my life have I felt so ill-equipped to handle the life God has called me to.  Which is ironic because I like to be good at stuff.  It's why I don't write for a Lego Robotics blog, make crafts to sell on Etsy, and why I quit being an accountant before I ever started.  I am very aware of my limitations and weaknesses.  I avoid them as much as possible.  But this year, my limitations and weaknesses have collided headfirst with life.  

My house, which I like to keep clean, tidy and free from unfinished projects, has been continually in a state of disarray more often than not.  I currently am looking at three huge bulletin boards that have been leaning against the wall waiting to be hung for a month.  The kitchen floor has muddy footprints on it, the Christmas tree has shed piles of needles on my carpet, and the toilets all have a ring around the inside that may or may not come out with lots of scrubbing.  My dining room table is stacked with the chaos of multiple unfinished projects.  This is NOT how I like to function.

I have rejoiced as friends and family married, had babies, and bought their first homes.  I've wept as friends and family divorced, lost their homes, and grieved over babies that are longed for but still are not home. My friends have lost loved ones - including children- to untimely death, received cancer diagnosis, and worked through painful relationships.  And these mindless shootings.  I'm weeping as I read about the elementary school shooting that happened today.  High highs.  Low lows.

When I signed up for motherhood I assumed, because I'm passionate about it, it would come easily to me.  Instead it has been my greatest challenge.  I want so badly to love, train and discipline my children in a way that honors God and reveals to them just how much I love them.  When my inadequacies come through on a daily basis it's hard for me to keep perspective.  All I can see is my failings and then guilt sets in.  Guilt gives way to despair. Sometimes we just need a little hope.

One of my favorite definitions of the word hope is "a great confidence in what is going to happen."  It can be hard to have great confidence in what is going to happen when life is scary, unpredictable, and outside our ability to control.  We need a big-picture perspective.

I read Romans chapter 5 (NIV translation) this morning and was so encouraged.  Verses two through five say, "And we rejoice in the HOPE of the glory of God.  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."

The Message, an intelligent paraphrase of the Bible, defines hope as "alert expectancy" and rewords the passage to read like this.  "There's more to come:  we continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary - we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"

I still don't know how to sum up a year in a handful or paragraphs.  My house is still a mess.  I don't have the answers to WHY this world is so messed up and why so many people are hurting and broken. I don't have a magic Mommy Wand to transform myself into all I desire to be.

But I do have Jesus.  And He promises hope that does not disappoint.  And so I choose to stay alert for whatever God will do next.  That is something to rejoice in, even in the brokenness of this world.  Come Lord Jesus!


  1. This is from the heart. Honest and real.

  2. Kind of sounds like you have your Christmas letter right here. Nicely put Jodi.

    1. Thanks C. I just finished writing the "real" letter. This was my rawness.