Hope is Dangerous

bench-532072_1280We missed out on another house today. The market is tough for buyers on a budget. It’s discouraging…even more discouraging when we get our hopes up. Each house we look at and like leads us to picturing ourselves building a home and settling down. But, it’s a seller’s market and each time we find out a house has just been sold or went to a higher bidder there’s a moment of loss. We’re finding that hope is dangerous. Now, we didn’t really lose anything we had. We didn’t own a house and lose it to a fire or flood. We didn’t have it broken into or robbed. No, we lost that picture of a future. We lost that hope of things to come.

Loss of hope is a different kind of danger. It’s dangerous in that it changes who I am. It changes the way I face risk, opportunities, change, personal development and countless other aspects of my personality. Sometimes hope fades away as if it were slowly weathering through seasons changing. Other times hope is lost through sudden tragedy. Whether via a slow weathering process or a jolting tragedy loss of hope can lead to timidity, fear, isolation, or even bitterness, anger and self-sabotage. No one intends for this to happen, but when time after time bits of hope are lost through loss we being to change. Unless…

Unless we develop resilience. Resilience does not make loss any less painful or tragedy any less jarring, but it impacts a person’s reaction and their long term response to events and circumstances. Both the resilient and the hopeless person will acknowledge that they did not have control over events. But, the resilient person owns their part in the recovery process. They own their reaction to the situation. They own their responsibility to mourn appropriately, pursue help when needed, embrace community and find opportunity to grow into a stronger and even more resilient individual. Those who get stuck in hopelessness take each hit as validation that their chance has passed, that they’re forgotten or forgettable, insignificant and that the road grows ever more steep and impossible.

We all know people from both camps. I’ve at times embraced the hopeless, falling victim to my circumstance, wallowing in the mire of loss and waiting to be pulled out by others. At other times, I’ve been resilient, finding the willingness to ask for help, engaging the community around me and finding the strength of others to reinvigorate my own resolve. I have friends who seem to have adopted the Timex slogan. They take a licking and keep on ticking. It’s not that they’re irrationally disconnected from the discomfort or pain of their reality, but that they see each obstacle as something that produces endurance, fortitude and character…and hope (check Romans 5:3-4 if the bible is of interest).

Hope is dangerous when losses, whether minor or catastrophic, serve as defining experiences leading to isolation and emotional decay.

So, as we deal with the danger of hoping for a home in this wild real estate market, we take the very minor losses of hope as opportunities to improve our character, our relationship and our resilience. I hope (dangerously) that the practice with these smaller issues better prepares us to deal with major hope threatening events to  come, as they do at some point in everyone’s life.

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