wishing and hoping

“Wishing, and hoping, and thinking, and praying.”

A darn catchy line to get stuck in your head. But it helps on a cloudy, damp Monday afternoon.

Someone asked for a hopeful blog entry this morning. A request that made me sit down and think about where I have seen hope lately. I, too, am stuck in the grey cold of the day, unmotivated to tackle the piles of work although the babysitter is already playing with S upstairs and I hear the clock ticking. So what, and where, is hope?

There are two kinds of hope, I believe. The short-term, immediate-gratification, “I hope the light turns green/the cute guy calls back/the football team can pull out a last-second win.” You cross your fingers, bet on your lucky number, turn your rally cap inside out. We call it hope, and it’s fervent, but it doesn’t last. The next light may be red, the cute guy may or may not call, and the football team – well, we’re not talking about that on this particular Monday. Though our vision may be clouded by the desires of the moment, what we hope for may not be truly important in the long run.

But there’s a different kind of hope. Same term, different ball game.

There is a deeper Hope to which we are called. The kind of hope that looks to the seeming impossibility of resurrection, and says, “Yes. I hope in that.” I hope my co-worker’s cancer is cureable. I hope my friend will find the love she is searching for. I hope we will someday be able to have another baby. There are no guarantees about any of these hopes. In fact, there may be strong evidence to the contrary. But I still hope. Deeply, firmly, resolutely.

I hope as a Christian. Because if a tomb can be found empty, if a man once dead can somehow appear among his friends, if every terrible sin that another human being has inflicted upon another can be forgiven by a merciful God, then I have no reason not to hope.

The first kind of hope is more about wishing. The second kind of hope is more about praying.

I hope in both ways as a parent. I hope that S gets over his cold in time for our flights this weekend. I hope he learns how to pick himself up when he falls. I hope he’ll do well with the new babysitter; I hope we both meet new friends at his class this week. All good hopes.

But I also hope that he will grow up to be a loving, compassionate human being. I hope he will listen to God’s unique call for him and follow the vocation for which he was created. I hope that he will have a long and joyful life; I hope that he will find love and be a faithful friend. No small hopes.

These are not mere wishes; these are deep hopes that call me to deep prayer. These hopes make demands on me: they ask me to live and love a different way. These hopes may seem impossible at times, but love calls me to be resilient and persistent in hoping nonetheless.

As I reflect on what I’ve written here, I hear a call to invest more energies in the second kind of hope. To turn to prayer, to trust in God’s loving care, to set aside the constant stream of anxieties that seem to accompany motherhood. My small-h hopes are wishes that can become worries, if I’m not careful. My big-H Hopes are the dreams that motivate my heart’s love as well as my daily work.

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