Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hope helps. Hope heals.


Have you ever noticed how unhelpful, well-intentioned people can be? Rather than just providing supportive listening, reflection of your thoughts, and validation of your feelings, these people immediately try to problem solve. Sometimes I have to remind myself that most people are not trained counselors. Like I said, they probably mean well. But for the life of me, I cant recall a single time when I was carrying deep hurt in my soul that someones advice did anything to help matters. Especially not when its been a persistent issue thats resolution has been delayed.

It reminds me of a time in college when I was seeking a very specific supernatural encounter with God. It seemed as though everyone else was going to the next level (as I perceived it) and I wanted to draw closer too. Well, I did and I was growing in Him. But for whatever reason, this specific spiritual sign was not manifesting. At first, people were very encouraging and they prayed for me. Then as time marched on with no spiritual sign those same people (again, the well-meaning ones) implied that it wasnt happening because I was afraid, I didnt want to lose control, and I must not fully trust God. You can imagine my devastation when I was at a young adult conference and God came in the room and I wasnt there. Im serious. I stepped away to the restroom and when I came back it was like the Holy Spirit visited the meeting to baptize everyone in His presence and I missed it. I returned to my seat heartbroken and weeping because I felt like He passed me by.

I recognize now there was no truth in that belief. It certainly felt true at the time. Honestly, whenever anything delays, as the really big-ticket items of life often do, then its easy to struggle with those thoughts. Does God just not want to give me this gift? Whats wrong with me that my healing hasnt come? Is it my fault I cant conceive? Am I just unlovable and thats why Im single? Its an ugly shame spiral that only gets more momentum when people jump in with the tips, strategies, and formulas that helped them. Whats even more shameful is when those same advice-givers, perhaps in their inability to explain and their need for a clear reason, blame the person whos waiting. Well, if you just did X and not Y, you wouldve had Z by now. Ouch. In what world would that message ever give help or healing to the one who hurts?

Ill tell you what is helpful though. Hope. Deferred hope makes a sick heart. But a storehouse of hope can empower you to face anything in life, even delays. The next time you hear someone struggling with a desire or dream thats been delayed ask yourself this: If I choose to respond at all, is my response giving hope and life to their situation, or criticism and judgment? We always have a choice in what we speak. Speak life.

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