Day 6 of
Talking about Hope without talking about hopelessness doesn't make too much sense. When dealing with opposites it's essential to know both. Usually the very definition of one is used to define the other because if one didn't exist the other wouldn't need to. Without right you don't need left. Without backward, forward is the only way you can move. Without light, everything is dark. The same goes for this word Hope. If hopeless didn't exist Hope would not be necessary.
Hopelessness can eat away at the inside of you where the light can not touch it. But now think about what it does on the outside. Much like an infection in a wound, or rot in a piece of lumber, one would think that if there are all those things going on inside your heart and mind like we talked about a couple days ago, that your outward self would reveal it. Whether it was through your actions towards others, your demeanor and countenance, the words you say, or a combination of all, something would show. One would think that just by observing the behavior of another, friend or foe, stranger or neighbor, you could gauge their feelings and therefore get a sense of how they are doing in this life we're all living together. Unfortunately most often, one would be wrong.
Most often, in my humble opinion and limited experience, knowing how someone is doing and what they are feeling by observing and talking rarely reveals the truth. Even if you are closer to that person than anyone, and are asking all the 'right' questions, the true heart could still not be what you are getting. The reason is really simple. We know how to fake it. We are experts at faking it. Some of us could have shelves full of Oscars just in the category of faking it.
As you become an adult you develop and fine tune the qualities your parents always tried to teach you like self control, using polite phrases, manners, small talk, etc. Those are all good things and definitely make you more desirable to be around, however like all good things, they can be twisted just a hair and become a detriment. When you are skilled at proper etiquette and decorum, or honestly just skilled at not coming off as a jerk, then you are skilled in the art of hiding in plain sight. You are, with little effort, able to fool those around you with your words and actions, because you are able to mask your heart and therefore hide the hopeless within you. And even if everything inside you is screaming to just say what you're really feeling and spill it all, taking that step of letting it show can be a huge one to take.
"Fine" and "good" are answers we are all too good at giving. Last week while pushing my cart full of groceries at Publix, the well mannered stockist, in his well mannered voice, asked how I was doing today. I gave the correct "I'm doing well how about you" answer, in which he returned with an "I'm great thank you". It was a very pleasant exchange that would surely have pleased his manager whom I'm sure makes certain his employees are pleasant, because it is definitely where shopping is a pleasure. But was it true. For either of us?
Then there is the all too common Sunday exchange when you pass an acquaintance in the hall and they say "good morning, how are you today?" Chances are they too are just being polite are expecting the typical response of "good, how are you?". But inside, you are thinking about the real answer, and about all the things that are not just good, and you wonder what it would be like to actually say everything you are thinking.
Everything I share here is another lesson on my road to clinging to Hope, and not to myself. Another piece of my heart that was mined. Another part of me I had to see. Though I've never been good at hiding my feelings with my facial expressions, this was still a familiar part of my everyday and I know I'm not alone, which is why I'm sharing with you now. I am a recovering perfectionist who was shown the real life danger of hiding my imperfections, and is ready to share this with my friends, with my family, and with you who I might not know and might never meet, so that you can see that it is not only ok to share our true selves, but it is what we were created to do.
We were made, through our identity in Christ, and not by our own strength to 'encourage one another and build each other up' (1 Thes 5:11), to 'bear one another's burdens' (Gal 6:2) and remind each other that 'He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it'. (Phil 1:6)
Just imagine what it would be like if we not only gave the real answer and shared our hearts when asked, but if we expected and desired a real answer from the ones to whom we ask those questions. What if instead of giving and expecting the 'typical', we gave and expected transparency? What if we each set the example of sharing our hearts, sharing our sins, sharing our struggles, and desired others to as well? Not to condemn them, but to encourage them in their walk, and point them towards the only One that can help.
What if instead of hiding our hopeless, we bared it so that Hope could come in?