I learned something about myself last week that really made me sad. I realized that I don’t hold on to hope for my life. I hold on to the hope in Jesus and I rest in the knowledge that I know where I will be for eternity, but I don’t hold on to hope for what the future may hold for me.
The Story Behind the Realization
Let me explain. When I met a friend for lunch, some of our conversation brought up some pretty rough memories of life with the one I loved, but I felt it was a good conversation in the end. However, as I was leaving in my van, I felt something being asked of me that I didn’t even have the chance to fully discern before I felt tears coming to my eyes. As I tried to keep the tears from coming, I was able to grasp what I was being told…I was supposed to let go of the idea of ever being in a relationship with someone again. It wasn’t like I was being told it would never happen or anything harsh, but just that I was supposed to let go of thinking about it happening.
After being told for so many years that I was nothing of importance, I believed I was the type of person that could never truly be loved by someone anyway. But, since I never really knew what it was like to be cherished, truly cherished for only being me, I’ve occasionally thought it would be such a wonderful feeling since I did know what it felt like to cherish someone else. It was something that my heart ached for – to be loved and cherished just because I existed – by a man who cared for me.
Letting Go of Jeremiah 29:11
Then, later that night, Jeremiah 29:11 came to mind. Since the one I loved died, I realized I had made this verse a life verse for me. I had gotten to the point of clinging to it as a promise of a future that held something almost tangible that I could hold on to and work toward. Because it says His plans are for a future to prosper us and not to harm us, I thought maybe, just maybe, I could have a future much different from the life I’d had. I also linked in the idea of being a writer as a career. I felt and keep getting that I’m supposed to be writing. In fact, every time I post a piece, it is something that God has continually laid on my heart to write. That night, though, I felt Him telling me to also loosen my hold on this verse because I was taking it and making it my own and not really looking at the context around what was happening when God gave Jeremiah this statement. This is the context:
- The Israelites were in exile in Babylon.
- They had just been told their exile would be for 70 days and not just two or three like the “prophets” with them were saying when verse 11 comes into play.
- God was definitely not telling them all their problems were about to be over. Instead, He was telling them they had many more years in exile. But, with this, He had also told them to not become complacent where they were at the time. Instead, I believe, this is where He gave them hope by telling them to:
- Marry and have sons and daughters.
- Find wives for their sons and to give their daughters into marriage so that they too may have sons and daughters.
- Increase in number and not decrease.
- Seek the peace and prosperity of the city where they were and to pray for it because if the place they were in exile prospered then they would also prosper.
God didn’t want His people to lose hope or to stop living a life of purpose. But when I thought about letting go of this verse in the way I was holding on to it, I felt I was being told to go back to living totally in the now – not planning for much in the future and taking the good and the bad as they came. That may sound like a rational “living in the present” way to live, but when I live that way I live expecting the bad to come so I will not be too disappointed when it eventually did and, if something good came then I would be pleasantly surprised. I lived this way from when I was in my teen years. It made life easier to handle because I wasn’t counting on wonderful things. I just tried to live my life as it happened, finding some happy times and being purposeful in how I treated others without any expectation of good for my life. My day-to-day life was lived with no hope for the present or the future.
How Will I Choose to Live
My friend brought this to my attention the next night and, after I prayed and thought about it, I realized she was right. I had always found solace in the fact that I had never let the abuse or the abusers take away all the happiness in my life and I had still accomplished some things. However, with this new information, I realized that I had allowed them to take away something more precious – my hope.
So, as I was pondering what to do with this information my Bible study group watched a video for the study on Jonah by Priscilla Shirer. What she had to say really struck home with me. The study is all about how we look at those events in our lives we weren’t expecting. Do we look at them as interruptions or divine interventions? Do we grumble, regret and wish for something other than what we have been handed or do we delight in the Lord right where we are AND in all He has planned for us?
I realized that’s where I needed to live. I’m trying to delight in all that God has for me at this moment. I’m at a place in life where many of my friends have moved or their schedules are just too busy for getting together or talking often. Then, added to this is the fact that writing is very solitary work and I have really struggled with feeling alone. But, as I’ve been working on delighting in where I am, I can see how I need to have time alone, to even make it a priority so I can hear what God has to say to me, learn more about writing and discover who God made me to be, do what He wants me to do and say what He wants me to say.
Life’s a Journey
Am I still struggling with the loneliness and where I am in life? Yes, I still struggle, but there is hope in delighting in the Lord, no matter where He has me. There are so many sayings that go along with the saying, “Life’s a Journey”:
- …not a destination
- …and only you hold the map
- …enjoy the ride
- …not a race
- …keep moving forward
- …and then you die (I heard this one a lot when I was young)
- …don’t travel naked (that one made me laugh)
- and many, many more, but the one I love the most is from the wise old bear, Winnie the Pooh, who says, “Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved”.
I have lived my life fixing the problems and waiting for the next problem to be solved while fitting life in between it all. That’s not what life is about. God made us each individually and with a special purpose. Does that mean that we are all promised an easy life? No, not at all. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” That is a call to live our lives with hope and delighting in Him even in the circumstances that come. I’m going to prayerfully hold onto this verse to be able to see His hope in the day-to-day life and all it’s interruptions and divine interventions.
How do you live your life daily? Does it need to change or have you found a truth by which to live your life? I’d love to hear from you.
~ Joanna Lynn