Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pinning our Hopes

Danielle and I sit on the front porch under the spinning fan and strings of lights, swatting the occasional bug and shaking our heads at the cluster of teenage boys who have just left our yard, noisily tromping and joking and good-naturedly-shoving all the way down the street. When my phone rings, I answer it (a rare occasion) on the first ring. The godmother of the boy who was shot is calling to check if we still have a mattress he can use now that he's home, because he's been sleeping on a box spring. Of course, I assure her, I'll have Adam bring it over as soon as he gets home from camp. After exchanging pleasantries and commenting on the weather, her voice tinges with desperation as she clears her throat and asks me if I've seen her son in the neighborhood that night. When I tell her I haven't, she halting asks if you see him, could you please tell him to make good choices? I tell her of course I will, and only the slight break in her voice betrays the trembling of her soul when she adds I can't do this without him.   After hanging up with her, I giggle at little with Danielle because this particular boy has been in and out of prison since we've known him. And though I'm not proud of my response here, I'll admit to y'all that I may have said to Danielle with a slight smirk that perhaps she should pin her hopes on something, or someone, else.

But isn't that the very story of what we all do every single day? We pin our hopes on all the wrong things.

During training week at camp, every counselor and leadership member shared their testimony. Everyone's stories were so so different, the paths that led them to camp were varied and beautiful and hard and terrible and perfect. But the common thread running through each and every one of our stories was this: "I had my hopes pinned on something else. And it did not satisfy. And I was disappointed.  Then I found Jesus, and pinned my hope on Him. And life has never been the same." The end.
But the problems start because hope is easily mis-pinned. It is oh-so easy for me to look at my kids and pin my hopes on them: if I am a good enough mom, if my kids will only SLEEP and obey and grow up to be ____(insert any responsible, honorable part of society)____, then I will be ok. Then my hopes and dreams will be fulfilled and I will feel like I am enough. So I look at Jayci, I see how beautiful and lovely and wonderful she is, and I cringe at her self-consciousness and insecurity. I see so much of myself in her, and I pin my hopes on the fact that things will be different for her than they were for me. I look at Caden, trace his scar, count his heartbeats. And I pin my hopes on his heart staying healthy. I forget daily that it is ok to have hopes and dreams FOR my kids, but not to hope IN them.

Every person you encounter can probably trace pain and hurt to mis-pinned hopes in their lives. The single woman who desperately longs for a man, pinning all her hope on finding a boyfriend. Or the girl who just knows that all her dreams will be fulfilled when he proposes and she walks down the aisle in a beautiful white dress.  The wife who hopes and longs and cries out for a baby, a tiny bundle of pure joy that will finally fulfill all her hopes.  The father who watches his son make bad choices, his hopes pinned on the prodigal son's return to his waiting arms.  Or the wife who learns of her husband's affair, hopes crushed because they had been pinned on THIS time being different. Or the young professional who claws her way up the corporate ladder, her hope pinned on the next promotion finally helping her feel important and whole. The girl who eats next to nothing, or throws up every bite she takes, all her hopes pinned on everything being ok once she reaches the perfect weight. Or the person getting botox and a face lift at the plastic surgeon, hopes pinned on eternal youth. In a broken world, we pin our hopes on all the wrong things.

The other day, I was driving to Publix to do some groceries (I'm a grocery-store snob, I admit it. I hate the Kroger in our neighborhood). All the trees in the parking lot were full of gorgeous, huge white blooms. So huge, in fact, that every single branch was bent low enough that the blooms were nearly skimming the pavement. As I navigated the giant-two-kid-racing-car-shopping-cart through the store, trying to avoid knocking over displays and constantly stopping Caden from grabbing things off the shelf and putting them immediately in his mouth, I kept thinking about those trees and their bent branches. About how sometimes we too bow low beneath the weight of things. The weight of things we've pinned our hopes on. We bend low to the ground, certain we will never recover, never stand straight again. We bend beneath the weight of ourselves, the weight of His glory and His grace, and often it is only with our face to the pavement that we finally realize we're pinning our hopes on the wrong thing. And once we re-vision our lives, transferring all our hopes onto the One who will never disappoint, then we recognize our false hopes, our hurts, our burdens, our unrealized dreams. Only then can we recognize these burdens as they actually are, the fragrant blooms of a beautiful offering to our Creator.

A few days later, I grab my camera as I head out the door to pick up Jayci and get more groceries (turns out having teenage boys in the house means you need lots and lots of groceries). I want to take a picture of those trees, to capture their boughs bent low, to sniff their heady blooms and remember what Christ reminded through them. But when I pull into the Publix parking lot, the blooms are gone. In their place are lush green leaves, and boughs that point straight to the sun. I sigh and then smile, turning my own face to the Son, thankful for the reminder that He makes all things new.

When we bend low and offer our burdens and unrealized dreams to Him, He transforms and redeems them. He offers new life, green leaves sprouting from straightened branches. And all our mis-pinned hopes are made into beautiful dreams for our lives. God-given dreams and hopes and wishes that, offered to the King, remind us of His goodness, and point us to the One who will not disappoint. And we are free.
Free because we are no longer bound to those things we're hoping in. I am no longer in bondage to becoming the perfect mother, to worrying about Caden's health. My hope is in Christ, not in how my children turn out, which frees me up to just love Jayci deeply and fully rather than trying to make her something that serves my own needs. I am free to have hopes FOR her, without putting my hope IN her. I am free to love Caden without fear of losing him, because my hope is not in him, but in the One who made him. Wives are free to forgive, single girls are free to be romanced by the One who loves them most fully, woman are free to be who Christ made them to be rather than comparing and prodding and cutting and coloring and dieting and starving themselves. Because all our mis-pinned hopes are now fragrant offerings to the One who delights in giving us good gifts, to the One who fashioned us, and who knows most intimately every single thing we need and hope and wish for.

I'm praying for all of y'all today, and for each and every kiddo here at camp and in my neighborhood, and for myself and my own kids. I'm praying that our hopes will be redeemed today. That whatever we carry that bows us low, will be the very thing that causes us to bow our knees before our Savior and pin all our hopes on Him.
"But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." -Isaiah 40:31


  1. Oh how I needed this today. God really used you to speak to my heart and I am so thankful.

  2. Lovely. I am always so encouraged by your words. Thanks for speaking truth and renewing my perspective. I needed this today!

  3. Thank you so much for this today. I needed to hear this and I thank God for using you to share it with me!

  4. Beautiful word and photographs, Becca.


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