It was on the same day the baby was born that I sat with her. Her body had been drained, almost all the life she thought she had was poured out into 7 pounds of flesh that had her eyes and his chin. She was a mother now. In mere hours of labor she'd inherited a lifetime.
Just as I couldn't relate as her body morphed and stretched to incubate this life, the woman she was when she walked into Martha Jefferson Hospital and the woman that I was now sitting beside seemed ... different. Except this wasn't just a difference, it was a painful estrangement from my own experience.
She was fruitful. I was barren.
"After all that, you think you could do this again?" I asked naively, ignorant of the heart-swell that motherhood can produce and blind to what her answer might elicit in me.
"Of course," she said, without a thought. "It's a rite of passage."
I left her hospital room an hour later in a fog – those words hovered around me so much so that I could think of nothing else. She gave voice to what I'd felt for years but couldn't say out loud -- because then it might really stick.
She shared this "rite of passage" with billions of women across languages and colors and boundary lines – and that rite of passage had a "Do Not Enter" sign on it, seemingly scripted just for me.
It was too painful to make fourth-floor visits to Martha Jefferson Hospital and watch soon-to-be mamas open wrapped packages of onesies and bibs. It would have been easier to shut myself off to these mothers or to shut myself off to hope. Either option would provide a reprieve (because how else do you grapple with unmet, God-given desire and a room where you're kept waiting?).
Everything in me wanted to shove down hope.
Whether it's a financial setback while the surrounding world seems to be padding their accounts, or being asked to stand (again) next to another friend as she makes vows with a now-husband, or as a child screams in public while other parents look askance at your seemingly irresponsible lack of discipline – we all have our waiting rooms.
So, you, with your waiting room and friends telling you to just "let it go" -- knowing that God is sovereign and that His will might very well be that He says "no" to what you're asking -- why hope?
Hope Invites A Vulnerability Before God
The nexus of our inner expectations and the outward waiting room is awkward. We become good at skirting circumstances that leave us vulnerable, that make us bleed. But could it be that this learned proficiency is the very thing that's preventing us from a brush with God that might change us – the kind we said "yes" to when we were young and wide-eyed about our faith?
When my external circumstances were yet barren and I chose, still, to be a little girl on the inside, full of hope -- suddenly He wasn't just a Man on a page, but He had lines on His face and calluses on hands that He carefully cupped around my story. I felt that I could even smell His broken skin.
He does that. He so beautifully allows a thwarting in some of our deepest desires so that He might allure us to a vulnerability with Him that opens us.
We are made to be raw before God – it's the invitation to communion. And choosing to hope when everything in front of us tells us otherwise can be the very choice that ushers us, real close, to His feet.
Hope Opens Your Eyes to the Unseen
We struggle through the tension of walking in the seen, yet praying to an unseen God. Growth in Him, according to Scripture, is an ever-expanding belief and understanding of what our hand can't physically hold. I want to grow in Him, yet, I still have to pay the bills and call the plumber to fix the leak in my sink and exercise off that chocolate cake.
Hope cracks us open to that unseen -- to the place where God dwells.
Hope – when it's foolish and unlikely and you have more than a dozen physical reasons not to hope -- is the entry point into a life of keeping your eyes locked on an unseen God while living in the everyday reality that doesn't yet match that for which you're praying.
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