Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.Proverbs 13:12
When I was 6 years old I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. My first response, without even thinking, was “lion tamer” (I mean… obviously!!). And I still remember saying it with such utter conviction. I was asked again and told to be serious. “Ummm….I want to be a mom and homeschool my kids.” While some may argue those are roughly the same things, I think I nailed down exactly what my true heart’s desire was right at that moment. A few more months and that would have been 30 years ago.
When I was 17, I remember laying on my couch in deep conversation with God. My parents were separating due to a long time affair my dad had with his secretary and his subsequent lies about said affair. I laid there seeing so much dysfunction between my parents and how it had impacted myself and our family. I saw how this pattern went back far before my parents, on both sides, and was very much a generational curse carrying on unchecked throughout time. I was always so aware of those types of things. So painfully aware.
As I laid on the couch that afternoon, I poured out my heart to God. I told Him that I would not carry on the generational dysfunction no matter what. No matter what I had to do or what I had to give up, I would not carry it forward. It WOULD stop with me. Period. I remember telling Him, “God, if I have to give up my only true desire in life – to be a wife and a mom – in order to stop this curse, I will. As long as it stops with me and I never carry it on…I will NOT stand before your throne guilty of destroying my children the way I’ve been destroyed. I would rather never see my dreams fulfilled than ever do that.”
I can’t remember how much later God spoke to me about this but it was sometime within that year. I was sitting in my bedroom and the Lord spoke to my heart and said “You may never get married or have a family. You may never have the deepest desire of your heart. I need you to be okay if this never happens.” I said, “Okay, God.”
I didn’t love the message, but I said okay. And right then and there I laid down my heart’s deepest desire and gave it to God. For the next 13 years that desire remained in the background like an undercurrent to my thoughts. But I never sought it. I set my sights on God and trusted that if it was for me, He would bring it to me…and that He wouldn’t need my help. While my promise to God remained strong, hope deferred truly does make the heart sick…
Fast forward about 13 years and I had a best friend who I loved with all my heart. At least…I loved the person I thought he was. After he raped me, it took me a long time to realize it was all a lie. It took months for my mind to re-orient to the fact that everything I thought was true was just a sick game of hunting human prey…and waiting for the right moment to strike. And once the meal was had? Gone…into the wind.
The trauma fundamentally changed me. The girl who never knew what it felt like to be loved even by her parents, who’s only emotional connection in life turned out to be a psychopath who raped her…it was all too much and it fundamentally re-arranged me. Any desire I had left for a husband and a family, heck, any feeling or desire I had for anything at all… died. It’s hard to describe what that kind of internal deadness feels like. It’s not that I couldn’t love people, at least in the best ways I knew how. But I couldn’t feel hope, I couldn’t dream, I didn’t ask, desire, or even want for anything anymore. All I really wanted was to be left alone and given as much space as possible.
It took awhile, but I adjusted to the new… barren… internal landscape. I got used to not hoping or dreaming or even thinking about the future. I even learned to be happy with the small things I did have and learned to appreciate the small blessings and few real friends I’ve been given. I honestly stopped thinking about anything else and found real contentment, dare I say joy, in what I had. I really did, somehow, become the happiest I’ve ever been.
Fast forward another 5 years and I was sure those hopes and dreams were dead and gone for good. But to my utter shock, it seems as though they were only buried underneath a secret door deep down in my soul that I didn’t even know existed. That is, until quite unexpectedly and through no intention of my own, that door snuck open and years worth of God-knows-what has been pouring out ever since…
I mean what… the… ever-loving… heck???
Aside from being surprising and disorienting, it’s also kind of frustrating. And in my total intolerance for confusion or pain, I’m starting to get angry about it. Maybe that doesn’t make sense but I mean, I don’t exactly know what to DO with this. I’m lightyears from the future I used to so desire, so how does it make any sense for it to all come rushing back?
I mean, I was HAPPY. Sure, maybe it wasn’t most people’s definition of happiness, but it was the most I’ve been able to experience. I may not have had hope, but I didn’t have heartache either. I may not have had desire, but I didn’t have disappointment either. I didn’t want for anything other than what I had, and even though it wasn’t much…all that contentment I worked so hard for now feels lost to dreams that seem further away than ever. Now it doesn’t seem like I’ll be happy until all those dreams are fulfilled; yet I don’t even know if that’s possible, so it all just seems annoyingly pointless.
To be honest, I just don’t get it. I have so many questions. Maybe I have the wrong perspective, I don’t know. It wouldn’t be the first time I completely lost my senses in a flood of confusion – but right now I see no purpose for all these feelings and that’s the frustrating part. Maybe I didn’t have hopes or dreams before, but I did have simple joys that now feel lost in this whirlwind of hope deferred. And now I just want to know why.
Lord, forgive me. Forgive my frustration…especially when I aim it at you. It feels like I’m drowning, but I know that you are good and that all your thoughts and intentions towards me are only good, always. Forgive my doubts, my fears, and my utter lack of faith. Forgive my weakness, Abba, I know it is great. I want to trust you with this as I’ve learned to trust you with every other question, doubt, and fear in life. Help me to trust you with this too. I know you are faithful, God. I know you love me more than I can even imagine. I know you are good. I know you will never leave me nor forsake me. And I know you are faithful to complete the good work you’ve started in me. Help me understand what you are doing, Lord. Help me to trust you. And please, help me to find my joy again. I love you Jesus. Amen.