I read an article about the futility of hope a while back. I can’t remember where or what publication it was in. It may have been some random waiting room magazine I happened to be leafing through in the radiation center. Who knows? I just remember that the thesis of the article struck me as strange. The article suggested that there are times when hope is counterproductive. For example, in the case of a terminally ill person, holding out hope for a late-in-the-game cure actually prevents the person from doing the work ( emotionally, relationally, etc.) that they need to do to face their illness and prepare to exit this life. This was just one of several examples. I wish I could remember the article or even the magazine so I could provide you with it, but I just can’t. My explanation of it is weak.
I’m not so sure that I agree with the premise of this article. Hope keeps us going. The Bible says that without hope, the people perish. If we don’t have hope, then why don’t we just all drink the magical elixir and end it all right now? Hope keeps us moving forward, pushing onward, taking that next step even though we’ve been brutally beaten in life’s most recent battle.
On the other hand…I think I’m beginning to understand the value of giving up hope.
Sometimes, when we face our problems, troubles, or situation without hoping it will change, we end up finally arriving at a place where we can do what we couldn’t do before while we were hoping for different outcomes. I guess, in a way, hope can masquerade as denial. When this occurs, or at least lately,for me, when this occurs, I spend my time and energy on futile endeavors rather than facing facts and moving on with a different plan. My hope was in the wrong thing. My hope led me to deny the truth that was staring me in the face. Had I given up hope, I could have faced the truth and avoided a great deal of pain and confusion and, quite possibly, even some financial loss.
As I look back on the events of this year, especially of the losses this last month, and as I look toward the future, I have to admit that in certain areas of life there are certain goals and hopes I am beginning to give up on. I think of what this means for me, and quite honestly, there are aspects of this that trouble me greatly. It isn’t exactly the destination I wanted to arrive at, but I’m here, and at least for now I see no exit door. Admittedly, I’m not looking that hard, because I’ve given up the hope that if I found an exit, the room on the other side would be any better than the one I just left. I’ve given up hope that there are any rooms at all worth exploring. Just opening the door is distasteful idea to me. So, for now, I’m in this room in my life alone. I’ve given up hope that there will be any of a certain kind of companionship. Or, at least, I’m beginning to.
The more I ponder this, the more I think, this might not be such a bad thing. After all, now I can focus without distraction, on the things in my life that need my attention and energy. I can, at last, focus on doing some things I’ve always wanted to do. I haven’t given up on hope altogether. I believe there are better days ahead. However, I’m enjoying some pretty good moments and days now, and I don’t want to miss the joy in them by spending my energy hoping my situation in certain ways will change.
It’s an interesting thing. While I would never have chosen this for myself, I’m finding that in spite of the sadness and loneliness I do feel at times, I am happier, more content, and more at peace than I’ve been in a long time. This is not to say I feel great all the time. I don’t. But I think, no matter what, I’m going to be okay.
I wonder, have you ever felt like abandoning hope in something, and found that when you did, you were pleasantly surprised?