Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Armed with Love: Hope

1 Corinthians 13:7, "[Love] always hopes."

I got a tattoo. Yes, conservative, frumpy, old me got a tattoo on our last family vacation. You won't be surprised by what it is. An apron with "Love Always Hopes" on the front now adorns my foot. Yes, it hurt A LOT. I regret it just a little, but no use in dwelling on it. Every time I look down I will have a constant reminder that "Love Always Hopes." Sometimes I wish I didn't have that reminder when life is hard and I want to give up. God has a sense of humor sometimes.

My three children are in the wonderful and outrageous world of teenagedom. I prefer to call it "teenage dumb." All three of my kids are very outgoing, which is a wonderful trait to have. They are the life of the party, popular with friends at school, and enjoy the spotlight. (I wonder where they get that from?)

They are incredibly funny. At a restaurant recently, they got me laughing so hard it was embarrassing to my husband. I do not have a little, lady-like laugh, but a loud, obnoxious laugh. We were that awkward table at a restaurant everyone stares at and wishes would be quiet so they could enjoy their dinner. Let me take the time to apologize to each and every one of you.

This outgoing trait does have it's evil dark side. The kids will do or try anything, which means not showing a lot of good judgment. I cringe when the phone rings and I can see that the school is calling.We have been having a lot of, "What have you done now?" moments lately. After my daughter received a two day disciplinary "vacation" from school, I asked her, "What where you thinking?!" Her answer was simple and true, "I wasn't." When they fail to think before they act, I often feel discouraged about my parenting. Haven't I taught them to make wise choices, think before they act and try to honor God and others? My hope is that they become successful adults. My therapist would say I have high expectations. Not high expectations, Mr. Therapist, high hopes.

Hope is often described as a dream, or wish. Hope to some is a longed for desire. Hope in the dictionary is described as, "to desire with expectation of fulfillment." When I am hopeful, what I long for in my heart I expect to happen. I have a hard time with hope. Hope is not a dream unfulfilled. It is a dream I expect will be fulfilled. Hope waits in expectation that my desires will come true. Usually when I say, "I hope so," I am thinking, "That would be nice if that actually happened, but it probably won't." I've been thinking this all wrong! If I say "I hope so," I actually think that it is going to happen! There is a sense of confidence I never considered before.

The Bible actually takes another little spin on Hope. 1 Corinthians 13:7(NIV)says, "[Love] always hopes." Thayer's lexicon says this hope is to "wait for salvation with joy and full confidence." With hope, we joyfully wait with full confidence that salvation will come. Boy, have I been missing it. Hope means joyfully anticipating. When my kids are making mistakes, gigantic or small, I can't say I am very joyful about it. The only thing I joyfully anticipate is that they will some day move out! When my kids make mistakes, I am not joyful. I am usually pretty discouraged about the choices my kids are making and the consequences they will have to face. I have also been learning that when my kids make mistakes, it does not mean I have been a bad parent. The truth is, I've been a good parent! I've been dedicated, attentive, provided many privileges and experiences, brought them up in church and taught them right and wrong. My children still have free will. They make their own mistakes. Their mistakes are not my mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are painful to me. Being joyful it all circumstances is something I still have to work on.

With hope, we also anticipate with full confidence that salvation is coming. When troubles come our way, I think, "That's it! We will never get past this. Everything is ruined." If I love with hope I know that whatever we are going through, God is using it to bring salvation to the people and the situation involved. With hope, I can have the confidence that we will be saved. Sometimes the mistakes are HUGE and carry enormous consequences. I can't imagine how God is going to turn it around. One of my children has stepped far beyond my control and the justice system is now in charge. The mistake has been heartbreaking for my husband and I. I want to give up. I want to blame myself. I want to write my child off and say there is no hope. I have spent many sleepless nights questioning if there is any hope for my child. One thing I know is true. God loves my child. His word says, "Love always hopes." Because I know this, I know I can wait joyfully with expectation that salvation will come for my child. God will use these circumstances to show my child love. My child will be saved.

As you can imagine, the tattoo on my foot carries a whole new meaning for me now. It is a daily reminder that "Love Always Hopes" and God will bring salvation. I can joyfully anticipate the outcome.