“Don’t get your hopes up.”
Have you ever thought about why we say that? I mean, I realize that nobody likes to be disappointed. But is disappointment really the end of the world?
I’ve prided myself on being a pretty steady guy. I’m a rock of stability, if you will. I don’t get too excited about good things and I don’t get too upset about bad things. But that’s good, right? Well…maybe not as much as I like to think.
I’m starting to believe that I drank the “don’t get your hopes up” Kool-Aid.
When we get hurt, we all have this natural response to protect ourselves. We build walls around our heart so we will never be disappointed. But those same walls that keep out the bad, also keep out the good.
An Unfair Trade
Every day we can choose hope with the chance that it won’t work out the way we plan. Or we can choose to protect ourselves behind a wall of fear. You would think we would always choose hope. But that’s not the case.
We’ve been conditioned to believe disappointment is so bad that we will trade all hope to avoid it.
Because we haven’t learned to handle disappointment and failure, we lose all perspective. A hopeful heart is too vulnerable, we think. The world is a bad place filled with bad people looking to hurt us at every turn. If no one is going to protect us, then we have to protect ourselves.
In those moments, our safety sounds much more appealing than hope in the unknown.
Disappointments come when we have unmet expectations. So to understand our disappointment, we must figure out what we’re expecting out of a situation.
If you are expecting that every situation is going to work out exactly as you envision, you’re in for quite a surprise. It’s like going shopping on Black Friday and thinking that granny won’t throw an elbow at your face to grab that last flat screen TV.
Our expectations can also swing to the other side. There’s a phrase that says, “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” It sounds good on the surface, but I think it’s crap. If you are preparing for the worst, how can you possibly hope for the best? The worst is the worst, am I right?
“we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
There has to be something in between rainbows and unicorns and doom and gloom.
This verse in Romans is the key to unlocking hope. Paul explains how hope is formed. It’s a process of development in our lives. For those who like lists, here’s how it’s laid out:
- Expect tribulation (any difficult circumstance)
- Form perseverance (keep going through tribulation) It’s like strength training for your heart
- Develop character (change your mindset/expectations/habits)
- Establish hope
Paul says when this happens, the hope we develop will not disappoint. This is pretty amazing because when we know hope will no longer disappoint, we can stop building those walls. We can throw out our unrealistic expectations and allow anything we face to change us for the better.
Another translation says “hope will not put us to shame”. Shame is rooted in fear. When we frame our circumstances correctly we don’t have to fear getting our hopes up. We can learn to harness hope.
Don’t trade the process of forming hope for the illusion of your own safety. We all will face struggles. Our measure of hope comes from how we respond to them.
So don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Go ahead and get your hopes up.