The philosopher and ex-priest Ivan Illich stated, “We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation.” Where expectation comes with the claim that we have a right to something, hope is a feeling that a desire will be fulfilled. Hope then comes from the heart, whilst expectation from the head really.
I often find myself in a place of expectation, which isn’t bad. There are particular areas of your life that should be filled with expectation. I expect that I should be paid each month for the work I do. I expect that if I go to the gym 5x a week then I will see results. I expect that if I get up in the morning, on time and organised I should not have any problems getting to work before 9:15 (however, sometimes this is out of my control so I’m thinking approaching the London Transport system is better to do with hope then expectation). Either way, expectation comes from a very factual, logical point of view.
Hope on the other hand is not at all logical. We hope because we want to know that there is something out there which will turn out good. We hope that we will get the job, we hope that it does not rain when we wore those pesky ballet slippers, we hope that we will find someone who loves us back and wants to spend their lives with us. (Which, to be honest girls, is really on our minds a lot…if you deny it…well…I don’t believe it). We weren’t meant to be alone…it is okay, but be realistic and hopeful in the right way.
This morning I had a conversation about love with my colleague. Apparently Thursday mornings should be filled with deep and meaningful conversations. We were talking about childhood games which involved a number of food items and how we used those to predict the future of our love lives. Case in point: turning the apple stem and reciting the alphabet until it pulled out and the initial of the next boy who would ask you out was revealed. My colleague made a good point. When we were kids we just expected that we would grow up, find a boy who liked us, date and get married. She is from a VERY different part of the world from me, so this is definitely not just some Western fantasy put into our heads by badly written TV and film.
She then went onto suggest that as we grow older we begin to see that no, in actual fact, it does not work this way. That which we expected to happen, something that we thought was rightfully ours, is not in fact. But even in all the knowing that it’s not going to be perfect, we expect it will still happen, or maybe we hope. I do this, we expect someone to march right in and just be our everything…or a lot of us have done this…
I have been reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert this week. It looks at marriage over numerous cultures and decades; how it has evolved and where it might go. Whilst I don’t agree with everything the author writes, her research is incredible and it brought up something that I love…she went into her first marriage expecting the other person to be her all and all and that marriage would make her happy. Whilst I’m not married I thought of it in a different way…looking at the steps before, the getting to know each other, the dating…
Here is where “the right hope” comes in. We so often put our hope in another person…actually, we EXPECT that because A does B then C will happen. But our hope, our expectation should not be in the form of a person. Our HOPE is in God. We expect that because our best friend found the love of her life at 21, or your dentist’s cousins’ aunt’s husband knew right away that he wanted to be with her then that will happen to you. Sorry … not so much. Proverbs 13:12 says that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.”
Honestly, if we’re putting our hope in Man then it’s going to be deferred. It’s also going to put way to much pressure on someone else.
So then what can we expect and what can we hope for. Well, we can expect, we can know that God makes all things good, we can know that he loves us and knows the desires of our hearts. We can hope that yes, our desires will some day be fulfilled but until then we can’t expect that the where, when and how will be exactly as we wanted or planned.
Until then, I challenge you to start becoming the woman that God desires you to be. Be who God intended you to be in the now…not in the future. It will bring a lot less heartache and a lot more good to others.
I didn’t quite mean for this to turn into a post about relationships but it did. Oh well…I *HOPE* that you take it for what it is and apply it to all areas of your life. Put your hope in God. In all things He does GOOD.