September 29, 2015

The Art of Hoping

I'm not a glass-half-empty kind of person. In general, I tend to be cautiously optimistic.

Except when it comes to myself.

You see, even though I've had good things happen to me before, I have this weird voice somewhere in the back of my mind. This voice likes to tell me that if I hope for something, it probably won't happen. And when the inevitable occurs, I'll be disappointed.

And disappointment, for some reason, is like the worst thing that could ever happen.

But see, I have this friend (cough, Melissa Tagg, cough). She likes to remind me that God has given us every reason to hope. And when it comes to dreaming, hope is the fuel that keeps us going. God has promised us GOOD THINGS, and when we pretend like those things don't exist, we lose something extremely precious along the way.

This is all fresh in my mind, because just over a week ago, I was up for a big award among unpublished authors in the inspirational fiction industry. I was attending the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, where the winner would be announced at a gala the last night. Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck whenever I thought about the announcement. I finaled two years ago and didn't win (but lost to a very deserving and dear friend), and I was preparing myself for the same outcome again. But there were several instances throughout the conference when my attitude and perspective were challenged.

Other than some great conversations with my best writing buddies, a very distinct moment stands out to me. I was attending a session led by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck (two writing mentors of mine), and Rachel was talking about the ups and downs of the writing journey. She said, "You have to ask yourself, 'Can I allow God to handle my disappointments?'"

I can't even tell you the lightbulb that went off in my head! The day before, I'd attended a seminar on writing WITH God, and letting Him lead us in this writing adventure.

It's like God was saying to me, "Lindsay, I want you to take my hand and trust me -- wherever I lead. Don't hold onto your hope, but let it fly. If you keep it tethered to you, you'll lose steam. You'll never grow. You'll wither and eventually the good seed I planted in your heart -- the one that loves creating through the written word -- will die. I'm big enough to help you through the disappointments. Will you trust me?"

So instead of choosing the route that feels safer, that feels like I'm protecting my heart, I'm choosing a new motto:

It's better to have hoped and been disappointed than never to have hoped at all.

Thank goodness the Lord taught me that lesson. Because when my name was called as the winner of the Genesis competition in the contemporary category, my heart experienced the full effect of one that had hoped for God's best.

But even if I hadn't won, I know my heart wouldn't have shattered. Because I serve a God who is a gentle physician, healer of wounded spirits, and encourager of on-hold dreams.

Still in shock after winning the Genesis. 
With writing mentors Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren of My Book Therapy.
With my writing besties Melissa Tagg, Gabrielle Meyer, and Alena Tauriainen -- my support team!

12 comments:

  1. Loooove! And I love you. And I love what Rachel said.

    My thing with hope is, and you've heard me say this a bazillion times, people always say they don't want to get their hopes up because they don't want to be disappointed. And I'm just like, dude, life can't be about shielding ourselves from disappointment or hard emotions. When we try to strip emotion from our dreams--even the hard emotion--we lose something precious! We lose a slice of vulnerability...and we lose the chance to trust someone who is bigger than our emotion. AND we lose the chance to grow through disappointments.

    So, I say hope ALL the time! In the right things, of course, but without fear of disappointment. Sometimes everything will go wonderfully and that hope will grow bigger. Sometimes it won't but in the process of disappointment, we'll get to experience what it's like to be comforted by God and friends and family and we'll find our hope expanding in a new direction that's less dependent on getting what we want and more dependent on our trust.

    And now I'm getting sermony when all I really meant to do was say awesome post and I love you and I'm still so very happy for you!

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    1. Thanks, friend. You know I agree with everything you just said. It's hard for me, but I'm choosing to embrace it!!

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  2. Great post and great perspective! Conference was incredible this year, and I loved Allen Arnold's class. Speaking as someone who didn't win your category, I can say it's pretty wonderful here too, even after being a finalist three times. There's just so much to be grateful for. I enjoyed meeting you, and I look forward to seeing what's next for you and your writing. Congratulations.

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    1. Christina, thank you so much for your graciousness. I wish all three finalists could win! It's such an honor to have finaled beside such amazing people. It was so great meeting you as well! Wish we'd have had more of a chance to chat. I hope all good things for your writing too!

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  3. Yay! I love this and I love that God surpassed your wildest dreams and gave you the wind to let your hope soar! We tell ourselves we're not getting our hopes up, but really, no matter what, we are hoping for the best, and regardless of what we say, we are disappointed when that good thing we want has not been given to us. Hope on, I say! God has good plans for you. And I'm so happy I get to sit here and watch them unfold. :) Muah! Love you and congrats, again.

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    1. You know, you're so right. Whether we admit it or not, we are all hoping our dreams come true. I guess it's best to admit it, embrace it, and say, "Come what may." Because ultimately, God is in charge and he has good plans for us. :) So excited I get to see your path unfold too!!

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  4. Great, well-done. And HUGE congrats! Well-deserved, & it's just the beginning!

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    1. Thanks, Dee! Were you there this year and I somehow missed you??

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  5. Congratulations again Lindsay!! So proud of you!! And thank you for allowing your heart to bleed its words for the Lord onto this page!! You're so not alone! The conference was a rollercoaster of ups and downs for me too! But God has used others like you through this post to encourage me and also remind me again that He is in control of all, He is our hope and He holds us in the palm of His hand no matter what! So how can we ever have failure in our lives with that! 😀

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    1. Aw, thank you for your warm words of encouragement! If God is for us, who can be against us? Sooooo awesome!

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