Before morning breaks into the thin hours of this night, I came to the conclusion that Hope is different than confidence.
Good ol’ confidence is born of success. I remember the first hook I baited all by myself. Then I spit on it for luck and cast it in the pond. I sacrificed several worms before I learned to yank the line after the bobber completely submerged in order to haul a catfish onto the bank. I became a confident fisher woman, until I took up trout fishing (that’s another story).
Confidence comes in handy when you get behind the wheel of a car after you’ve had a wreck that’s laid you up for several weeks. You ignore the sweaty palms and tell yourself that you can drive because you’ve done it before. And you can do it again.
Confidence comes when you suddenly have to introduce a person, or open your locker at the gym that you haven’t been to since waaaaay before the holidays. You relax, knowing that the name or combination will come to you. It’s in your brain closet somewhere and you know that if you take a deep breath, it’ll probably roll out on its own.
Hope on the other hand doesn’t need prior experience or success stories. There are no boundaries or prerequisites. A girl can hope that the school’s quarterback will ask her out, even if he’s never spoken to her before. Every writer who sends out a query embeds a piece of their hope in it. Even if they’ve never been published before, they HOPE this is the one that will be accepted. And, I always try to fix my computer by pushing some buttons and then hoping it will work perfectly when I reboot it.
You can see that hope is based on pretty thin stuff.
I think that’s why we look for signs. Little things to grab onto to keep hope alive. You might study the stock market each day, looking for signs of recovery to support your hope.
When I make a pitch, I look for light bulbs and glowing adoration to shine in an agent’s eyes. (Okay, really, I just look for a sign that they’re interested.)
When my mother came out of her non-responsive, bed-ridden fog last week, I grabbed onto it as a sign and hoped that she was getting better.
You’re probably a step ahead of me here. Looking for signs is as subjective as trying to figure out if it’s your gut telling you to buy a lottery ticket or divine intervention.
I’m embarassed to admit that it’s taken me a while to see I was basing my hope on the wrong thing. Oh, I receive lots of signs, but they come from faith…not hope.
Faith is the rope that hope hangs onto. You know how they tell you to keep “hangin’ in there.” Well it’s faith that you’re sticking your claws into and holding on as life whips you around.
Faith in God’s ability to care for you. I don’t always see that God cares. I spend a lot of time spiraling off in worst case scenarios before I can get my engine stopped.
That’s where the little signs come in. Out of the blue—a friend calls. A stranger does a kindness. A sunrise tells me—I’m not alone. Small (or sometimes large) pats on the back, remind me that there is a God who loves me as I am and will take care of me.
It restores my faith. And that give me hope.