Dashed Hopes –
One of the incarcerated fathers I work with was told recently by the parole board that it would be at least another 12 months before he would be eligible again. The board didn’t think he was to the point where he was ready to be released. He was crushed by this revelation. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up,’ he said, ‘but they were raised anyway. Now I’m just down and lost.” We spoke for a while about making good choices while he was still incarcerated, using the time wisely by taking other classes the jail offers, hanging around the right people and not giving up. He agreed but I could tell he was coming to grips with dashed hopes.
Hope is a wonderful thing but it can also be devastating when what you desire, long for, remains elusive, out of reach. Hope can help us through the most trying of circumstances and drag out difficult and challenging seasons. Hope can be the driving force behind our survival but it is also the reason we burn ourselves up and out. Trying to figure out when to keep hoping and when to give up hope seems impossible to know. Perhaps giving up hope is not the solution but rather learning where to place our hope is true wisdom.
This morning, while waiting for the Husky to do his business outside, I heard a voice and looked up to see a scruffy looking gentleman walking towards me. “Excuse me!” he said. “Can you help me start my truck? The starter has gone bad and I need to bang on it while someone turns the key.” em> Where is your truck?” I asked. He pointed to the church parking lot next to our little house and I told him to let me put the dog up and I’d help.
Grabbing my phone and a ball-cap from inside I walked through the wet grass in my flip-flops. When I arrived at his truck he had a hammer in his hand and instructed me to walk around and turn the key when I heard him banging on the starter. I thought to myself; “This has all the makings of a horror story!” I didn’t climb in the cab but reached over to grab the keys. He crawled underneath the truck and started banging! I figured that was my cue and turned the key. Once, twice, three times and more. No luck. The truck was just sat there. I took a few steps back and waited for further information. “OK!” he yelled, “Try it again!” I’m not sure what he did but the banging got louder, I turned the key and the truck roared to life. He scooted out from under the truck and walked around. I met him in front of it, shook his hand and wished him the best.
As I watched the truck drive away I thought about those who had helped me on my journey of life. Strangers, friends and family who tried to get me going as I messed around, not sure what I was doing, hoping just to make it a little further down the road. They didn’t turn me down, give up on me even when it seemed the prudent thing to do, stayed until things got started again. For these folks I am exceptionally grateful.
We need rain. The ground is parched and a nice drenching would quench it’s thirst. Yesterday, there was an 80% chance the sky would open up and grace the land with water from heaven. I watched several times as the sky grew dark with grey clouds, blocking out the sun, threatening to unleash a torrent only to see the potential dissipate. Not a drop was to fall all day. An 80% chance equaled 0% actuality.
I was talking with someone this week whose having a difficult time with their teenager. This parent, clearly exasperated and their wit’s end, declared to me; “She just wont communicate with me! When we’re together not a word is spoken. I’m not sure she hears a word I say.” I asked the parent; “Do you know that 80% of our communication is body language? Only 20% is words. When she’s not talking she’s still saying a lot. You’ve just got to be able hear her. It takes a different kind of listening to understand what’s being said when no words are given.” The rest of our time together we discussed ways to hear and be heard with someone who isn’t able, ready or willing to talk.
Clouds and a parent. 80% seemed like a certainty when it came to rain. Speaking being only 20% of communicating seemed like never to a parent longing to bond with a child. Percentages, statistics, probabilities can bring false assurance and disappointment. This is why wisdom teaches that we are not to anticipate, generalize or give up when the odds are stacked against us. We enter and exist in every moment with the realization that every opportunity holds possibility and promise.