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.
My wife called me on Monday and asked me a series of weird questions. “Have you been to Little Caesars? What about a place called Farm Fresh Markets? Have you been to several different gas stations in the last two days?” When she finally took a breath I inquired what was going on and she said we had received alerts regarding several suspicious bank account activities. I assured her I hadn’t made any midnight runs to 7-Elevens or supermarkets in Virginia and Pennsylvania and we immediately canceled the card.
Identity theft. Ugh. We try to be extra careful with all our personal information. We don’t give out account numbers, pin codes, passwords over the phone or in emails. We cover the keypads when using our cards while shopping. We’re cautious to a fault about someone nefarious doing exactly what we thought we were protected against; spending our money, using our names for selfish gain.
We live in a world we’re people are dishonest. It’s hard not to become hardened, bitter, judgmental and overly suspicious.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. Love for Enemies “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? …Be good, therefore, as your heavenly Father has been good to you.” the Master, Gospel according to Saint Matthew
Tough times, especially when people purposefully hurt you, inflict pain, sacrifice your well-being for their gratification test our resolve and reveal our true nature, desire, reason for being, doing good.
Why do we help, give, offer ourselves and our resources to others? What do we do when others take advantage, steal, con us?
When it’s not our choice to give, when what we have is taken, our reaction reveal how what we possess can have a hold on us. It also reminds us that what truly matters can never be taken and the greatest treasures are the blessings of grace and acceptance which have been freely, unconditionally given to us.