We moved into a new house this weekend and it has been such a huge blessing. But as it sits right now, the house is a mess. There is so much left to do. I walk into the house and there are the remains of opened boxes and a stack of unopened ones.
It drives me crazy.
Then Sunday my in-laws came to town and we decided to spend the day with them.
We had a choice: spend time with family and leave the boxes unpacked, or stay home and work.
We chose family. And while I almost couldn’t close the door with that much unfinished work, we had a blast because we were with people who love us. But then we again returned to the boxes.
I hate having unfinished projects. I like to get things finished. I like to bring things to completion and move on to the next. So when there is something I need to do and it just sits and taunts me as unfinished, I almost can’t handle it.
Hope means there are things left unfinished. Hope means there is a work in progress. Hope means there is something more than what I experience right now.
Sometimes those aspects of hope can be hard to deal with. But hope is what the rest of the weeks of Advent hang on.
Peace and wholeness I get. I can see them. Joy I understand, I have experienced it. Love is the thing we try to root our lives in and live out daily. Hope is less tangible. Hope is far off. Hope is “not yet.”
You see, the kingdom of God as I understand it is a “now” / “not yet” kind of kingdom. It is a present reality which is able to be experienced here and now. But it is a future reality awaiting something even greater.
If we short change either aspect we miss the gospel. If the kingdom is all about what lies beyond, we miss out on its beauty and power in our lives now.
But if I settle for just a “now” kingdom, I am prone to fall into the trap of thinking there is something in this life which will bring me ultimate satisfaction. This leaves me running around looking for fulfillment in things that will ultimately disappoint.
I have a bad habit of doing this. I assume if I can just____, then I will be happy. If I get a new job, if I get into school, when I get a new house, when this season of life is over…. THEN I will be happy. I will have arrived. Things will be going my way.
This leads to a lot of anxiousness. I get stressed when things don’t go my way. I get depressed when the things I thought would make me happy disappoint. It can be an exhausting and unhappy way to live.
I am using Richard Rohr’s Preparing for Christmas for my personal Advent reflections. He says this:
“The theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves.”
Hope is living in a house with boxes.
Hope is knowing that some things are more important than others. Hope is knowing our satisfaction, worth, joy and fulfillment only come from the One who holds our future.
So this week I have been trying a practice. When I get down or stressed or anxious about something, I pause and tell myself:
My hope does not come from this.
My value, worth, and happiness do not come from things turning out how I think they should. They do not come from having it all figured out or having “arrived”. They come from a Person.
And so far, this has been a huge help. When I put things into perspective, I realize life may not turn out exactly how I planned but I am going to be ok. Whatever remains unresolved or unsatisfactory, I am in the presence of Someone who loves me. And that matters more than their resolution.
My hope is found in being unfinished.