a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Hope isn’t a bad thing, in fact, hope can change lives. I recently tattooed ‘Hope’ on my forearm as a reminder of its consistent ability to lift my spirits and motivate me. But there’s a catch. You have to choose who or what you have hope in carefully. During past holidays, I’ve found hope in family, friends, and what the new year will bring.

retro-1291738_640My family is eccentric, to put it mildly. I’m not saying we should be reality TV stars, but our creativity and competitive nature make for an entertaining game night. We enjoy winning, and we revel in being the best at Life, Monopoly, and the like. Ironic? I think not.

Over the years, I’ve learned that no matter how amazing my family is they can’t ever handle the weight of the hope I’ve placed in them. Expectations can be a heavy load. My desire to get together with my family and have a normal evening with food and Bananagrams always ended with us going bananas. With our passive-aggressive joking, nitpicking, and needling we sound more like we belong on Family Fued.

There’s an understanding at family gatherings and we are vigilant to rotate the multiple generations of women every half hour from room to room so arguments don’t break out. One year we all sat at a restaurant (I can’t even remember the occasion), and I sat across from my grandparents. My grandmother ranted for thirty minutes about no one coming to visit her, and I lost control of my tongue. I made sure to express the stresses of being a new mother, along with the unpredictable schedule that came with being married to a youth pastor. I was sure she had no idea what my life was like. *I should mention here that my grandmother raised five children while her husband was deployed in the Army.

I was a fool. My expectations in my grandmother didn’t help me anticipate the support she might need. If I’d been focused on Christ, put my hope in Him, I might have seen the abundance of love she had to offer instead of feeling disappointed in her and in myself.

My family isn’t perfect and neither am I, so why do I expect family gatherings to go off without a hitch?

Friends have not always come easy for me. I don’t consider myself to be unfriendly, but I am a little of a ‘Mr. Darcy’ when it comes to talking to people. It takes practice. Large groups tend to make me feel like I’m treading water, while in one-on-one situations I act like an off-the-charts-goofball. All of this to say, in the past, when making a friend my hope in them could quickly feel suffocating (for me and them). Here are a couple of examples…

  • When I complained to a friend I’d hoped they’d agree with every word instead of calling me out on my own shortcomings.
  • Liking the sound of my own voice I avoided listening to my friend or expected them to be there for me but was not available to them.

Expectations and a desire for my friendships to be a ‘certain’ way killed the relationships. Taking a deep breath and finding balance is crucial in any healthy friendship.

agenda-1458537_640The new year is something we all look forward to. I begin to make plans for January and February before December even begins. Hoping in 2017 to go according to my plans will only end in disappointment. Whether I expect to lose weight or write more, I shouldn’t put hope in a period of time to resolve my problems.

By putting my hope in time, I’m putting a time limit on my hope.

This year, I plan to put my hope in one thing, Christ. The One who blessed me with the family I have will be glorified when I love and support my family. God will strengthen the friendships I place in his hands. And, 2017 will be filled with my Heavenly Father’s favor and protection when I put my hope in Him.

By placing my hope in Jesus, I’m trusting Him to reveal the expectations that are in line with what He has planned for me. Focusing on my Savior will free me, so I can jump right into family gatherings, friendships, and future endeavors. And they will bring me joy, even when they aren’t perfect. My desires and expectations can only be fulfilled perfectly by the One who created me. My hope is in Him alone.

“Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.” Psalms 33:22