What Happens When It Hurts To Hope For The Best? How A Personal Defense Mechanism Began To Cripple My Faith
There are few emotions that grip my heart like disappointment. There’s just something about having my heart set on something and then realizing that it won’t happen that is so devastating. Sure, no one likes to be disappointed, but when I set my heart on something, I want it with every fiber of my being. I suppose this intense wanting developed during my childhood. I’ve been blessed with really amazing parents. There was almost nothing that I asked them for that they didn’t make an effort to provide me with. “You’re such a good girl. You never give us any problems,” they’d almost say in unison as they handed over whatever I’d previously asked them for. Although I don’t believe that this is the message that they were necessarily seeking to convey, I grew up believing that as long as you’re a good person who follows the rules, good things will come to you. I still find this philosophy to be partially true, but the real world taught me that things don’t always work out this way.
Once my wish list matured and my desires changed from Easy-Bake Ovens and My Size Barbies to an acceptance letter from my dream college and a position at my dream job, things my parents couldn’t necessarily “give me,” I was stung by the harsh reality that life isn’t exactly a fairy tale. Everything that you desire won’t just come to you because you work hard and you’re a good person and some things simply are not meant to be. My tiny world had expanded from the cozy, suburban fortress that my parents had built for me, blocking out many of life’s very real truths, and I was thrust into the real world, quickly learning the life lesson that things don’t always go as planned.
I found some of my first major let downs very difficult to handle. Having never felt disappointment so intensely, I made up my mind that I never wanted to feel it again. So I began conditioning myself to put up this emotional wall. I wouldn’t allow myself to want anything too intensely because in my mind hoping was causing more pain than it was worth. As strange as it may sound, I morphed into one of those people who pray for the best, but expected and prepared for the worst. Although this way of thinking probably spared me plenty of hurt feelings when things didn’t go my way, it severely damaged another important aspect of my life – my faith.
As a Christian, one of the pillars of my beliefs is faith. Over and over we hear scriptures like “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God” and “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” It wasn’t until I was driving home one evening that I realized my hope-killing defense mechanism was also destroying my faith. After much soul searching (and prayer), I learned that it is possible to maintain balance, allow my faith to “grow” and still semi-protect myself from life’s let downs by reminding myself of the following truths:
1. Above all else, trust God. He knows best.
2. Even if it doesn’t make sense now, almost everything happens for a reason.
3. Being told no is not the end of the world.
4. Disappointments are not to be owned or internalized.
Sure life is has its curveballs and let downs, but it’s also filled with amazing moments, wonderful opportunities and spectacular surprises. Today, I can confidently say that I’ve found the courage to hope.
Follow Jazmine Denise on Twitter @jazminedenise.