Last semester I was forced to face a broken heart. You know all those little hurts from the past that one tends to push under the rug and think will never pop up again? Yes. Dreams that were once crushed, hopes that were disappointed, tears hidden, stars that disappeared. Everyone has them. Rarely are they faced. But I had to face them. Recovering from a heart-breaking summer, I found every small sorrow from the past popping up in my mind as I walked down the sidewalk, as I sang songs of worship in church and broke down crying whenever those songs mentioned God’s compassion on a broken heart. As I decided God didn’t really care about hurt, because it kept coming.
I still had dreams for the future – thoughts of changing the world. But I never wanted to actually think I could accomplish it. Never thought one should allow oneself to think one could actually touch that star. Because all that ever happened was disappointment. I was once talking to a friend. I told her about how someone had said they would visit me, adding casually that I knew they wouldn’t. I talked about how I had sent something to someone else to listen to, but knew they would actually find time. I told her how one should always expect the highest out of boys, but know that it wouldn’t actually happen. She listened to me with an amused smile, and surprised eyes, finally commenting how cynical I was. I was taken aback. I’d never been called cynical. Usually, I was the dreamer, the romantic, who expected the impossible to come true. And that was true, in a way. When it came to romance, I had the highest aspirations and dreams. Fairy-tale expectations. But looking deeper, I knew that while I liked fairy-tale romance, I hated real romance, and intended to avoid it at all costs–because all I could expect out of it was a broken heart. How could I be so contradictory? How could I have such high hopes and low expectations? I was a paradox even I didn’t understand.
But no matter how many lofty dreams I cited, there was one thing I knew. One piece of advice I would have given to anyone who might have asked. Never let your hopes get up – never really hope. Aim high, yes, but don’t hope. Because all hope does is disappoint. That I believed fervently, based upon past experience. If I ever allowed myself to hope, I would be hurt. And I was so tired of being hurt.
But last semester while I was being forced to face all of my past sorrows that had been buried under the rug, I was trying desperately to rediscover who God was – who this God was whom I had dedicated my life to, and Who had seemed to disappoint me, just like everyone else in my life. And once, while I was reading the Bible, I came across a verse that startled me. It was the most well known verse in the Bible. “And these three remain, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” My eyes focused on that word – hope. I’d never noticed it before. I knew it was there, obviously, but like everyone else, my eyes had always immediately skipped to the last part of the verse: “the greatest of these is love.” But, startlingly, I realized that although love was mentioned as the greatest, that didn’t mean the other two weren’t important. In fact, they had a high enough standing in God’s book to make it on the top three list.
Hope. God actually wanted me to hope? Didn’t He realize what that meant? That meant that I would be putting my heart at risk. That I could be hurt – broken-hearted again. That every time I dared to hope, I was putting myself on the line. Didn’t He understand that? How could He order me to actually do something I’d sworn off of for years?
Unbidden came to my mind the image of Christ hanging on the cross. Why had He done that? Why had He made that sacrifice? So that Christians, humans, could have hope for the future. Without His sacrifice, there was no reason to live. Why did people keep going day after day in a cold life full of disappointments? They were hopeful – hopeful for a better future, a new tomorrow. Why did people run for public office, when all they could expect was magazines full of dirt dug up or made up by reporters and harsh criticism from those they were trying to serve? They hoped to make a better tomorrow for the next generation. They gave up peace and a quiet life in the hope of helping make a greater country, state, town.
This tiny little word inspired writers to write their books, musicians to write their music, college students to follow their dreams – and a tiny country called America to assert independence. This word caused broken hearts, yes, but it also caused living. Art. Love. Ambitions. It created stars. Without hope, there would be no God, no dreams, no life. Yes, God was asking me to put my heart on the line for Him. For hope.
Because that is one word worth breaking my heart over.