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Why I Wrote When It Hurts to Hope

Updated: Dec 31

Like most of us who start business, invent a product, write a book or a song or an email, we are solving a problem. There’s something missing in your world, and you take it upon yourself to fill the gap, for yourself and others.

In the summer of 2020, I became aware of a problem I had experienced, but not named, for quite some time. It felt like a weight, an invisible force pressing on my chest. As I wrote in my last post, I was nearing my thirtieth birthday and an intense anxiety began to break through the surface, popping up only to be bat down by my frantic efforts to contain it—a game of emotional “Whac-A-Mole”—because life wasn’t turning out the way I thought it would 🥴

And—to add insult to injury—none of my efforts to wrangle my circumstances were working! Gasp! (Turns out, I’m extremely incompetent when it comes to running the world).

So many of the resources about my perceived problem (singleness, loneliness, desire for a family of my own) were about “fixing it.” How to’s. Guides. Roadmaps. The type of content that makes self-help junkies salivate (I know because I’m one of them 🙋🏻‍♀️).

And yes: I believe in our God-given responsibility to take ownership of our lives. To work hard. To recognize that we have choices in our how lives play out.

But what do you do after you’ve done “all the right things,” and life still doesn’t look like you thought it would? What do you do when the gospel of self-help leads you to a dead end? What do you do when it hurts to hope?

Quote by Rachel Miller: What do you do after you've done all the right things and life still doesn't look like you thought it would?

The question I am attempting to answer in my book—the question that has sent me on a deep dive into Scripture and my own perplexed heart—is this: How do you live with unmet longing? How do you honor a good desire, hope that it comes to fruition, and still trust that if your dreams don’t come true, God is still good?

How do we live in the tension of “not yet”?

Or, worse: How do we keep living well when the answer is “no”?

And not just live, but thrive! I want to be a woman who greets each day with enthusiasm and strength, walking in the good works that my heavenly Father has prepared for me. I want identity and security that doesn’t change based on how my life is going.

Many of us—from church backgrounds or not—lack tools for improving our emotional health. I had no clue how to relate to these deep, heavy, defining longings that I carry. Sometimes, they are so strong, they carry me.

Through the process of writing this book, I’ve become more convinced than ever that our unmet longing can become one of the most powerful sources of connection to God IF (and that “if” matters) we can relate to them properly, such as:

  • Honoring our hopes while honoring God at the same time.

  • Allowing our longings take up space while not allowing them to control us.

  • Refusing to stuff our dreams down and slap on a plastic smile on to cover the pain.

People of faith have always “longed for a better country” (Hebrews 11:16). The author of Hebrews commends saints who suffered by ending the “hall of faith” chapter with these words: “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God has something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” (Hebrews 11:39-40).

My prayer is that this book helps courageous people choose faith. To live in the tension of delayed dreams and be transformed by the process. To draw closer to God when it hurts to hope instead of resisting him, running from him, or resenting him.


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