Hope

Crossing My Fingers Taught Me This

As the clicking drew closer, anticipation birthed equal parts excitement and anxiety in me. This was the day the principal would announce the Student of the Month. My six-year-old self launched into earnest prayer because there was nothing I wanted more than that award. With fingers crossed, eyes closed, and an inaudible plea {please let it be me, God}, I waited.

There were innumerable times I’d offered desperate prayers for items not so important to me now. They sounded a little like this: Please let my dad say I can get the E.T. shoes from Buster Brown. Let my mom say it’s okay to go to the concert in another state. Let him like me. Let the job be mine.

With crossed fingers and closed eyes, I hoped for a yes.

Hope.

Crossing my fingers wasn’t bad theology, as it turns out. It taught me how to hope for things that matched a desire in my heart. The object of my hope was immature, and mostly driven by momentary satisfaction, or in some cases, deep insecurity, but every time I found myself crossing my fingers an opportunity to hope existed.

And just where are we without hope?

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

I love the imagery in that verse, but you can’t help but wonder why our soul would need an anchor? Something about that feels mystical, odd, and abstract at first glance. However, looking back over the years at my tendencies and decisions, I think I understand. I am prone to chase false hope and be tossed about by the next new thing. That’s just it. When hope is in things, it is perishable. Trends change quickly. Popularity has a shelf life.

When I wanted to win the accolade in elementary school, my value was on the line. My worth crashed in a million pieces around my feet when my name wasn’t called. Because I was chasing a perishing hope, I worked overtime crafting plans that would demonstrate how awesome I was for the next time. My strategy game was strong. I would come to school early and clean the erasers, carry the teachers lunch tray, offer to scratch her back while she read the afternoon story, or run a note to the office. These were all nice things, but they were motivated by a desire to win approval.

I hoped my performance was good enough to win the award.

Hoping in my own ability to “pull something off” was ill-fitting. In fact, it began to suffocate me. My own ability and performance was a terrible context for hope. If my game was off, I would beat myself up. I could of, should of, would of began coursing through my self-talk and exploiting itself in my decisions.

Learning to let myself off the hook  and hope in something greater than my performance was key. Know how I learned that? A lot of crying and wishing things had turned out differently. Failure and disappointment are great teachers-as it turns out.

Hope didn’t arrive in a perfect performance, or an anticipated yes. I found anchored Hope by surrendering all that jazz, and uncovering a greater purpose, deeper meaning, and a secure footing that transcended personal ability.

I should tell you I was eventually awarded Student of the Month that year. I had a few moments of exhilaration holding that certificate, picking out two new books, and seeing my name prominently displayed in the hallway. Sadly, that month came to an end and my name was removed from the bulletin board. Just like that, I was back on the treadmill of proving my worth because my hope was anchored in the shifting sand of personal ability.

I wish I could tell you that I got over that hang up a long time ago. I didn’t. Regular hope check-ups are a part of my routine. Often, my hope is rooted in Jesus, but sometimes I discover it’s linked to my abilities. When my writing submission is rejected a battle wages within me and I rehearse all the reasons I should quit trying. That’s me with a limited ability to see and a hope that is only secure if the yes comes.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

This hope= Jesus.

Maybe you are hoping for a long-awaited answer, position, resolution, or affirmation. Maybe you are weary, or heavy-burdened by the tension in the waiting. If your mistakes overshadow your joy, or your longings are rooted in a single answer, have you considered the context of your hope?

10 thoughts on “Crossing My Fingers Taught Me This

  1. Awe, you are so precious, Alyssa… wish I could go back in time and nurture your younger self – but then that would be a little weird me being in High School and you in Elementary, wouldn’t it? Oh, but I do see that little girl in you so often and I love her dearly!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Popularity has a shelf life.” Argh – so good!! So many treasures and truths in that post… and you know I’m nodding to every word. Thank you, and again – thank you. Authenticity can’t be “faked,” and you are the real deal my friend. Thanks for always taking me to Jesus. Love you dearly!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Hope in something greater than MY PERFORMANCE!”
    Oh my ! How many times have I been motivated by my performance….NOT by Jesus and what he desires for me? Thank you dear friend for reminding me to “look up” for my motivation!

    Liked by 1 person

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