Hope is a risky thing.
The buds on the trees have been slowly developing over the past few weeks – so slowly that you might not have noticed them until now, when their colors start to fade into focus.
Last summer, we planted a “Jane Magnolia” tree – a tulip tree – and I have been eagerly anticipating spring when pink and white blooms would present themselves for the first time.
Last fall, we planted daffodils, and my insides have become giddy as the bulbs have recently bloomed to welcome spring. This is our first March in our new house; next month will make one year since we moved in, and I feel that our own daffodils blooming is the last piece of the puzzle to make this house our home. Daffodils have always been my favorite.
With a milder winter, I certainly haven’t complained about the lack of snow, but I have suspiciously resisted from calling it an early spring. March snows are always a possibility, and I fear for the state of the blossoms peeking out from under their covers. I don’t want to get my hopes up that winter really is over, because I fear being pounded with inches of snow and having to dig out my puffy coat again.
That has to be one of the worst feelings in the world – getting your hopes up for something, and really believing it will happen, only to be thoroughly disappointed and discouraged. It jades us, makes us cynics in a world that is increasingly more welcoming to the cynical and doubtful.
Hope can seem too risky, too naive.
We want to outsmart the things we can’t control, so we hold back from believing in what is possible, suspect that things won’t ever really change, or refrain from making plans because we hate the idea that they won’t work out. We want to be able to say, “I told you so” to cover our disappointment and to pretend that we aren’t hurt.
But if I’m not careful, I will carry this attitude with me all through the month of March, claiming that spring is “too good to be true.” Then April will hit and I will realize that I missed the joy of the whole month – the early bloomers, the budding trees, the grass slowly turning green. The joy of the world preparing itself to reveal life after a bare, windy winter.
I will have missed delighting in the daffodils for fear that they will be killed by a late snow.
“You set your heart too much on things, Anne,” said Marilla, with a sigh. “I’m afraid there’ll be a great many disappointments in store for you through life.”
“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, `Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.” –Anne of Green Gables
I don’t want to miss out on the fun of looking forward to what’s next.
Often, the anticipation of something is just as fun as actually getting it. Think about a child trying to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, or the planning and packing for a big trip, or the moments leading up to a bride walking down the aisle to her groom. Time seems to move so slowly when you want something to happen, but it’s a feeling that you can’t create unless you are in the situation. The better the thing you are waiting for, the harder the wait. The more you start to doubt that it won’t come. But the rush of emotion when it does come is better than the numbness of never believing it would come in the first place.
I want to live a life that is hopeful, not suspicious. I want to enjoy March for all it has to offer, even if it teeters on the possibility of early spring regressing to late winter. I want to take out my sandals and short sleeves without shame, without worry of what tomorrow might bring.
And I want to be present in my own life seasons of March.
In the waiting for a baby, it’s easy to let the months pile up as reasons to doubt that the future will change. Don’t they call insanity doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results? Yet that can pretty much feel like the journey to get pregnant. It’s discouraging, it’s uncontrollable, and it doesn’t seem to change.
Maybe you can relate in your own season of March, in the wait for a desire to be fulfilled. You start to feel ashamed each time that it doesn’t happen, you begin to quiet your sadness when talking to others, you want to outsmart your hope each month that something will be different. You harden yourself to hope, instead thinking it’s easier to just forget your desire and avoid the pain that comes each time you realize it’s not going to happen.
But I don’t want to live in ignorance of the buds which are starting to unfurl in this season. There’s beauty in those early stages. I don’t want to avoid disappointment at the cost of avoiding the experiences of life – both joy and pain. I want to be present each day in the month of March, not worrying about whether or not the temperature will drop in a week.
Because there is joy in anticipation and fun in the wait. There is something to be valued in the suspense of this beautiful yet unpredictable life, especially as we remember that we have a God Who is sovereign over those details. He tells the bulbs when to bloom and He reminds us that His hand is in every detail of March. We can hope not because it will guarantee a change in circumstances, but because our hope draws us closer to God. He alone holds the power to move us into spring or stay us in the winter, and His purpose in either season is greater than what we can understand.
I know the risk, but I am choosing to hope in the fickleness of March, bringing my hope to His presence no matter what happens next.