Have you ever experienced that odd sensation of having your words boomerang back to you?
Maybe you’re a parent, and you hear your own expressions coming off the lips of your child. Maybe you’re a teacher, and you overhear a student parroting back one of your lessons. Or maybe you’re a writer, and God uses your own words to preach right back to you.
A beloved group of women threw a baby shower for me last week, and as I looked around the room, it was all I could do to keep my mascara in its rightful place. I’ve worked and prayed alongside these women for the past 14 years, which that means they’ve seen me through a lot of hopes and heartbreaks and life stages. They knew me when I was single and attended bridal shower after bridal shower, unsure if I’d ever be the one to tell my story of how God brought the right man into my life. They knew me when I was married to Daniel, longing for a baby of our own and wondering if God would grant this desire of our hearts.
As I looked around at the decorations made specifically for Baby Spark, with the tiny white lights and the banners that said “Twinkle, twinkle,” I was overwhelmed by God’s kindness. These women had hoped on my behalf when I couldn’t muster up hope for myself. That’s one of the secret weapons of community, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s easier to hope and pray for the tender places in another person’s soul when we can’t pray for our own. And it’s a privilege (albeit a humbling one) to allow them to hope for us.
I saved the cards from the shower to read when I got home, because let’s be serious, we would have had a serious mascara situation on our hands if I’d read everyone’s kind words to me and Spark right there at work. On the inside of one of the cards, I read a quote a friend had written. The words hit exactly where my heart was—grappling with hope as Daniel and I wonder about our baby’s health and count down the days until we meet this little one. The words seemed somewhat familiar, although I couldn’t quite place them:
Hope doesn’t usually make its debut in a flashy way, with trumpets and fanfare and paparazzi. It doesn’t start out as a huge bonfire or a stunning blaze; rather, it’s just a small spark, the mere flicker of a candle. But in the midst of the darkness, that lone flame is enough. It’s the promise that even though you can’t yet see what your heart is longing for, even though there’s no indication that it will happen at all, you can keep hanging on.
I was surprised by the appropriateness of the quote, and impressed that my friend had found something that mentioned spark, to boot. Then I saw my friend’s note at the bottom: “This is from the Christmas letter you sent in 2010,” she said.
Sure enough, the words were my own. They had come back to haunt me in the most beautiful and unexpected way. That was the year I met Daniel—the year so many hopes I’d cherished for years were at last fulfilled. And now I find myself on a similar precipice, but on the other side: hoping for a miracle that hasn’t happened yet.
Isn’t that the beauty of having some history with hope? When we can’t look forward, we can look back. When we don’t know what the future holds, we can remember what God has done in the past and be reminded of his character. He may not write the same story twice, but those previous chapters are evidence of the overarching themes: that he is faithful and that he loves us like crazy.
It can be scary to let people get close to those tender places of our deepest hopes. But it’s worth it. Because when we invite people in, not only can they hope on our half; they can also bring our own words of hope back to the surface. They can make sure our hope boomerangs back to us, right when we need it.
Hope is what is left when your worst fears have been realized. . . . Hope is what comes with a broken heart willing to be mended.
Patricia E. De Jong