Did you know that hope is a virtue? You probably did, because you're way smarter than me. I guess I knew that it was a virtue, but I didn't really think about what that might mean. You know, specifically in the fact that virtues take work. Typically hard work. How many times do we hear that "patience is a virtue"? (Oh, you don't? Maybe that's just me, then, since I wouldn't know patience if it punched me in the face.) I know that love is more than a feeling. Loving someone, whoever it might be, often takes work.
I was treating hope as a feeling. It was a delightful feeling that I sometimes had, but that when it left, I sort of thought maybe I'd be better off without it at all. I would hope that at this function or when I moved to this place or started this activity, that maybe I would finally meet someone. The hope was wonderful, but then when all of those things happened without meeting anyone that was much of a prospect, my hopes would be dashed, and I would fall into a dark place. I then started to avoid hope, because it just wasn't worth it when hope left.
However, hope as a virtue. What is that all about? For my answer, I turned to the dictionary. Yes, that's right. Even though you might think you know a word, the dictionary can sometimes dig up some interesting dirt.
1 A feeling of expectation or desire for a certain thing to happen (Oh, yes, dictionary, I hear you here. Exactly what I would have expected to find!)
-A person or thing that may help or save someone (Hmm. This puts a little twist on it. Who or what am I hoping for? Because if I'm hoping that meeting a guy will "save" me from anything, it might make things awfully difficult for both of us.)
- Grounds for believing that something good may happen (Well, here again. What grounds am I looking at, precisely? The grounds that I just got involved in a particular activity, or grounds that a God who loves us is looking out for us?)
2 archaic To place trust; rely
Oh. Uh, hmm. Okay. There's where the virtue comes in. Hope is hard. When you can't see what's coming, or if things are going to work out the way that you want, it is very hard to place trust in God's plan that you cannot see. But it's okay, because He does have a plan, and He's going to lead us through it, whatever it may be.
That feeling of expectation or desire is fine, as long as it is based on the fact that God is the one that I am relying on the help or save me, and that my grounds for trust is that He loves me and He's got my back. Then, what I hope for may or may not happen, but it need not crush me if it doesn't happen. Because ultimately my hope is not in a future husband, but rather in my Beloved.
Now, if I was really holy, I could get into the fact that the virtue of hope is primarily ordered to helping us to hope to spend eternity with God. One step at a time, people.