I did not win the award. In fact, I was not even selected as one of Utah’s five finalists.
I was devastated, humiliated and chagrined. I questioned everything from my teaching ability to my self worth. Nothing seemed certain any more. I had hoped so much….and it hurt so bad. SO BAD.
Miles loves football and has loved it, passionately, for a long, long time. Finally, in fifth grade, he talked us into letting him play Little League football. Though he was not large (“I’m the 23rd tallest one in my class [of 25]” he told me once) he was very passionate. During practice Miles was the kid who always gave 100% effort. He ran to the drills, he ran through the drills and he from the drills back to the starting line. He ran at the first of the pack when they ran laps and ran back to the coach when called into a huddle. He loved football with all his heart and he gave all his heart to football.
Due to his small size and lack of experience, he did not get much game time as a fifth grader. He did not grow much over the year--he was still one of the smallest on the team--but he had gained experience and he entered his sixth grade season fully intending to be a powerful force for his team. In his mind, his hard work and whole-hearted effort the year before had earned him the right to play. His hopes ran high.
His hopes ran high but his playing time did not. Game after game after game, he watched the action from the sidelines. Every Saturday he started the game full of hope and every Saturday he exited the game full of hurt---pain caused not by being hit on the playing field but by not being able to play on the field. He had hoped so much….and it hurt so bad. SO BAD.
Grace looked forward to being drama club president her entire junior year. She wanted to be drama club president. It seemed the advisor wanted her to be drama club president. Members of her drama club family wanted her to be president. Many spoke of her appointment as president as a foregone conclusion. Assuming the inevitability of the her presidency she schemed and dreamed about her presidency...projects she’d promote, activities she’d sponsor, traditions she’d honor, etc… Being drama club president would be the capstone of her senior year.
And then she was asked to be treasurer. Not even vice-president. Treasurer. She had hoped so much...and it hurt so bad. SO BAD.
So, if hope hurts (and it does) and if pain in unpleasant (which it is) then it seems obvious that it would be a good idea to stop hoping. Don’t hope, don’t hurt, right? Wrong. A life without hope would be….hopeless. And hopelessness is NOT a good idea for many, many reasons. So, are we destined to hope and hurt?
As I pondered the hope hurts issue, I wrestled with my doctrinal knowledge that hope is one of the three great virtues of Christianity. Christ said “...faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me--the fountain of all righteousness.” (Ether 12:28) If hope is painful, why is it one of Christianity’s cornerstones?
My “ah ha” moment came when I realized there is a difference between hopes earthly and hopes eternal. Hopes based on things of this world will be painful at times. (See above.) There will also be times when our terrestrial hopes bring great rejoicing. Saturday Miles hit the game-winning three point shot for his basketball team, something he has always hoped to do. Believe me, there has been much rejoicing. Hoping for things, events, occasions, attitudes or altitudes in this life is painful sometimes and sometimes it is not. Hope’s variable schedule of reinforcement keeps up hoping (and sometimes hurting) and that is good, much better than the sterile world of hopelessness.
Hopes earthly are good. Hopes eternal are powerful. Eternal hopes are based on Christ. Eternal hopes center on Him and His promises. When we have faith in Christ we “hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal.” (Moroni 7:41) Hope in Christ helps. “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) It gives us confidence that “all will work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28) Hope in Christ offers us the peace “that passeth understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and gives us a solid foundation upon which we can build our lives. Hope in Christ is a cornerstone of Christianity precisely because it is not painful; it is a cornerstone because it overcomes pain. Hope in Christ does not hurt.