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The Power of Hope

March 14, 2013

This framed photo is one of my favorite things.  This is due only in part to the fact that I look half decent in it. The older I get the more I grimace at photos of myself.

hope pic

In this one, I don’t look too shabby. Tim’s pretty hot, himself.  This picture was taken a few years ago, but we like to pretend we haven’t changed much.

Vanity aside, it’s dear to me for a bigger reason:  We look HAPPY.

And the four-letter word gracing the frame serves as a reminder of how we got there.

There were times when we weren’t so happy.  In fact, there were times that we couldn’t even remember what happy looked like or felt like. There were times we thought we’d never be happy again. EVER.

We were on the brink of divorce more often and for longer than I care to admit.

We tried counseling.

We tried it again.

And again.

We tried being nicer, serving each other better, romantic gestures, talking things to death, “fake it til ya make it,” and the list goes on.

He tried not being a cold-hearted jerk and I tried not being an emotional shrew.

Nothing worked. Not for long, anyway.

On the surface that list looked (and felt) more like being polite through gritted teeth, mutually going through the motions of domestic service, forced romance, fighting, and pretending we enjoyed all the so-called efforts we were making to obtain marital bliss.

No one was buying it.

We were ready to give up again and again. (And again and again.)

After what seemed like a lifetime of failure, we found victory in a surprising form. We didn’t find all the answers to our problems. We didn’t find a magic wand or a magic eraser to wipe out our past and present hurts.

We found hope. Actually, we didn’t find it.  It was handed to us.

I know what you’re thinking: Hope can’t fix anything.

You’re right, too. In and of itself, hope can’t fix anything.  But without hope, you can’t fix much.

Part of the motions we went through so many years ago involved going to weekly Life Group meetings. Our married Life Group leaders were a bit younger than us, but they had a solid marriage and solid relationships with God. They reached out to help us in our marriage.

In our first meeting with them, we talked about many things I don’t remember now. What I do remember is the one tool they gave us that changed our lives.

In their wisdom they knew that nothing we did to save our marriage was going to work if we didn’t have hope. It was clear that our hope was gone. Finished. Kaput.

Tim wanted out. He wanted it bad. I was more stubborn. I was determined to make him stay work things out, but I had lost hope, too. Even if we stayed married, I had lost hope that we’d ever be happily married.

Our Life Group leaders gave us only one assignment.

They didn’t tell us to love each other more. They didn’t tell us to forgive. They didn’t tell us to work through any issues and didn’t ask about our childhoods. They didn’t tell us to go on dates or buy each other gifts.

They gave us a scripture. A scripture of hope:

Now-may-the-God-of-hope

Our instructions were to say this scripture to each other at least once a day. We were to pray it for ourselves individually, for each other and for our marriage.  We were to do any or all of these any time we felt like giving up.

I have to admit we thought it was ridiculous.  In our minds, our marriage was so far gone that saying some flowery scripture to each other wasn’t going to do anything but add stress and make us feel awkward.

Before we even left our leaders’ house,  I lost what thread of hope was left. I just knew Tim wouldn’t even try it. I braced myself for Tim to finally turn the door knob that his hand had been on for so long and walk out the door for good.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was wrong about Tim, and we were both wrong about the scripture.

People, it WORKED.

Not immediately, but it worked.

There is no explanation for it, except that we were speaking God’s word to each other, for each other, and about each other. We prayed God’s very own words to Him for our marriage.

That’s some mind-blowing power, right there.

Speaking these words of promise literally infused hope into our lives and transformed us. We not only found hope like never before to renew our relationship, but we learned first-hand about the power of speaking and praying God’s word.

Hope didn’t fix the problems, and there was still a lot of work to be done. Hope was not a magic wand or an instant fix.

But it DID change our lives. For the better, and for good.

Without hope, we were powerless to fix the problems. Without hope, we were powerless to do the work. Hope gave us the will and the strength to believe.  Hope gave us a way to start again by renewing our faith in each other, in our love, and in our God.

Who can have any faith at all without first having hope?

To be honest, we’d lost faith in God, too.  We had cried out to Him so many times to help us and we still couldn’t get it right.

The “hope exercise” (as I like to call it) renewed our faith in God right along with our faith in each other.  We haven’t had to say this scripture to each other in a long time, but all these years later I am still amazed at the power that speaking God’s word had in our lives.

And I am humbled.  After all the fruitless (and exhausting) efforts we made in the flesh to save our marriage, just the sprinkling of God’s words with only a mustard seed of faith changed our lives.

Now I can honestly say, “I am my beloved’s and he is mine.”

Is there anything you’ve lost hope in?  If you have, this scripture is for you.  Speak it; pray it; believe it.

I’ll even pray this for you. Let me know in the comments or email me if you want to remain private.

For all of you: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

{hugs}

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39 Comments
  1. Gloria Jackson permalink

    Hugs to you my beautiful daughter. Best blog thus far. I can feel your heart and I am so sure that your words can really inspire. Keep up the good work.

  2. Reminds me of a book I once read (wish I could remember what it was or who it was by). The author compared Biblical relationship model vs what he called the “Hollywood” model (although it’s all media and culture, not just movies). This was so brilliant it has stuck with me for a long time.

    Hollywood Model:

    1. Find the right person
    2. Fall in love
    3. Attach your hopes and dreams to that person
    4. If anything goes wrong, repeat steps 1-3

    We can see that this all hinges on feelings and emotion. You find “the one”, fall in love with them, and get married and live happily ever after. If something goes wrong, though, then they must not really have been “the one” … you need to ditch them go find that perfect “soul mate” out there that will “complete you”. This really is the model that we are being fed day-in and day-out… it’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high.

    Biblical Model:

    1. Be the right person
    2. Walk in love
    3. Attach your hopes and dreams to God
    4. If anything goes wrong, repeat steps 1-3

    In this model, the emphasis is on each individual to focus on being who God has called them to be. From there, you treat *all* your relationships with love and respect—”Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:3-4). We then attach our hopes and dreams to God who, unlike everything else (intentionally or unintentionally), will not fail us—if our hopes and dreams lie in Christ, then disappointment from others won’t rock our foundations. Finally, if anything goes wrong (and it will), your first action is to look at yourself. What are your failings that have contributed to the trouble? Where can you improve? How should you respond? From there you “walk in love”—give the other person grace, humility, and forgiveness—not in proportion to what they deserve, but in proportion to what God has given *you* (a lot). Finally, remember through it all, that your ultimate hope lies in Christ and not this other person, which helps give you the strength to respond in a loving fashion and not be angry/resentful/sad/despondent/emotionally bankrupt when that person needs more love/forgiveness than they deserve, and when you need more than they are giving you.

    • Darren, you don’t comment a lot, but when you do, I love it! You always have such thought-provoking responses. There is a lot you’ve pointed out here that hits me where I’m at today, but not necessarily in my marriage. Most marriage principals can be applied to other relationships, too. When relationship issues arise, it’s so easy to take our eyes off of God and keep them on the problems and hurts. That’s a recipe for disaster, or at least a big build-up of resentment.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. prayingforoneday permalink

    WOW
    I found your through a friend merbear74 ., what a read!
    With nothing working, hope did.
    And a small act neither of you thought would work, worked.
    This is a GREAT story. For anyone in the position you and Tim were in, this proves that through hope and “Keeping on, Keeping on” Things can work, or get better, or show signs of progress.

    I am glad I found your blog. And I am following.
    I hope you and Tim are good, Inspiration I love.
    This was that.

    Shaun

    • Thank you, Shaun, for reading, following and commenting. I am so glad you found inspiration in my words. You are officially my first commenter that isn’t a friend or family, so you made my day! I will check out your blog as well.
      Thanks again!

      • prayingforoneday permalink

        Thank you.
        I loved the story you told.
        It is “Hope” and some more.
        I am happy you sorted things out.
        And I look forward to further debate and reading and sharing.

        Shaun x

  4. I already knew this story but it still made me cry! but it also made me think about my own life & where I should apply hope myself. I love how God can teach one person something & when they apply it to their life, He multiplies that lesson to others…in so many different areas of life. My marriage is good, but the thought provoking this did for me was the areas of my life I don’t put much effort into improving because I have deemed them hopeless…not really being aware I had done this until your BLOG made me think about it. I am anxious to reap the results of applying hope to my own life. Thanks for taking the time to write & share this story of a hard time in your your life…and thank you for trusting God in your situation & having a testimony of how God helps us overcome them; it will surely bless countless people if they choose to do it in their lives as well. Good stuff!

    • Thank you, Robin, and thanks for sharing on Facebook. Wish I could transfer the comments over to the blog. (haha) Oh well, I’m glad people have found some good in this post, wherever they leave comments! I was too chicken to share on Facebook.

  5. Anje Waalkes permalink

    Thank you for sharing Rhonda – brought tears to my eyes! Not sad but glad ones 🙂

    • Aww, thank you, Anje! I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for reading, and for commenting. I’ve been too chicken to share this blog, but getting good feedback really helps! 🙂

  6. I’m not married just yet, but this will definitely come into good use once I am married. Not only for marriage, but for the relationship Chase and I are building now. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  7. Haley McFarland permalink

    Although I am not married, this will definitely come into great use with Chase and I. This is a great relationship builder for anyone. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Haley McFarland permalink

    Oops! Didn’t mean to post two! haha. And here’s my third…:)

  9. Meagan permalink

    This is really good Rhonda! What a great testimony. I think it’s awesome you shared this and can inspire others. You have such a gift with words. I have so many friends that lost hope and divorced. If only they could have read this. I’m proud of you for sharing something so personal. Love ya lots!

    • Thanks, Meagan. I’m glad you like it. I hope it is inspiring; I guess sometimes our own difficulties really can help others if we find a way through them and can share what helped us. So glad to see you here on my “Dizzy Stir”! ha ha

  10. Wow! I’m glad I’m not the only one that got got choked up, though I’m probably the only man, ha ha. It still amazes me how far we have come. Like you said, it didn’t fix things over night but that Word carried us through and gave us something to hold on to and build from. I am so blessed and so thankful for the marriage we have now and that verse still gives me hope for the rest of our lives as we continue to learn and grow. I love you and am very proud of you!

    • Thank you, dear! I’m glad you feel that way ’cause there’s no getting rid of me now! 🙂

  11. I love that you guys did this and that you shared it! I too got teary. I really want to meet Tim some day. You’re awesome, my dear!

    • Thanks, Pamela. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of feedback I’ve been getting on this, though most of it hasn’t been in the form of actual comments on the post. (ha ha) My page views hit an all time high with this one. Funny thing is, it was the most spur of the moment and least-edited post I’ve written so far.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Kensi Kempf permalink

    I read this while I was at work when you very first posted this and I realized I forgot to comment! This is so inspirational mom! You guys are amazing and I’m glad y’all never have up on each other! Love you guys so dearly

    • We love you, too, Kensi! Glad you liked this. I love your feedback. Can’t wait to see you. Won’t be long! (I hope!)

  13. That was awesome. That has always been my favorite scripture and is the signature on my yahoo email account, but I never actually thought about it that much or considered its benefit in my marriage of all places. Thank you for that. It was just what I needed to right now and I never would have found you if you weren’t near my name on the A to Z challenge list that I “impulsively” signed up for this morning. What a “coincidence”. Our God, He’s tricky.

    • I just got chills! 🙂 I signed up impulsively for the challenge, too! I haven’t planned a single post as I didn’t even know about the challenge until this morning. I thought it might motivate me to write more. Just yesterday I was getting discouraged and thinking I shouldn’t be blogging at all. ha!
      I’m so glad you liked this post and that it is something you needed! Hearing THAT is just what I needed, so you gave back! Thank you, thank you for commenting! And yes, He is tricky. But in a good way! 😉

  14. treymc44 permalink

    Wow! This is a great blog!!! Love to see your writing about these things that could help other people in their marriages! Love you and hope you continue to write more like these!

    • Aww, thanks, Trey! Glad to see you back reading and commenting! Thought I was gonna have to assign “guaranteed commenter” to someone else. 🙂 Ha ha!
      Love you too!

      • treymc44 permalink

        I know, I’m sorry! Don’t reassign me! I know who is out for the job (Kensi) lol I just never check my email and it would be awesome if this site texted me! But now that you are doing a daily challenge I will be checking everyday! Trey’s back! And I’m staying……. Lol P’s. Favorite Nag signing out! Lol 🙂 🙂

        • Ha Ha, Trey, you’ll always be my Favorite Nag. 🙂 Yes, Kensi is hot on your heels as far as number of comments. This site doesn’t text you but I can, if you’d like!

          • treymc44 permalink

            Ha Ha. She better back up!! lol Im kidding (not really)

          • Well, on most of the posts she just comments once, where you have an actual conversation, so that kind of keeps you in the lead. 😉

  15. Tammy permalink

    Rhonda, I love this blog! Your words in this are reflected in your’s and Tim’s actions and words. I knew it had to be God’s Words that made the change when ya’ll spoke them, prayed them, and believed them. I love you both!!

  16. Aw, thanks, Tammy! Great to see you here! God’s word is indeed powerful. Life can get in the way and make us forget that, but it’s so much better when we remember and use it!
    Thanks for reading and commenting! Love you too!

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