Even Though My Arms Are Empty, They Are Full of Hope

hope

The room to the left at the top of the stairs was supposed to be the nursery. As soon as I saw the small square room, filled with natural light, I pictured my baby in my arms, singing him or her to sleep. I was a few weeks pregnant when my husband and I purchased our small cape-cod style home. Four years and four miscarriages later, my arms and the room remained empty. Over time, a small IKEA writing desk found it’s way into the space. We told ourselves it was temporary. The room provided a quiet place to work and extra storage for winter coats, but we never stopped calling that room, “the nursery.”

 

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Admittedly, my relationship with hope was complicated. On most days, it felt like an avenue of disappointment. I questioned the purpose of hope. It felt too vulnerable to ask for something I wanted so badly, not knowing if the answer would be yes or no. If I expected nothing, how could I be disappointed? Yet, against the evidence of our circumstances, my heart still leaned toward hope. I was drawn to the possibility of what God could do in my life. Though my arms were empty, they were somehow, still full of hope.

Hope that trusts the steadfast character of God over changing circumstances 

I prayed every day for my circumstances to change—that one day, I would get to hold a baby in my arms. I believe it is a good thing to make our requests known to God. But I realized over time, that I was interacting with God as if He were merely the facilitator to my agenda or the power source for my plans. I was focused on what God could do for me instead of what He was doing in me. Often, we ask God for a way out. But regardless of the outcome, trusting God’s steadfast character offers us a way through our pain, giving us a reason to hope.

 

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Hope that trusts God’s promises over my plans

I used to think that a goal achieved or the fulfillment of a dream makes hope a good idea. But no matter how beautiful and honorable the dream might be, our dreams are meant to display God’s glory and bring us into deeper communion with Him. Remaining committed to our plans can lead us to forget that God is more committed to our good than we are.  We may not understand His ways. At times, we may even be confused or disappointed by His ways. But trusting that His ways are better than our will leads us to continue to hope.

Hope that recognizes that it’s Who we receive that leads to peace and joy 

Certainly God can and does move in our lives, and so many of us have stories of breakthrough—testimonies of His faithfulness. But we don’t ask because it guarantees a change in our circumstances. We ask because it changes us. We hope not because of what we receive but because of Whom we receive regardless of the outcome. Clinging to hope and making our requests known to God transforms us because we are making a statement about what we know is true about God. Here, we remember that our ultimate hope is not in the gift itself, but in the Giver.

Hope in a Savior who identifies with our pain 

From His humble arrival to His sacrifice on the cross, we can take great comfort in a God who was both fully God and fully man during His life on earth. He chose the human experience—to feel what we feel. He absorbed our emotional and physical pain on the cross and He was present with me in my pain then. Though we cannot fix ourselves or the pain of our circumstances, we can shift our gaze to a Savior who fixed Himself to a cross on our behalf, sealing our assurance that what is dark today will not be dark forever.

Maybe you have a complicated relationship with hope too. You’re afraid it’s a road that will only lead you to disappointment and despair. You feel like holding hope only makes your arms feel emptier. Hope for the future is a reminder of the grief about what hasn’t happened—grief you wear like a tattoo. But while hope may or may not lead us to a different answer, we are promised that it leads us to cling to the steadfast character of God and receive the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit. Here, our arms are full of hope.

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Marriage and family therapist Nicole Zasowski works to help her clients experience joy and peace outside of their circumstances, but until recently, couldn’t say that she was living in that same freedom. But through a great season of transition, loss, and pain, Nicole discovered for herself what she knew to be true for her clients: that only empty hands are truly open to receiving transformative grace, and that the beauty of being lost lies in the joy of being found.

With a foreword from Elisabeth Hasselbeck, From Lost to Found: Giving Up What You Think You Want for What Will Set You Free (W Publishing, Thomas Nelson), invites readers to let go of the life they’ve envisioned in order to find themselves in the life they’re living. Nicole draws upon her personal story, professional expertise, and the lives of those in scripture to show how living life in partnership with God brings transformation, redemption, and connection, oftentimes in places and seasons they least expect.


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Nicole Zasowski
Nicole Zasowski is a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of "From Lost to Found: Giving Up What You Think You Want For What Will Set You Free." As an old soul who wears her heart proudly on her sleeve, she enjoys writing and speaking on topics that merge her professional knowledge and personal experience. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two young boys. Nicole would love to connect with you online: www.nicolezasowski.com.