This month the words “hope, waiting and anticipation” are included in our theme. As we finish December and look towards January there are inevitably places where hope has been disappointed during the past year and where you may feel like you are sitting in an alleyway unsure of where to turn or what’s coming next. The following is an excerpt from Jan Meyer’s book, The Allure of Hope.
Envision an exquisite five-star restaurant. You walk through the door and are gently jolted with the lull of conversation, the warmth of candlelight and luminous nooks, the mingled smells of several fine dishes. The room is festive and relaxing. The maître d’ ushers you to your table, causing you to feel not only welcomed but even expected and desired. You feel the tension drain away as you prepare to enjoy the company at your table and the meal you anticipate as you scan the list of possibilities.
Looking up from your menu for a moment, you glance toward the kitchen and catch the eye of the chef, a kind-looking man. He acknowledges your gaze with a warm smile and a look that, in your restful state, says to you, “I am preparing something wonderful just for you. Wait. You’ll love it. I’m doing this for you.” You feel a twinge of embarrassment, but it is quickly engulfed in the sheer delight of thinking that something is being prepared with you in mind.
You love this place. Life feels right for a moment, and you take it all in. How could he have known what you love? You wait and converse and laugh and drink and wait. And then it arrives—the spectacular dish. All are served, and with gratitude you savor your first bite. Heaven. Perfection. How did he do this? You continue to imbibe and laugh, and time slips away….
Suddenly, a tap on your shoulder. Startled, you turn to see the maître d’ standing behind you with a grim look on his face. “I’m sorry, but I have to ask you to leave.” You are certain there is an emergency and you request the details, but none are given, “No, I simply must ask you to leave. Please come with me.” His voice is commanding and direct. You are stunned and embarrassed but feel compelled to follow, at least to see what this interruption is about. The maître d’ ushers you past tables of glowing faces and candles, then through the kitchen, where you look for the chef but see only busboys. You are taken out the back door into the frigid night air, down the cement steps and into the alley behind the restaurant. Furious and confused, you demand an explanation, but all that is given in reply is the turn of the deadbolt lock.
You are stunned. You are alone. Trashcans, oily puddles, and the steam from a sewer vent make up your new surroundings. Welcome to the alleyway.
The most natural thing for us to do when we have been jolted into the alleyway by life is to think, This is where my hope is lost. My sweet dream has been snatched away, and hope has been snatched away with it. Hope begins when the memory of what was becomes a longing for what is to be restored.
This is the place where contemplating a posture of openness and childlike dreaming seems utterly ridiculous. This is where the journey of the heart can easily be indicted as foolish. And indeed, it is foolish—a foolishness that leads to life. It is the kind of outlandish living that Paul spoke of when he said we are fools for Christ’s sake (1 Corinthians 4:10).
The question for us as women is, can we have eyes to see the redemptive purposes in the alleyway? Can we trust that God has not forgotten us and that in fact He has intentions for us in the alleyway that go beyond our wildest imaginings? He wants our hearts. And it is in the alleyway that He can get our attention long enough to prove it.
Jan Meyers Proett has been a counselor for over twenty years and is the author of The Allure of Hope, Listening to Love, and Beauty and the Bitch: Grace for the Worst in Me. She has worked on behalf of exploited women internationally, but also loves the trails of Colorado, where she lives with her husband, Steve. Follow Jan at her Facebook author page, and her blog.