Get Your Hopes Up

I wrote this a month ago and never hit publish. It seemed too personal. I worried it would come off like I was full of myself. But then I read it again today, in the midst of feeling overwhelmed and afraid of the future, and I was convicted by my own words. I need to stop letting the fear of unknown endings pool around my heart. So this is me, wringing out the fear, remembering the faithfulness of the Author who wrote these early chapters of our lives, who weaves beauty and meaning in every sentence of character development, who has already written my tomorrows.

I remember it was dark, as dark at least as Santa Clarita skies can be, long after the shift change between sun and streetlights. We sat looking up and then out over the canyon, staring off into the distance like we might see our future if we squinted. I had a ring, and he had a plan. And even though I believed in him at twenty times the going rate, I still wondered. I wondered what would become of us when we chased a dream so clearly out of our league, when we never caught it--or worse, when we did--when the dream looked us in the face, threw its unattainable head back, and laughed. "You? You really thought? Oh that's adorable, really. But come on, look at me! And look at you...."

The plan back then was to move to Oregon, where we'd work to pay off our college loans. He would manage a small business for a friend's father, and I might substitute teach, maybe freelance for the paper. And in his spare time, he'd volunteer at the hospital, take a few classes to bolster his GPA, and then, maybe--just maybe--he would be accepted to P.A. school.

That was the dream I feared was too big for us.


Last night I watched him walk to the front of the room. I listened while they talked about his time as a resident physician. I beamed as they read a glowing note from a patient. And within moments, he sat again next to me, slid the certificate under his chair, a tired smile curling across his face.

Thousands of people become doctors, graduate from residency, go on to fellowship or straight into practice. It's not that special, in and of itself. But when you're the guy everyone assumed wouldn't even go to college, when you're the guy who took lump after lump and never once a handout, when you're the guy who was written off as unremarkable before being given a chance to prove otherwise, when you're that guy, it is a big deal. A very big deal.

I met his eyes and saw the canyon-gazing dreamer fifteen years his junior. It's practically impossible, everyone had warned. Don't get your hopes up.

I swallowed hard, crinkled my eyebrows together to block the tears, trying not to be the sap that cries about everything. I squeezed his hand.

It feels like the end of a beautiful story, I thought.
It feels like the beginning of one, too.


And this is what I want to say--to my children and to yours, to my friends and their daughters and sons, to our nieces and nephews and everyone we love who is tempted to gaze out into the canyon and wish something impossible. Get your hopes up. Lift them as high as they'll go.

Sure, it hurts when they tumble back down. (And they will. Many times.) But make it a habit to stretch and reach and try, until the falling and failing become not nearly as scary as the not trying. Yes, I know this is not the safe way. I know this is the painful way, the hard way, the scary way. But it is the best way. So go on. Get your hopes up. Lift them as high as they'll go.

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