Letters, Hope and Idolatry

I am a big proponent of the United States Postal Service. I love sending mail. Handwritten letters have gone so out of style that they are vintage, some would say. And I love them. Even stamps…it’s really quite nerdy, but I am truly okay with that.

There’s this one letter though that hasn’t been mailed. In fact it’s been stuck in a journal for five years. Unmailed, but addressed. I don’t even open it because it’s been sealed, prepared to be mailed to someone who wasn’t expecting it.

Some people say that writing it out, what you want to say or feel the need to say, but never mailing it helps to gain closure and move forward. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s the case this time. It was written at a time when I felt I had lost a close friend, that distance and feelings and prayer wouldn’t bring healing. I hadn’t thought about the letter in quite some time, as the person it was supposed to be sent to came back into my life a couple of years ago.

I felt myself in the same pathway again. The very same routine and the very same emotions come bubbling up. The conversations are different. The interactions are different, causing me to think things are different this time around. But then I catch a glimpse of the same old person, the person that doesn’t know exactly how much it hurt last time…that never got the letter because I couldn’t send it.

Why do we do that to ourselves?

We will convince ourselves, and our friends, that this one time it will be different. That we can get them to see us in a different light or that something has changed, that we are enough. The older I get, and especially in these five years since I wrote the letter, I am seeing that is not the case. I think we choose hope, because it’s a much better story than the alternative. Hope is always a better alternative…unless the hope is never affirmed. That it’s actually a hope of our own fashioning, whittled out of a comment or time spent over dinner.

Sometimes you have to get down the road again a bit before you realize that your hope has been misplaced. That you willingly gave it up to someone instead of giving it fully to God. While the letter may go unsent, God knows the words but He also sees the heart of the author and knows how much has been let go of, and what still remains to be relinquished.

It’s idolatry that we try to fashion into a banner of hope. It’s hope unfulfilled but never confessed as idol-making, because it’s a hope not in Christ but in someone. Someone who won’t see us as enough, and we can’t quite rectify that understanding in our thinking. We pursue after a hope in being enough, when we’ve been told by the Maker we are enough in Him.

So here I sit, with a letter and idolatrous hope, laying it down at the feet of the Redeemer, to take this thing and release it. To put it all down and turn towards the One who says I am  enough, because He is enough for me.

That hope is secure. That hope is good. That hope is more than enough. That hope is everlasting.

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