Practicing Imperfect Hope

We live these daily lives in the constant tension of already and not yet:

Already a student, not yet graduation; already graduated, not yet employed, already engaged, not yet married; already pregnant, not yet a parent; already diagnosed, not yet healed; seeds already planted, but the fruit not ready to be plucked; Already the veil has been torn, but it is not yet lifted.

We live in these tensions, knowing that this specific moment matters, that everything matters,  but it is not this moment that we long for. Our broken hearts can’t help but long for the beauty, the finality, the forever, of a resurrected world. A world where Grace that we are already aware of can be felt in every part of our being. We long for days where the calendar doesn’t fill and fill again, where the end goal is not always changing, always moving further beyond our grasp. New heaven, new earth, and in the meantime we are here, in this neverending repetition of liminal space. The space between—the already here, not yet there.

In all of this waiting and hoping and looking forward, it’s difficult for us to say, “Okay, I’ll just wait,” “I am content in this moment.” Instead, we work to create shorter paths, clean up the winding, speed up the clock, and organize and reorganize every book in the house—maybe looking for inspiration —a word—a breath. Ultimately, we’re looking for a reminder that this waiting—it’s important, too. This waiting can be beautiful, can provide preparation, but can also provide rest and be beautiful in the uncontrolled creativity that may arise from its being.

Richard Rohr, in Jesus’ Plans for a New World, describes these moments not as annoyances, nor as a waiting room to be sloughed for the perfect future days. Instead, he says to let go of your attempt to control the not yet, for “When we do not need to control the future, we are in a very creative and liminal space where God is most free to act in our lives. Faith seems to be the attitude that Jesus most praises in people, maybe because it makes hope and love possible.”

Rohr’s connecting of faith and creativity to liminal spaces, challenges me—as a fixer, as a planner, as a teacher, as an enneagram 9—to stop and look at these moments. To try and consider the waiting a time of creativity and a time of faith—because I have to let go of what I can do and instead trust that all will be made new. It’s true. I can admit that without these spaces, we’d never have time to practice our imperfect hope, or try on our imperfect love—we’d never have moments to laugh, to cry, to experience the beauty still seen in this brokenness.

But friends, it’s hard to be in these spaces—we desire permanence, we desire love, we desire freedom from injustice and sadness, from guilt and despair—we long for beauty and truth and goodness unblemished by the very human proclivity to break things. And yet, these creative spaces—these faithful spaces—teach us how to cultivate hope and love.

These spaces are the places where we become our best selves, the selves which do not fit into our human understanding of perfect but grow to see the beautiful small hope-filled moments of each day as glimpses through that torn veil. These spaces allow us the training grounds to realize that these selves which are not our own, are fully loved and forgiven, these selves that are already loved but do not yet know how to embody that same love. Here, in this space between, we practice faith and hope and love, and even in our unrest, get a little closer to the Truth of the whole world, every day.

Rebecca Detrick
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