I’m a big fan of Spiderman and all the Spiderman movies. I love the action, the characters, the morals, and the dialogue. One part of the movies that has stuck with me recently is a line from the newest MJ: “expect disappointment, and you’ll never be disappointed.” It’s fitting and proper to her moody character.
And there is an enormous part of me that completely agrees with her sentiment.
A Lack of Hope
I believe what MJ is referring to is hope, or maybe the lack there of. There are many situations we encounter in life in which we find ourselves hoping for a certain outcome. That hoped for outcome can be anything from an offer of a job, the health of a sick loved-one, a passing grade on a test, or fill-in-the-blank with whatever it is that you are hoping for right now.
It is natural, even when we have surrendered something to God, to still hope for a certain outcome.
And yet, why do we sometimes not let ourselves actually hope for what we want? Why do we stifle the hope and lie by saying we will be equally fine with either outcome? Why do we constantly brace ourselves for the worst?
Why do we expect disappointment?
I think it’s because we’ve bought in to the lie that if we expect disappointment, and we are in turn disappointed, we think the disappointment won’t hurt as bad. We’ve started thinking like MJ: “expect disappointment, and you’ll never be disappointed.”
But where does hope fit in to this equation?
What Hope Is
Hope is a theological virtue. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that Hope is when we “place our trust in Christ’s promises and rely not on our own strength” (CCC 1817). Hope is obviously something important, something to strive for. I think we would all agree that we want to trust in Christ’s promises and rely not on our own strength.
We also really don’t want to get hurt. And we will go to great lengths to protect ourselves from hurt and disappointment, especially in the emotional realm.
I tend to not let myself actually hope for what I want and what I desire out of a fear of being more hurt when it doesn’t happen because I had gotten my hopes up.
But is being disappointed actually bad? Is it a bad thing to feel that pain and that hurt? Or have we just taught ourselves that our emotions are bad and something to shut down?
Maybe the truth is that our emotions are good—gifts from God—even when they can hurt. Maybe we are denying our heart’s their full capacity to feel and embrace the fullness of life in our attempt to avoid pain.
Our Hope is in SomeONE
At the end of the day, our hope ought not to ultimately be in someTHING, but in SomeONE. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. If our hope is completely in Jesus, then no matter what outcomes may happen within our certain circumstances, we cannot truly be brought to despair. We might be disappointed, and that might hurt, but Jesus remains, and we can trust that He has a better plan than what we envisioned. We hoped, and we hurt, but we can continue to hope in Jesus no matter what happens.
To me, that’s better than not hoping and still hurting.
The book of Isaiah tells us:
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. // Isaiah 40:31
If we are able to hope in Jesus, when we are pleased in the outcome and when we are disappointed in the outcome, we will renew our strength. We will fly and run and walk, even in the middle of disappointment.
I’m really bad at this. I don’t think any of us are perfect. But my challenge is this: next time you find yourself wanting something good but are scared to lean in to it because of the fear of getting hurt or being disappointed, hope anyway.
When you think it can’t happen, hope anyway. When you are scared to death of disappointment, hope anyway. When everything turns out right, hope anyway. When everything seems to go wrong, hope anyway.
Your hope was never in a thing at all, anyway.
Gracie Muraski is a missionary in the beautiful mountains of Colorado with her husband. She enjoys writing, building authentic relationships, going on runs, and anything involving pasta.