Dealing With Deferred Hope

If you’ve met me before, even briefly, it wouldn’t surprise you to know I was a precocious and rambunctious child. I was good at everything and everything was good with me.

The fire in my eyes was pure butane and the batteries in my back were Energizer Lithium. I was simply unstoppable.

So, it only follows that at the age of 17, after a long day of youthful exuberance, I looked at my Big Mummy and promised (more assuredly than prayerfully) “Ma, I will be a millionaire by 21”.

Full disclosure, I was in the UK at the time. So, the contextualised declaration was that I, OMOLOLA O. OLUKOGBON, was going to be a black, female, first-generation immigrant, a millionaire by 21, in British Pound Sterling.

In my defence, my desire came from a very good place – my parental network [insert it-takes-a-village-to-raise-a-child adage here] had been incredibly sacrificial in ensuring that my sisters and I had a good upbringing and education. The least I could do was hammer and hammer well.

By 21, I was in my final year at University, so I gave myself some time and mentally adjusted my vow from millionaire to getting a respectable high-paying graduate job.

By 24, three very cold British winters had crawled by, and I hadn’t gotten a job, the encouragement had slowly moved from “Don’t worry, your job is coming” to “If I were you, I’d enjoy this downtime, once you start working, you’ll miss it”. I was miserable.

Many people didn’t know that shortly after I graduated, I had actually gotten an offer from the company of the woman I wanted to mentor me. I had stalked, followed this woman’s career carefully, cultivated a professional relationship with her, and determined that she was living my life. This was it. My testimony was complete, and you know when God shows up, he shows OUT!

Needless to say, the offer fell through, and the relationship waned. I was distraught.

This event shook me to my core because:

  1. I had prayed SO EARNESTLY and fervently about it.
  2. My ticket out of shame and pity was gone!

At this time, the encouragement had soured into unkind whispers and unhelpful suggestions.

The fire in my eyes had dulled to a cool flame. My corroded batteries were stuck to my back.

It became incredibly difficult for me to be hopeful (even now, in many ways, it still is). I couldn’t push past the pain of the disappointment I had experienced. It took me a while to admit it, but God had disappointed me, and it left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

By 24 and a half, I had sown 3 seeds in my heart:

  1. Douse your ambition.
  2. Manage your expectations.
  3. DO NOT trust God with your deepest desires.

This was how I had chosen to grieve the loss of my hopes and dreams. They say the one bitten by a snake lives in fear of worms and I was determined to never even set my eyes on a string!

Solomon captures it well in Proverbs 13:12a; Hope deferred makes the heart sick. To me, the only reasonable solution to curing this sickness in my heart was to stop the hope altogether. If l don’t hope, my heart can’t be sick.

Culturally, we have been taught that disappointment is a meaningless interruption to our lives, and the good, moral, and/or saved are exempt from it. Although, I wouldn’t have said it like this. I believed it WHOLEHEARTEDLY.

When reality hit, I couldn’t reconcile my beliefs with my experience. I became cynical towards God. I didn’t trust God’s motives and concluded his holiness and my desires were mutually incompatible. 

I nursed these seedlings religiously and years later, they bore fruit.

  1. Dousing my ambition retarded my growth – in all aspects.
  2. Managing my expectations stole my gratitude towards God and zest for life.
  3. Not trusting God killed my prayer life and any desire to evangelize.

Looking back now, I wish I had known that although unpleasant, my disappointment could have produced perseverance, character, and hope because of the Holy Spirit in me. (Romans 5:3-5)

I wish I had known to take my pain and disappointment in God to God!  David did it! (every 3 market days, I might add).

“O Lord, how many are my foes!” (Psalm 3:1)

 “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalms 13:1)

 “My tears have been my food, day and night.” (Psalm 42:3)

 “Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever” (Psalm 44:23)

I wish I had recounted all the previous instances of God’s faithfulness in my life.

“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.”  (Psalms 3:5)

 “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalms 13:6)

 “These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.” (Psalms 42:4)

“Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.” (Psalms 44:26)

It was only when I began to trust in God’s unfailing love that I  started experiencing the healing I needed to hope and dream again!

It’s not an easy feat and it is still ongoing, but it is possible!

I don’t know if the millionaire status is still in my future, maybe it isn’t but I remind myself, each day that I have a good God who is invested in me and my hopes and dreams yet doesn’t define me by them!

This truth liberates me to dream and hope for different things. If I achieve them – great! If I don’t – it may be disappointing but I’m not less loved by the one who matters the most! I can go to him to heal and equip me with the strength to hope and dream again!

Lola [Olukogbon] writes because she can and writes for City Church because they’re family. Navigating her faith in the appropriate context without relegating it to a part of her whole has been her biggest discovery so far! She also writes at BUT if you’re interested in more off-the-cuff commentary, she’s on Twitter where all her tweets are uniquely inspired by Christianity, Carbs, and the City of Stresselence – Lagos.