Choose to Hope When You Just Don't Know

My bag was packed for a weekend at the beach, but since I didn't bother to check the forecast I never thought to bring an umbrella for rain. The showers started on the drive over in heavy stop-and-go traffic that made me more carsick than the curvy bus ride to Lake Como in Italy. 

The weather reports called only for heavy thunderstorms but the wind gusts and intermittent downpours felt more like a tropical depression. 

I sat inside looking out at the rain pounding the beach and roiling up the normally calm gulf into waves with whitecaps. Despite the squally weather, there were still beachgoers in the water, ignoring the glowering skies. 

I guess they were determined not to let some gloomy weather rain out their vacation. 

And neither was I. 

Finding a 30-minute break in the storms, I set off for a walk down the beach, keeping an eye on the sky filled with dark swirling thunderclouds.

But what do you do when you are feeling the storms that are raining out your weekend are also storming across your soul?

These hopes, these wild and adventurous dreams, that somehow seemed so possible when dreamed in the hollow of your home, suddenly feel like shredded confetti swept up and blown away in a single wind gust.  

When words are spoken about them outside of the solitary sanctuary where they were birthed, you think what you just said sounds so impossible and intangible that you’re not even sure what you thought was so compelling about your ideas in the first place.

Somehow your dreams and hopes and passions sound small and insignificant, even to your own ears.

And suddenly, you feel the same way.

When I'm unguarded and insecure, unsure and exposed, I feel a little adrift. Confused and unsettled, I've suddenly lost my purpose and direction.

{I wonder if you've ever felt this way?}

So when I’m wondering what it is that I even want, I can only turn to the one who knows every part of my heart. 

God is the only one who holds that answer in his hands and can plant the truth about myself deep in the soil of my soul. 

Only he can make something out of nothing, bring long-dead dreams to life and can see who we can be and what we can do, when we can’t yet see it ourselves.
The God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. -Rom 4:17b

I shouldn’t be surprised at these waves of doubt and uncertainty poised to wash over the shores of my soul for I’ve been expecting them, after all. But their force has startled me. 

Even though it feels as if I’m in the dark without a nightlight, I remember that I’ve been following God forward all along and he has also purposed these very moments for my consideration of him. 

Even the windy, stormy days serve a purpose. He invites me and seems to say: 
Try me here, even in this turbulent place, and find me steady and faithful.

Somehow I think if I’m asking God to steer my life's direction, then I won’t have to wrestle with decisions about dreams or desires because he’ll make them clear to me. And although he may do that, in time, I think he’s asking for a response from me. 

Am I willing to yield them to the purifying process that sifts these motives and intentions and aspirations? 

If this is the way to know yet another side of the God that I don’t yet know — to experience in a new way, who he is to me — then I want to follow him through the drizzles, deluges and downpours. 

To clarify what he’s making me into, to purge what can interfere, and to illuminate the way forward. 

To recognize that this refining continues from one life experience to another, realizing that I’ll never arrive, but instead I am becoming.

The rain and stormy weather never let up during my entire weekend at the beach. I'm not even sure there was one hour of sunshine. 

But there was still joy to be had with rain soaked shoes, pleasure despite windblown hair, and relaxation regardless of shower-spotted outfits. And a borrowed umbrella kept the heaviest rain in check.

For I know this to be true: the sky will eventually lighten, the storms will pass, and the sun will shimmer again on calm waters. 

And so I'm choosing to hope.

In faith, I'm trusting that the view up ahead will become clear and the way forward will become a matter of the heart.

A little note on the photos: cathedral photos are from the Duomo in Milan, Italy and the art photos are from San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore in Milan.

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Click the image for more posts from my blogger friends!


  1. Even the wind and the waves obey Him... Mark 4:41...... and no matter how stormy it feels, He's still in the boat with you!!! What breathtaking art you got to see in Italy but just as beautiful is what God fills the earth with- the beaches and the storms. The sunsets and the sunrises. It's all good dear friend! I'm right here hanging onto hope with you!! ♥

    1. Heather,
      I LOVE it that you're hanging onto hope with me! And what a great reminder that you noted from Mark that God is in the boat with me -- beautiful! xo

  2. What a lovely post! It's so great that you set off on the beach in spite of the dark clouds. What a great metaphor for approaching life, no matter the forecast. I need a dose of that courage and determination. Miss you!

    1. Christy,
      Oh how I miss you! I hope the rain is not deluging you in Seattle these days! Thanks for visiting with me again -- only via blog this time instead of our Panera coffee dates! xo

  3. Leave it to Valerie to turn a storm into a wonderful trip! Sounds like a nice time! Pictures of Italy are BEAUTIFUL!

    1. Oh Brittany -- you so think the best of me - -what would I do without you?! xo

  4. Yes, Valerie, I sometimes also am "Confused and unsettled, I've suddenly lost my purpose and direction." I love how you talk about if we're willing to yield our dreams and desires to the purifying process. What faith it takes for us to surrender them to that! Praying God will show you further who you can be and what you can do!

    1. Trudy,
      I treasure your prayers, friend! Always love it when you share your encouragement with me!

  5. Ever becoming. I love it. So beautiful. Thank you.

    1. Jen,
      I think we all are . . .ever becoming . . .thank you for visiting! :)

  6. Valerie- This was so beautifully written- and I can relate to so much of it- Love the verse- so good- I also love this- "he has also purposed these very moments for my consideration of him." This is great to think on - to consider him in the mess and the rubble and the bits and pieces of dreams that seem surely dead- It's his specialty, I think, -bringing the dead to life, making things new- The best part is we see more of Him- and then awesome to realize that He is ours and we are his! Thanks for all these beautiful thoughts - hugs

    1. Susie,
      Yes! His specialty -- bringing things back to life -- I love that! I've seen it to be true in my own life and experiencing him is worth it all! xoxo

  7. A bad day at the beach is better than a good day at work. :)
    Glad you are clinging to God's hand in the midst of life's storms. There is no better place to be than with God!

  8. Thanks for this - it spoke to me in such a big way. You reminded me that God is always with me, not surprised by my life's circumstances, can understand things that I cannot understand, and that He knows me better than anyone. I needed this reminder tonight! xoxo - Shawna


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