Why Advent Hope Is Way Better than Junior Prom Hope

By Amanda Cleary Eastep

I REALLY wanted him to ask me to prom.

I waited. And waited. And. Waited.

Until one day, when it seemed all hope was lost, a nervous young man twitched his way over to my locker and sweated out an invitation to our junior prom.

Except it was the wrong young man. This wasn’t the guy I hoped would ask me, the one who flirted in study hall or called to talk about our shared love of cycling the country roads between our respective homes.

As we stood facing each other in the high school hallway, I’m pretty sure my wide eyes blinked N. O. in Morse Code. But the guy, actually a good friend of mine, just stood there twitchy smiling.

Then I got mad. How could you put me in a place of potentially hurting your feelings? I thought we were friends. Don’t you realize how much energy I have poured into agonizing over whether or not the Other Guy is going to ask me to prom? What kind of friend are you?

I had been counting down the days until junior prom. Since I was like 13. For years, I had been saving a gown my mom bought on clearance but never wore.

Prom was supposed to be AMAZING, especially since I had only been on two terrible blind dates thus far the past three years of high school. The Other Guy was supposed to ask me casually with a flip of his shaggy blonde hair. He was supposed to buy me a wrist corsage to match my magenta monstrosity of a  dress. We were supposed to go on a picnic the day after an evening of dry chicken kiev and slow dancing to Journey.

I blinked “no” one more time and said…

“Sure.”

flock

Ah, “hope is a thing with feathers” wrote Emily Dickinson. That ends up beak first in your car grille.

Hope is also what we contemplate this first week of Advent. I never paid much attention to Advent, except when I was a kid and opened a tiny door on the cardboard calendar each day as a countdown to Christmas.

While I am making light of the angst-y teenager kind of hope, junior prom is a lesson in how misplaced our hope, and even our waiting, can be.

Rather than placing our hope IN something, we hope FOR something, as if directing our wants and expectations at a target–a new car, a better job, a happy marriage–will result in our ultimate happiness. Even with more “noble” hopes–healing of a loved one, the safety of our children, peace in a troubled nation–we seem to passively await a supernatural favor from some apathetic deity.

Often, like a people who trust in idols they’ve carved with their own hands, we look to the false gods of possessions or passions or fellow fallible human beings.

But Romans 15:13 shows us a radically different kind of hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

This isn’t Dickinson’s little–albeit lovely–bird singing in the gale, but a force of God’s nature…a literal flood of hope from an unending source.

Yet, we aren’t passive recipients standing under a waterfall of blessing. Hope fills us as we “trust in him” and overflows “by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Hope is active, because it calls us to trust. Hope is unending, because God is eternal. And hope carries with it the things, that in the end, we ultimately all desire–joy and peace.

May this first week of Advent give you Someone to hope IN.

Junior Prom Epilogue… I ended up being a crappy junior prom date. My friend was kind and goofy and caring and probably just hoped for some good conversation and maybe a kiss on the cheek. But I spent most of the evening drowning my sorrows in about five liters of Coke at the “pop bar” and talking to the “bartender” who gave me his address at the boys’ home so I could write him a letter sometime.

On the drive home, I was sure my bladder was going to explode in my friend’s dad’s Oldsmobile. My hope of being asked to prom by the Other Guy was actually realized senior year. He spent the evening making out with another girl while I danced with his younger brother. Hope may be a thing with feathers, but karma’s got some big ass talons.

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Junior prom dress and (inset) Senior prom dress and a sideways look that says, That dress was SO 1983.

I’m LINKING UP with the #wholemama bloggers this week as we talk about “Waiting.” Read what these wonderful women have to say during this time of Advent waiting.

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17 thoughts on “Why Advent Hope Is Way Better than Junior Prom Hope

  1. Love! I love any post with old photos of junior prom, though 😉 But also loved this! Like others have said, the idea of the difference between hope IN and hoping FOR is really where this one shines. If we are always hoping FOR God’s gift, we’ll be disappointed, because it isn’t something to be found by looking for a target.

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    1. Hi Katie! There are definitely things we can hope “for” because of the Person we hope in, because he is faithful to give us peace and love and strength and wisdom. But, I think sometimes we put our hope and trust in the actual “thing”, no matter how inherently good it may be, instead of the giver and provider of it. (OK, now I’m getting way too philosophical…that’s like being drunk and running with scissors for me.)

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  2. I love that you distinguished between “hoping in” and “hoping for” it helps to sort out the disappointment that tags along with hoping FOR something and sets our feet more solidly in the rest that is hoping IN Someone.

    And I also love you elegantly long and swirly prom dresses. 🙂

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    1. It’s kind of cool how those “epiphanies” come to you as you’re writing, isn’t it? That’s one of the things I love about the process. Oh, that dress. I had strange taste for a teenager in the 80s. But then, it was the 80s…

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  3. “Hope is active, because it calls us to trust. Hope is unending, because God is eternal.” This is so true. Our hope is not just a wish that something might happen. Our hope is in God. I loved reading your prom stories. 🙂 Your writing is always so engaging. You are great at pointing out truths. Blessings to you! xo

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  4. This post rocked my world. LOVED it. ADORED it. Freelancing is agreeing with you. It brought me right back to high school, and I remember what that type of “hope” felt like. More often than not, my hopes were dashed and trampled on. Yes – so glad that God gives us hope that is (as the Bible puts it) “an anchor to our soul.” Love you my friend!

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    1. Same couch? Crazy. My mom collected antiques, and I only sat in that room for pictures or to practice the piano. The H.S. drama sucked, but looking back, I learned a lot and it makes for funny stories (tho not funny at the time).

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