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Kathryn has been looking for a new job for as long as I’ve known her. While we’re both grateful for the flexibility and security of her current position, there are a few aspects of the job that are not ideal.

With each new opportunity she finds and pursues, I find myself immediately buying into the new dream of what life would be like for her in this role. I see her work ethic, intelligence, and technical skills, and believe that she is often very near to perfect for the job.  I get excited when she applies for what seem like great matches for her skills because I take joy in her happiness.

And yet, like many job seekers out there, nothing has panned out for her yet. With the passing of each unfulfilled opportunity, she feels defeated, and that rubs off on me too.

I strive to cultivate hope in my life. In dark moments, when despair draws near, knowing how to cultivate hope – to actively search for, cherish, and nurture those aspects of life that fill me with meaning – is a lifeline.

But these days, we find ourselves often saying “Let’s not get our hopes too high.”

Sometimes, when we’ve been disappointed in a certain area of life, it can feel too risky to hope. Instead, we may choose the protective shield of apparent apathy, pretending we are indifferent to the outcome of the situation. But this does not actually eliminate our experience of disappointment.  It only invalidates the anticipation, nervousness and yes, hope, that we feel as we take a risky step towards something new.  And worse, we may not put our best effort forward, believing we are likely to fail at the goal anyways.

Whenever I express anxiety about a situation to Kathryn, she often responds with, “what makes sense about being worried?”  We use this as a cue to remind ourselves to validate our fears, our past disappointments and to name the importance of the outcome.  For example, if I worry about making a fool of myself at a friend’s party, asking this question can help me realize I am nervous because social relationships are important to me, and I find value in connecting and celebrating with others.  Naming this importance enables me to move past my anxiety and enter the situation with confidence that my friends value me regardless of whether I may or may not be socially awkward at times.

In reflecting on new employment possibilities for Kathryn, I find myself asking, “what makes sense about not wanting to ‘get our hopes too high?'”  It’s important for us to recognize that there are likely many qualified candidates applying for the same position, and the current job market is extremely competitive.  It’s true she may not be hired for the job.  She may not even get a call for an interview.  And we will be disappointed.  We may feel defeated.

And that’s okay.

Because we also seek to cultivate trust.  I am often reminded of a few lines from Max Ehrmann’s poem, “Desiderata,” that read,

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees or the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Disappointments are always going to be a part of our lives.  Feigning apathy in place of anxiety will not change this.  Validating the importance of risk, and accepting disappointments with trust is the only way to replace defeat with new hope.

We move towards grace.

At times the progress is sufferingly slow.  Yet, even in our most painful moments, we stumble forward.

When I came out over two years ago, my world was different than it is today.  The changes in my life (and the lives of those around me) are part of a greater process. We both influence and are influenced by this process.

When I came out, my dad struggled to accept what he called “a life-changing choice.”  He was hurt and angry.  In our first conversation about my orientation, I came to see the root of fear in homophobia.

When my wife came out to her extended family, it sparked conflict that, while the foundations have existed for decades, suddenly centred on her orientation and her choice to share the love she and I had found together with her relatives.

When my dear friend came out, his family believed reparative therapy (or ex-gay ministry) was the only choice he had.

Today, I look at the picture of my father walking me down the aisle to marry my bride, I see the look of sheer joy and pride in his eyes, and I am filled with gratitude for the grace in our lives.

Today, I hopefully anticipate the first family gathering Kathryn and I will attend together, knowing many of her extended relatives feel as broken by the family conflict as we do.

Today, I celebrate as Exodus International, the largest ex-gay ministry in North America, announces its closure and the head of the organization issues a heart-felt apology to those who have been hurt by its existence.

If you don’t already know, being gay is not a choice.  The only choice we have is how we live our lives.  We choose to live towards grace.

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