The Legacy in Hope Deferred

This past Sunday I woke up to four joyful visitors at my bedside. With beaming faces my husband and kids offered a tray brimming with scrambled eggs, toast, and orange juice while eager hands pushed Mothers’ Day cards and projects in eager expressions of love. This was the day! It had finally come—the time to show Mommy all the treasures we have kept under wraps all these weeks. I happily read cards and admired school projects made with loving hands. I felt treasured, loved, and appreciated. But then came the big reveal—a gift my daughters had been working on for some time. 


My girls know that I want to get a dog. They know I’ve wanted a dog for a long time, though the time has not been right for our family, and so they have seen me wait patiently, and sometimes longingly and tearfully, for the time to be right. They know that last year on Fathers’ Day our family adopted a kitten, our family’s first four-legged pet, and so I had proposed that Mothers’ Day would be a great day to adopt a puppy. And I think they know that this very moment is probably still not quite the right time. So they took matters into their own hands.


They made me Daisy.


A motley puppy pulled together with fabric bits and string, hair clips and wooden scraps—my girls fashioned a puppy out of old kitchen towels, newspaper, and an infinite measure of love. 


I looked at Daisy and my heart literally didn’t know what to do. I was spellbound, humbled, grateful, and proud. My girls couldn’t go to the Humane Society and pick out a puppy for me, so they did what was within their power to make my dream a reality. They made her a collar with a nameplate on it because they know I dream of having a Great Dane named Daisy. This Daisy is perhaps one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. 


I’ve been pondering Daisy for a couple days now. Each time I go into my bedroom and see her tail poking up in the air in a ready-to-pounce puppy pose I realize that she means so much more to me than simply a sweet gesture from my girls recognizing my desire for a dog. She is a symbol for me of hope deferred. And more than that, she is a reminder of the responsibility I have as a mother to show my kids how to handle deferred hopes as a matter of course in life.


If it were up to me, we would have a dog by now, no question. But it’s not always up to me. Isn’t that just the way of it? And I realize that what I do with my disappointment, what I do with my waiting time, what I do when I don’t get what I want when I want it—all of those things will teach my kids what they ought to do when life tells them to wait. How often am I telling them they won’t always get what they want just because they want it? This is my chance to let them see if I follow my own counsel and wait with patience, and gratitude. I think my kids would like a dog too, but I find myself weighing my words carefully when the conversation takes on the edge of complaining or griping. Yes, we want a puppy, but God knows when the time is right, and if we ask He will prepare us with the patience and grace to wait without grumbling. 


Daisy is a reminder to me to weigh my words and check that a I adopt an attitude of thanksgiving, not discontent. Proverbs 13:12 tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” I don’t claim to really know what that means. It’s easy for me to think yeah, I can relate to that. Sometimes this waiting game makes my heart feel sick and weary. But I kind of think there’s a whole lot more to hoping than the temporal desires of the heart. Because so often when scripture speaks of hope, it is a hope in the Lord that cannot be swayed by mere circumstance: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5). Paul says we have hope stored up for us in heaven (Colossians 1:5) and that we strive in our faith “because we have put our hope in the living God” (1 Timothy 4:10). We can understand hope in many contexts, but as I think of hope, and hope deferred, what often comes into focus for me is not so much what I ultimately hope for, but what I do with the waiting that matters. As I live in this moment of not having what I hope for, the example I provide for my kids matters far more than my delayed gratification. What legacy am I leaving when it comes to desires unmet? Will I walk in grace even as my heart aches within me? Will I model the humble patience I so often encourage in them?


I did get a puppy this Mothers’ Day. Her name is Daisy. One thing that makes her special is that even as her presence symbolizes a hope long deferred, she also renews hope within me that my desires will be met in some form or fashion as the Lord sees fit. I am grateful for the gift.