When Hope Comes With An Ultimatum {Part 2}

by | Oct 8, 2013 | Uncategorized

I shared Part One of this story on my column Living the Story at BibleDude.net. Click here to catch up in case you missed it, then come back and join me in the comments to talk about how hope is linked to tenacity, perseverance, and trust. Did you know that?


“If we want to cultivate hopefulness, we have to be willing to be flexible and demonstrate perseverance. Not every goal will look and feel the same. Tolerance for disappointment, determination, and a belief in self are the heart of hope.”

~Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

People advise against it, but I didn’t have another choice.

I precariously carried buckets of hot water from my mother’s house, down icy steps, into the street where my car was parked and idling. Pouring steamy liquid over my Honda CRX, it was melting heavy layers of ice off my windshield. Determined, I didn’t want to miss the adventure of the next chapter in my life. Let a record-breaking Tulsa snowstorm and a power outage scare me off? Nah.

My previous peaceful leaning in prayer turned into a deep knowing in my chest. Hope rooted there overnight.

Saying goodbye to the past, I drove behind the red glare of taillights across the country to Phoenix. The hatch loaded with all my worldly possessions — clothes, shoes, and accessories — I followed my friend and her fiance’ to a place I hadn’t ever visited. Our overnight stop in Flagstaff, at the home of her fiance’s parents, provided a hint that I was blindsided by providence.

Over breakfast, they told me about a church they enjoyed in Phoenix. Our exchange was warm and endearing, parental when I felt achingly alone.  I took their advice and visited on my first Sunday as a permanent desert dweller.

I quickly discovered they were right. The sermon that morning? The pastor’s story of loading his car with all his worldly possessions and driving to Phoenix to fulfill his ministerial calling. I never visited another church.

However, I came close to turning around and going back to the Midwest.

That was when I gave God my second ultimatum.

If I don’t get a job soon, I’ll have no other choice but to turn back. If you want me to stay in Phoenix, then show me with a job offer by the end of the week.

Thankfully, Dillards needed to hire someone for their makeup counter that week. Over a period of months, I landed a job in marketing and advertising, proof that I didn’t need to depend on a college recruiter.

I met H at that church two years later, after his graduation from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. We were married less than a year after our first date.

I had a choice the day I sat on my couch and gave God my first ultimatum; after my circumstances weren’t working out with the second. I could’ve blamed my parents for choosing to give up on parenting, I could’ve given in to the decaying job market, chosen the limits of my bank account, let the fear of driving a thousand miles to a place I had never seen before stop me. I could’ve blamed my year of desperation on Oral Roberts selfishness.

Instead, I chose to believe in God’s faithfulness. Hope is the comfortable arm to lean on while perseverance and tenacity do their work.

Let Hope pull you into his arms and cradle you into the future. You might be surprised by providence.


 Join us in the comments and for further discussion at Redemptions Beauty Book Club on The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown as we let go of numbing, powerlessness and scarcity this week to cultivate a heart of resilience, gratitude, and joy. This is day 8 of 31 Days of Letting Go in the Deep End. Find out more here and join us for daily posts delivered to your inbox by adding your email address to Subscribe in the sidebar. It only takes a few seconds and it’s painless, I promise.

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  1. Elizabeth Stewart

    I loved reading about this time in your life. I’ve been praying a certain “bolder than I usually am” type prayer lately. I’m feeling hope-full.

    • Shelly Miller

      I love hearing that Elizabeth, I think you operate with a lot of courage already.

  2. Missindeedy

    You chose to believe – and for me, that was so powerful to read in black and white. Sometimes, it’s just a heart willingness to choose belief over uncertainty or anger or defeat. If I wisely will my heart to lean on that hope, it always seems to work out for a good I never could have imagined.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m glad to hear that, I always pray that my stories will resonate. I’m always grateful when they do.

  3. Deidra

    I surprised myself this morning, with the bold way I addressed God. I wondered if I should feel guilty about that. But already, I’ve read three things that have relieved that tendency to worry about my morning chat with God. This, of course, is one of them.

    • Shelly Miller

      I love it when God does that Deidra. Glad this played a part in a sacred echo for you.

  4. Jillie

    Hi Shelly….I’m ba-ack! It is wonderful to read this “chapter” in your life. I so related to your words, of another post perhaps, of how you did not receive love and support at home, so you made every effort to excel in perfectionism at school in order to receive affirmation. This described me as well. As far as hope, well, you know that I have tended to give up on dreams, jaded by life and its restrictions on me. Fear of the unknown has also held me back for the majority of my life.
    I heard a wonderful Canadian Pastor, just this past Sunday, speak of the way that Jesus never “asked” His Father for anything. He just simply “Gave Thanks”, in all circumstances. He always pointed to His Father’s greatness. “Asking” denotes pleading, begging. Rather, we should “give Thanks”, for we know our Father always does what is in our best interests. He may not answer in the way we deem necessary, but He will steer us in the right direction. Giving Thanks denotes trust and faith…that He WILL do for us. He WILL work ALL THINGS for our good. And so, I’ve begun to pray in this bolder fashion–taking emphasis off of what I want, praying for what He wants to do.
    I have also set ultimatums before God the Father, but seldom saw where He was moved by them. That’s because He’s much wiser than I. But I certainly understand the desperation for answers in uncertain circumstances. I admire your bravery and tenacity through the ice storm! It paid off for you. As far as Oral Roberts? I dare not even go there. 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      I was just reading something about how one of the most common regrets people communicate before they die is unfulfilled dreams due to fearful thinking about stepping out in risk. I hope you’ll harness the time you have left and do something you dream about Jillie. And you have given me food for thought about thankfulness and gratitude. That theme is in our chapter this week.

  5. Nancy Ruegg

    Shelly, your definition of hope resonated in my spirit–big time! Hope IS a multi-faceted action verb, involving resting in the arms of Jesus while at the same time persevering with tenacity. It also includes the joyful anticipation of the day when Providence surprises us! I loved your story of hope, perseverance, and Providence. Your path wasn’t smooth and easy, but God made a way–a spectacular way!

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, your comment makes me happy Nancy. Thanks for leaving your thoughts here.

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