I find myself at one of those crossroads in life – a place where I must choose. Do I stay on the path I have been traveling down or risk everything in Hope of change? All the energy in my core says things have to change – I have to Hope that I can live the life I dream of. The voices in my head argue incessantly about who I will disappoint, what I might lose, what could go wrong. The truth is, I have decided what must happen, rather, my heart has decided and is slowly but deliberately informing the rest of me. The changes I need to make represent Hope. I hope for a better life, one where I am healthier, more satisfied in my surroundings, more inspired, liberated to pursue my passions, more “alive.” I know at a core level that things must change or I am doomed to stay on a path that is not life-giving to me.
All this has me pondering a little word with powerful consequences – Hope. What does it mean to Hope and does it really matter if we have it? Webster’s defines hope: “to desire with expectation of obtainment, to expect with confidence.” Different from wishing, hope’s got legs; it’s going somewhere; it has a plan; it EXPECTS to get there! There is a power to Hope that motivates and inspires. Hope is a VERB.
Turns out, Hope is a form of Goodness. It is an action that propels a person toward the thing they long for. It motivates. It moves. It strengthens. It brings about change. It can help you build a better internal nest. Hope is good for your heart. We need Hope because life is hard, the challenges are many, and without it we will grow stagnant and eventually become sick in our souls. Hope is the plan to get you out of the rut, not just the wish that you were out.
In 2011, Psychology Today published an article about the power of Hope. Here is an excerpt from that article by Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. “Hope is not just a feel-good emotion, but a dynamic cognitive motivational system.” “Talent, skill, ability—whatever you want to call it—will not get you there. Sure, it helps. But a wealth of psychological research over the past few decades shows loud and clear that it’s the psychological vehicles that really get you there. You can have the best engine in the world, but if you can’t be bothered to drive it, you won’t get anywhere.” Hope is the psychological vehicle Kaufman is talking about, and he goes on to say, “People with hope have both the will and the pathways and strategies necessary to achieve their goals.” There is power in believing – in hope with expectation. That power helps us develop real strategies to achieve our dreams.
All this is well and good, but let’s be honest – if you live long enough you will likely experience the rude reality that life can be completely unfair, grossly unkind, frequently frustrating, and at times unthinkably cruel. Life can be a Hope crusher. You have dreams and hopes and life disappoints again and again. My husband and I have been through a long patch like that where one thing after another has caused discouragement and crushed our Hope. What I am realizing is that in the midst of this hard season I let go of Hope and settled for wishing. Wishing is nice – but it can’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t inspire you for more than a moment. It’s all fairy dust, and I need traction!
I have had to look at my heart and realize that Hope = Goodness. My nest needs Hope because my heart needs permission to believe again. I have to let go of the fear of being disappointed and let myself shift gears. No more wishing – it’s time to Hope. It’s time to believe that things can change for the Good! Hope is the rope that can pull me out of the ditch I’m stuck in. I have to do the work, but Hope gives me something to hold on to.
Have you ever stopped Hoping? Have you become a “wisher” instead of a “Hope-er”? Take some time this week and consider these words. Think about where you honestly are, and where you want to be. Hope is your friend. It is Goodness for your soul. Come with me on the road less traveled – let’s give Hope a chance.
Hope is necessary to live life successfully. Are you a "Hope-er" or a "wisher"?