This last week somebody wrote me, “I’m trying really hard to have hope, but I’m sad and feel like I could get depressed.”
The life of hope is for the faint of heart.
I can say this, because I have certainly passed the test for heart-faintness more times than you can imagine. In fact, there have been times in my life where I was completely hopeless, certain that the days ahead would never get better, and in fact, would only contain more of the same pain that I was sick and tired of bearing.
If somebody would’ve told me—however sincerely—during those dark days, “to just hang onto hope” I believe I would’ve found something heavy to throw in their general direction. It’s a bit like telling someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one to “just get over it.” It’s rude and psychologically unhealthy.
I want to be so careful not to glibly throw around my pleas for hope. I needed to (and have spent a lot of years!) figure out what having hope meant for me–I couldn’t have anyone else tell me what it should mean. Naturally, I want to extend the same grace to you.
I want to give you permission to hope on your own terms.
For some, this might sound like esoteric gobbly-gook, perhaps a bit like telling someone lost in the woods to simply find their own way out. “When you can’t find a trail, make your own path,” they say. But to the exhausted, dry-throated traveler longing for a drink of water, this self-help advice can sound cold and callous.
My intention is to offer you never-ending grace for your journey into hope.
Having hope might mean just getting out of bed today.
Having hope might mean taking a short walk around the block.
Having hope might mean holding your tongue when a negative word is spoken in your direction.
Having hope might mean a wordless prayer of gratitude directed to a deity you can’t figure out.
I can tell you what hope means to me, but only you can decide what it means to you. This is your invitation to give it a try.
I don’t want hope to be a panacea over all that you’re experiencing. Having hope is not about pushing down how you actually feel. It’s not about pretending that everything is going to be okay. It’s not about forcing a smile when you feel your world is crumbling.
Hope acknowledges and receives all the feelings, and at the same time, is aware that some feelings don’t need to be held onto.
Hope reminds me that I’m not alone in the midst of whatever I’m experiencing—that a story is being written that I’m not completely privy to. And that ultimately, it’s a really good story—a story of rescue fueled by an incomprehensible love.
Be graceful with yourself. Hope on your own terms.
Grace to you, wherever you are
Whatever you are carrying
Whatever has been placed upon you
Whatever you can’t let go of
You are welcome here.
We are all sharing in a common story
A story of joy and pain
Of bravery and courage
This is a story of a beaten-down people
Choosing to get back up again and again
And again and again
Because we hope!
Making It Practical
How have your expectations about what “having hope” should feel like kept you from exploring hope on your own terms?
Can you have hope without ignoring the reality of your circumstances?
What is one small way you can live out your hope today?
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Hope On Your Own Terms