Have you ever wanted something so badly that your entire soul yearned and ached for it? The very thought of it preoccupies your mind and the feeling it creates takes you away to a special place in your dreams. The radiance of its light shines brighter than the noon day sun. You believe you would be complete if only you had it. But when you think about not having it, your nights are lonely and endless. You yearn to have the empty feelings inside of you numbed if only for a moment. You want to fall asleep to escape the unbearable pain that overtakes you during these dark, quiet nights of the soul. You scream to heaven for God to hear your cries and help you find relief from these overwhelming feelings to get what you want.
Have you ever had everything and lost it? Have you received the greatest gift God could have blessed you with only to watch it slip through your hands like sands through an hour glass? You are wracked with heart-wrenching torment as you finally admit to that you are responsible for losing your most prized treasure. This is your private hell. No one stole it. You had it. You lost it. You will do anything to get it back.
Either way, you need hope. Hope is one of the most powerful words in any language. It’s a word that describes the feeling deep in your heart for something you’ve never had before. Or, it’s the powerful feeling that fuels your search for something you lost and you have to get it back. Without it, you believe you’re missing something that could complete the circuit of your connection to fulfillment.
Hope is defined as a noun as, “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; a particular instance of this feeling; a person or thing in which expectations are centered.” Hope is defined as a verb as, “To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to feel that something desired may happen.”
However you define hope, one thing is for certain: the worst human condition of is hopelessness. Without hope there is a hole in your heart and an emptiness nothing can fill. You can’t breathe. You’re anxious. You ruminate. There are over seven billion souls on the earth today. We are unique as our own individual fingerprints. The one thing that unites us in the human race is the need for hope. Life is hard, full of pain, and suffering. With hope we feel that anything is possible. Without it, we believe nothing is possible.
Patricia A. Dunavold of California State University, Northridge writes in an article entitled, “Happiness, Hope, and Optimism,” There are several common themes in all the definitions of hope. Hope usually involves some uncertainty of an outcome, typically concerns matters of importance, and usually reflects a person’s moral values. Hope is frequently considered a temporary condition that is specific to a given situation and contingent upon one’s skills or abilities.
Where does your hope come from? Dunavold adds:
“Actually hope appears to be a primarily learned concept. In a series of studies done by James Averill, he and his colleagues came to the conclusion that hope includes learned behaviors and thought processes that are acquired through the socialization process. This was demonstrated in a study of the implicit theories of hope as reflected in 108 metaphors, maxims, and proverbs related to hope that are common in many cultures. These findings support the theory that hope is a culturally determined concept and is implicitly acquired by children during the language acquisition process. Additionally there is a strong religious component to hope. Many Christian religions are built on hope and models of hope are implicitly taught in religious teachings.
Is there a cognitive component to hope? There is but only in the restoration and maintenance of hope—not in the actual acquisition of hope. Many studies have shown that cognitive strategies such as positive self-talk, reading uplifting books, envisioning hopeful images, listening to uplifting music, and lightheartedness, humor and laughter, are used by hopeful persons when suffering some “crisis” or adverse life event.
Hope also seems to be a powerful motivator. C.R. Snyder, a University of Kansas psychologist, posed the following hypothetical situation to college students: “Although you set your goal of getting a B in a class, after your first exam, which accounts for 30% of your grade, you find you only scored a D. It is now one week later. What do you do?” Snyder found that hope made all the difference. Students with high levels of hope said they would work harder and thought of a wider range of things they could do to improve their final grade. Students with moderate levels of hope—thought of several ways to improve their grade, but had far less determination to pursue them. Students with low levels of hope gave up attempting to improve their grade, completely demoralized.”
Hope always looks forward to the future and never backwards. The research tells us that with high levels of hope we can be and do more than we can right now. The power of hope is a seed inside of you. It can be nourished to grow, blossom, and bear delicious fruits.
What robs you of hope? What steals your personal power? Why do so many people around us quietly admit that they are indeed hopeless. I believe there are two main enemies of hope: perfection and comparison. They might be twin brothers.
Perfection says that you MUST be flawless. Anything less is unacceptable. If you are not perfect then you are broken, inadequate, and unworthy. You don’t deserve what the universe is trying to give you. You can’t receive. Somewhere in your life you began believing that when you make mistakes or commit sin, you have no right to God’s highest blessings. I call bullshit on that belief. I’m not here to give permission because you don’t need it. You don’t need to be perfect. You are in fact “perfectly imperfect!” Rejoice, celebrate, and stop beating yourself up for every wicked, brainless, stupid, careless thing you did or didn’t do in your past. Guilt says that you have made a mistake; shame says that you are a mistake. Forgive yourself and be free from the prison of the past. Let it all go to have hope. Be content that you are “perfectly imperfect” and that is fine. Stop crucifying yourself. Didn’t someone else do that for you?
The other enemy of hope is comparison. It says that someone else is better than you are. “They” are better-looking, smarter, healthier, wealthier, and wiser than you. Who are “they” anyway? I have never met them. “They” do not exist in the real world. Only in your head. When you continually compare yourself to someone else, hope is assassinated. Don’t be fooled by what you see on television or read on Facebook. Everyone on the planet is going through their stuff. No one is exempt. Celebrities, millionaires, athletes, actors, your neighbor, and your friends on social media are all fighting their own battles. The greatest battles you will ever fight are the ones between your own ears. One side is the “doubter” who sabotages everything you do. The other side is the “hoper” that believes anything is possible. Stop beating yourself up by comparing yourself to anyone else. You probably wouldn’t want their problems if you knew what they really are anyway. Be grateful to just BE you. We are not human doers, we are human beings. Stop competing with others. Pause and just BE in the moment. Your moment.
Build a huge wall around your heart and mind and do not allow the enemies of hope to invade. They will destroy everything. The seeds of hope are deep within you. They need light, fuel, oxygen, and time to grow. Hope can’t be sold and it can’t be bought.