I cannot even tell you which words by Jo Saxton I like the most. Is it hope having a tear-stained face? Is it hope having bloody fists? Because I know my hope has.
Or is it because I have learned that hope does fight for the hardest parts of my life. I know my hope has. My hope is not necessarily pretty.
My brave broken-hearted life has taught me that hope is not pretty and involves gutty vulnerable me. It is not this ethereal platitude which is popular everywhere.
What I’ve collected here is what I’ve learned about hope.
Some comes from life. Some comes from Dr. Brene’ Brown who has surprising scientific research about this. Some comes from wise others who I listen to.
Hope is not a feeling. It is a cognitive behavior sequence.
Optimism is you believe things in the world will turn out just fine, it just does. Optimists see the glass as half full. Hope asks how can I fill the glass full.
Hope is not a wish nor is it a prayer. I do hope in prayer but hope doesn’t offload this or easy button this to God. I still live in the holy tension of I don’t know what to expect.
Hope doesn’t guarantee me the expected outcome.
Hope involves me and my vulnerability. Again, I can’t offload this to God.
Hope doesn’t ignore fear, anxiety, and doubt; hope confronts fear, anxiety, and doubt. This is where the bloody fists come from. I walk with a limp too.
Hope is expressed not in certainty but in curiosity. It is my curiosity that keeps me leaning in to hope.
Hope is found in the small, everyday-ness of life. Not just the extraordinary or the exceptional. This could be (and time always varies such things) the feel of the sun on my face, the sound of the rain outside my window, the cool grass underneath my bare feet, or eating a whole bag of chips (such a treat for me!).
Hope is a function of struggle.
Hope leads to resiliency. “Hope has scraped knees, because it keeps crawling forward.” Those scraped knees are part of my beauty.
Curt Thompson says, “Hope that is durable is formed in the kiln of suffering.” That also means hope is formed.
Hope moves me forward.
Hope lightens my darkness. I have learned where God is in that darkness. Something I will never forget.
Hope increases my faith.
Hope is infectious.
St. Augustine described hope this way,
“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
Do you see how anger and courage are a part of hope?
Hence why hope has a vulnerable heart and bloodied fists. Why hope is sweaty and keeps crawling forward.
Without hope, I couldn’t involve my emotions to have the resiliency to keep on crawling. Hopelessness shuts off these emotions. Easy-buttoning to God protects me from these emotions.
Are you starting to see how hope involves you?
This is not the kind of hope that ignores current circumstances. This is not the kind of hope that goes around current circumstances. This is not the kind of hope that dismisses current circumstances.
This is the kind of hope that can come only in the midst of my circumstances. Hope does fight for the hardest parts of my life.
Hope is a future state where we expect good things to happen. For a simple example, we drive our cars hoping that everyone driving stays in their lane. This is a part of my cognitive behavior sequence.
This comes from Dr. Brene’ Brown and her research. Hope is a combination of: setting goals; having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue those goals; believing that worthiness is your birthright so something good is going to happen to you. Simply defined, hope is Plan B. I have the ability to make a Plan B and this is where my hope grows.
Plan A has crushed me at times. Things were supposed to go this one way but it didn’t happen. I can wallow (I have). I can be angry at God (I have). I can turn that anger outward on to many people (I have).
But when I can make the decision to make a Plan B I have found hope. I have felt my anger and I have found my courage to move me to believe that I am worthy of a different outcome.
Some of you struggle with your worthiness to understand the brave audacity of that statement. Pay attention to that. Keep growing.
Plan B has also crushed me but I have chosen to set goals, my tenacity gives me room to change and revise those goals because deep down I know I’m worthy of having something good happen to me.
I loved my Plan A. I loved my Plan B. I love my Plan M and am hoping. Curiosity has me engaged. I still have hope because I still believe in the larger story.
Hope without a realistic reason to believe then becomes a wish. Hoping that I or someone else will change, or that a situation will be different, will not make it a reality. There must be a real reason to believe and to try again.
Wishes keep you safe from disappointment too because you don’t have to be emotionally involved.
Beauty is uncomfortable. Vulnerability is uncomfortable. Hope having bloodied fists is uncomfortable.
But what a life this larger story is! A safe faith says, “I know you are omnipotent so I will feel helpless while I wait on you.” A brave faith says, “Here is my cry and here is my anger and here is how I feel. Thank you for blessing the godly.”
What a life this cognitive behavior sequence is! I hope my hope is infectious to you.
So infectious that you will sit in the holy tension of all of this.
Highlight that one sentence that captured you. Post it on your mirror. Put it on your lockscreen. Allow it to bloody up your faith for at least a week.
So what did you learn?
May you live slightly braver as I am also.