Hope is the strangest thing. And at the same time, it is so familiar to us all. How can something be so strange and so familiar?
Hope is officially defined as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had; or that events will turn out for the best”. I have to be honest, that leaves me feeling kind of dull. And rather uninspired… I think that is a perfectly adequate description of nothing more than “wishful thinking”… the kind of feeling that you would expect in a Peter Pan story. I personally cannot imagine that hope is only that!
Hope is one of those concepts that underpins our entire existence, which is why I describe it as familiar. I believe it is part of what makes us human, and a big part of what enables us to rise up and conquer! And yet I am convinced that we are tapping only a fraction of its potential within us. If we can find out how to develop and nurture hope, I believe we can each be unstoppable in pursuing our goals.
Hope is NOT wishful thinking. It is not conjouring up a nice idea and believing it. That is make-believe, and it is for children. It is also not blind faith or a refusal to face facts. There is something so real, and deep about hope. It encompasses all of the potential negatives, owns them and accepts them, but the passion for a positive outcome remains undiminished.
It is not self belief or “self” confidence. To box hope into a package as small as me or as you would be an insult. For me, hope is a pervasive thing, bigger than an individual, It is catchy, it can be passed on and multiplied; it can be ignited and fanned to a wildfire.
My own definition of hope? For me, hope is the “burning fire of possibility”. It warms us and excites us, it keeps the cold of despair out, and gives us reason to soldier on, rising up on weary legs when the finish line is too far away to consider. It is the engine, the thunder of capacity against the headwind of circumstance.
2 analogies might bring some clarity:
Hope for me is like the keel of a yacht. It is the thing that provides stability in a crosswind, that enables the yacht to tack against the winds and stay on course without capsizing. A person with hope is directional, motivated and sure of the investment being made. Nothing is certain, but the moments all have purpose!
The second analogy is when I fly. The feeling I get every single time on take-off reminds me of hope. A deep tremble of power that is directional and more powerful than anything. Something that carries me forward relentlessly through shuddering and trembling take-off It is the capacity to overcome inertia, gravity, resistance, everything, and discover flight.
I do not believe that hope is a quaint concept or a satin-like feel-good. Hope is power, an internal resource that can sustain us, empower us, connect us and focus us when everything tells us to stop trying.
And we can dig for it within our own souls, find it deep in our own makeup, and draw on it. We can encourage ourselves, motivate ourselves, from a well of hope. For some the source of hope is spiritual. But not everyone draws sustenance from the same well. Some will find it in their chosen purpose, their raison d’etre. Some in their own personal mixture of dreams, plans and capacity to do. Some in the support and love of a family.
We can also nurture it. It is easily attacked, easily buffeted. Only a sincere commitment to protecting and nurturing hope will see it grow into an unstoppable force within us. We have all seen and heard of hopelessness situations and hopeless people. With all the compassion in the world for those who are facing insurmountable odds, and cannot see the way through, I want to encourage us all to nurture hope so that we never face those odds or those situations, without a deep reserve of hope.
Hope is fragile until it is not; there is no other way to put it. We need to become adept at shielding hope from the buffeting of criticism, of naysayers, of bad advice and our own insecurities. Hope is often allowed to be a victim of circumstances because we fail to realise its value and power, and neglect the discipline of nurturing it when headwinds are encountered.
Hope must be nurtured in times of abundance, to be available to us in times of need.