Hope- What is it?


In some ways I feel that my life (personal and professional) revolves around conversations about hope.  Although it might appear to some to be a powerful word, others may not necessarily see the value in "hope". 

A couple years ago I was having conversation with a staff member from Congress regarding a long drawn out international adoption journey that our family and many others around world are on.  Without getting into too much detail, this 1.5 year journey to bring our kids home does not currently have an end in sight. In this particular conversation we were discussing the "worst case scenario" that many families are now having to entertaining.  All I could think was, of course people are starting to lose sight of the hope. We are hopeless.  This a terrible place to be.   The loss of hope causes people to say and do things that are out of the norm, irrational, and desperate.  After getting off this call I walked into a home decor store and saw a sign with the quote:

“We all hope. It's what keeps us alive.”

- DAVID MAMET, Speed-the-Plow

YES!!! I thought, and my initial reaction was that I needed this sign for my office wall!!  Then I looked at the price, and left without it :-)

I saw another quote when I began researching what others had said about hope:

“Extreme hopes are born of extreme misery.”

- BERTRAND RUSSELL, Unpopular Essays

Yes!  Exactly.  

What is it that steals our hope? Ahhh now that is complex, sometimes is it is heavy, big, life changing events, and sometimes its the perpetual ache and pain of life.

Breakup. Losing a Job. Loneliness. Family dynamics. Rape. Cancer. Isolation. A move. Bad grades. Loss. Grief. Divorce. Bullying. Financial worries. Abuse. Betrayal. Feeling kicked when you are already down. Oh my how the list goes on, and on….

Now I can readily admit that I might have a knee jerk reaction to someone feeling "hopeless."  Extreme misery I can handle…hopelessness, is a little different.  After years of working in the crisis and suicide world, this has become a trigger word for me. Hopeless has significantly more meaning to me that most other words in the English language.  When I hear hopeless it is as if sirens go off in my head and I go straight to crisis mode.  I might jump right into asking you if you are thinking of suicide, self harm, or killing yourself (sorry friends, occupational hazard!).  

But, it’s because often times when people reach a place of hopelessness they don't see that things will ever change.  Walls begin to close in on you and you don't see the future, the care of others, self-worth, jobs, family, friends, hobbies, the value in the present, the value in tomorrow, the value in today.  In his book The Voice of the Heart, Chipp Dodd takes the value of hope so far that he proposes:

"Hope is the heart's passion for life.  It is the inextinguishable flame that illuminates our hunger for relationship.  Hope is the voice that calls us to look to, to believe, and to trust.  To risk hoping brings faith"

What a beautiful depiction of hope this is.  It is risky to hope, but yet we do it every day.  Why do singers audition for reality TV?  Hope.  Why do we enter a raffle or play the lottery?  Hope.  Why do you bring a baseball as a spectator to a game?  Hope.  We may or may not actively think that we are hoping during these times, but they are a big element of so many things we do. Without hope we don’t have passion, we don’t take risks, we would live an uninspiring, faithless life.  

Want to know what you are passionate about?  Then look at what you are hoping for.  Adopted children to come home?  Your children to be safe and successful in life? A long and fulfilling marriage? A Promotion? A non-profit to succeed?  A Candidate to win a race? 

Life necessitates hope.  It not only keeps us passionate, it keeps us alive.

What do you hope for?

-Mary Ann

If you are feeling hopeless, and in crisis, please call 1800.273.TALK 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.