I had someone at a cafe ask (challenge) me the other day, “Why does the world ‘need’ hope? Isn’t that a negative perspective?” I tilted my head, replied with heartfelt tales of hope and dabbled in a few hopeful examples from my own life. Still, as this blog grows, the question bears answering here.
Why need? Well, imagine a world of apathy, a world of numb souls who have given up, a world where no one thinks of the sunrise to come or the rainbow about to peek out from behind a cloud. Some of you may feel it’s that way already. I passionately resist that notion with every shred of my being. I am not alone in this belief, this knowledge of the power of hope and what it takes to choose hope over darkness. Needing something is not bad—we need air, we need love (deny it, if you wish) and we need water. Hope is fuel for the soul.
“The World Needs Hope” is not an indicting statement of the state of things, like a trite or linear solution to a perplexing problem. It is a testament to the awareness that we cannot thrive, dream or persevere without choosing to hope. If you live by three things, I pray they are faith, love and hope.
Want me to tell you a secret? I felt adrift recently. I held on to my hope but still felt like I wasn’t doing enough, inspiring enough or giving enough to others. It’s a funny thing, how we are programmed. At least in the culture I have known for 30+ years, you undermine your own needs, you work until you get blurry vision and you push yourself to succeed. So, when I found myself breathing without checking in, walking on a beach with zero idea what my next hour held and not tied to the electronic expectations pulsing through my email . . . I was, well, a little lost as to how to measure my worth.
I’m even hesitant to post the following photos because (as far as I’ve always been told), this isn’t work, especially working hard.
It’s as if we want to see others toiling, suffering and having a rough go of things in order to value their contributions. Where in the universe did that mixed up notion come from? Is it based on a feeling of commiseration, envy, judgment? For instance, studies have shown that people won’t value anything “free,” but you ask them to pay $1 and it suddenly jumps in value. Is our worth really tied to a financial tag? Is our output truly metered by the hours ticked away on a clock? I’m rebelling against this insanity.
Wisdom. Mercy. Empathy. Compassion. Grace. None of these have price tags, hours or metrics to analyze. They exist in their own sphere of value. Your life and its efforts should be the same. I’m waking up and I’m shaking you, friends. There is hope for more than the punch in, punch out pattern we’ve been taught.
Let’s applaud those who live. Let’s support the beauty in acts of humility. Let’s exchange a currency of hope.
I find that my clarity flows in when I volunteer. So, I went to the Waiheke Red Cross and explored their facility. It was dappled with all ages and all walks of life—all people of worth.
So, as I wandered the island. Yes, wandered. I met more amazing people. It’s funny how that keeps happening, when I smile, pay attention and live in the moment. I believe God puts them in my path, or vice versa, for a hopeful exchange.
Two delightful women in particular became my afternoon companions and, now, friends. Carol and Miriam (daughter and mother) were on vacation visiting wineries. I decided to see one myself, to take in the rolling hills and renowned New Zealand vines. Spiritually and physically beautiful . . .
“Was this a selfish indulgence?” I asked myself. The answer came to me as I stood arm to arm with charming Miriam. You see, this spunky, inspiring woman next to me was battling cancer. She shared her story and her boundless love of family. Figuratively, she kicked me into a state of appreciation and certainty. Hope is living not stagnating. Hope is choosing to keep fighting, to keep being true to yourself. I hope to see her and Carol again. They are now happily tucked into my prayers.
Hope is where the heart is. It is a choice. It can be an act. It is how we face (or embrace) every moment. It is the hand of a loved one at your bedside. It is a photo from your sister of your niece’s recent accomplishment. It is the sound of a toddler saying your name. It is a bus ride with new friends. It is seeing Aurora on a ship at the harbor and smiling to yourself. It is a big pink semi truck that makes you think of a big pink hat your best friend wore at a shop on the East Coast. It is letting your wishes wander to your dear soon-to-be-a-mom friend. It is being authentic to your needs and the needs of others. It is setting a righteous example. It is the joy you put in and, hopefully, the reward you take away.