Hope is a job, not an amorphous entity that’s always beyond our eager grasp. This reality was underscored recently when I enrolled in the Family Healing Together course, “Recovering our Hope.”
I used to have a misconception about hope. I thought it was something that you went to church to pray to get, or something that people say when what they really mean is that hope is lost. “Well, there’s always hope,” people will say, and you know right then and there that the hope vessel is sunk.
No sir. Hope is a job that you get up every day for and go to work for. You learn how to have hope and once you do, you learn how to practice it, manage it, and adapt it to your own situation. Hold it, examine it, work with it.
What does it look like? Well, here’s an example. Maybe you are worried that your son or daughter will never, never, ever, be able to put the pieces of his or her life together, because some part of his or her recent behavior has caused you to doubt. Maybe it’s yet another missed appointment or not being able to get out of bed in the morning. Maybe it’s a lack of concrete achievements or crippling self-doubt. Maybe it’s all of that or something else.
So, you start by reframing – turning your own negative perceptions into something positive, because if you look closely, you will see that your relative is making choices and perhaps even moving forward in some crazy way that eludes you. You may realize that there is something you can offer them that helps them flourish. It comes from YOU.
You get down on your hands and knees and blow on the embers when the flicker of hope is dying. Maybe all it takes is a post-it note, or a rigorous mental exercise to focus on the positive and ignore the negatives. One thing I do is to keep returning to my read what my role models, people who also share a positive perspective, say.
Here’s one such positive perspective from the course, which is post-it note worthy:
“Suspend judgement and consider the possibility that even your most outlandish hopes can not only nourish you, but can also help you flourish.”