"And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love." - Paul the Apostle
"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." - Desmond Tutu
I was just thinking about hope today and how it plays a role in our everyday lives. It seems to me that hope often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves and gets pushed to the back of the crowd. In this very famous bible quote hope isn’t really in the spotlight but at least it makes it into the top three!
Maybe since it doesn’t feel as immediate we think of it more as a “soft” idea. Pleasing, good natured, save-the-world sort of thinking that isn’t relevant to the challenges facing me right now. Or maybe it is more akin to a wish or a low-probability event so there really shouldn’t be too much time invested in it. Perhaps some would go so far as to say that hope is for suckers. Some have even said that hope is the main cause of human suffering.
Whatever your thinking may be on morality, metaphysics, or even the ultimate disposition of the soul, I suggest that there are significant, pragmatic reasons to have and foster hope.
Hope creates the space for possibilities. Before you can know something is possible, there must first be the unfounded idea that it could be. Hope provides that initial seeding ground for new ideas, creative endeavors, and most everything that has a start within us. It happens so frequently that we don’t really notice it, but the first flicker that leads to a feeling, then an idea, and then to an effort is coming from hope. It may be easier to see the important role hope plays in this regard when it is missing from the equation. If you think about a person that has no hope you’ve probably seen how their world view is one of being trapped by circumstance with no paths leading to the future at all. The word “can’t” crops up quite a bit in that hopeless mentality. When depression sets in, it is often hope that is the first victim. Hope provides the fertile ground for the seeds of possibility.
The second important reason to check on the fuel in your hope-tank is that hope provides much of the energy we need to accomplish important or difficult tasks. Think about some of the more challenging things you’ve done or faced in your life. I think you’ll see that hope was playing an important role in injecting more energy into getting you through it. Even a vague hope that the outcome will be better than where your started can keep the fires lit and the wheels moving long after your body and mind were ready to throw in the towel. Again, looking at a counter-examples can be helpful. A team with no hope of winning the award often looks like they have very little enthusiasm and their stamina falls off quickly. Good coaches know that building hope is a key to great teams. Hope fuels our most heroic efforts and can sustain us after other sources fail.
So take some time this week to peek under the hood and see what hopes you have. See how they integrate into the things you do every day. Once you know how to identify your hopes you can take some time to grow and encourage them consciously.
Hope may not get the limelight as often as faith or love these days but if you grow your hope capacity you will add a huge amount of energy to your life and open the door to many possibilities!