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HOPE NOTE #1: Why does hope even matter?

Welcome to the HOPE NOTES.

I remember the day that hope became a big deal to me.

I was upstairs in our townhouse, hiding from my kids in my bathroom, reading a book about thoughts.

All my life, I’ve struggled with too many thoughts in my head, most of them negative and discouraging.

I’d wake up to this in my head: “It’s too early. You won’t make it. It’s too much.” And that’s just while I was waking up.

The rest of the day, all day, every hard thing that happened, every mistake I made, problem I had, question I tried to answer, everything was covered in a blanket of discouragement: You should be a better cook, you’re not very good at shopping, look you ran out of ingredients, your kids will never get what they need from you because you’re too tired, the house is too messy, you should homeschool, that’s not healthy food, you should have figured out your kids had autism a long time ago because then you wouldn’t be in this mess, you should put your kids in school, you picked the wrong therapy for the boys . . . . Blah blah blah. On and on.

It’s like I lived in a shower of non-stop discouraging thoughts.

And that day, as I read about discouragement, and fear, I realized, “Discouragement never tells me the truth! It’s never helpful or gets me anywhere I want.” I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, “discouragement is a LIAR!”

So I wrote “Discouragement is a liar” on a piece of paper, and stuck it to my bathroom mirror.

If discouragement is like a path toward a cliff of doom and destruction (nothing good ever happens when discouragement makes predictions), then HOPE is like the mysterious path to somewhere good, maybe a garden growing in the sweetness of sunshine and gentle rains. I don’t know. You never know. You just have to follow it to find out.

Instead of following (or being bullied around) discouragement, that day I decided to choose HOPE.

Hope. A belief that there are good possibilities and positive outcomes.

Discouragement. A belief that there are only negative possibilities and bad outcomes.

Hope is pretty close to trust. It’s like a belief that there is good . . . somewhere. Like the “look for the helpers” mindset every time there is a tragedy. It’s not always obvious, but it’s ALWAYS there.

Learning to believe in and look for hope has been the best thing for my head and my heart.

It wasn’t an easy switch, going from discouragement to hope. It was a journey with work.. But it was easier than I expected. But more about that another day.

For now, how goes the mind? Are you discouraged and bogged down? Are there a thousand thoughts or one OVER and OVER?

Hard times come. Mistakes are made. Regrets are real. But HOPE can always be found, if we are willing to look for it. My hope for you this week is for you to hear your discouraging thoughts, and call them what they are: liars.

I ran across a translated comic of the Spanish Cartoonist, José María Nieto.

One character says to the other: "I don't see any reason to be optimistic. What do you think the new year will bring us?"

"I believe it will bring flowers."

"Really? Why?"

"Because I am planting flowers."

Hope is like that. It’s patient. It’s not intimidated by the facts of the moment. Hope knows that there is good to look forward to, even if I gotta plant those dang flowers myself!

Yes, COVID is still here. Autism is here. The FACTS remain . . . and I’m tired. But the facts are not nearly the whole story.

Where are the glints of goodness in your life? Find them. See them. Squeeze them. Focus on them. And those little flowers will grow.

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