Let's jump in to the deep end right away: Hope is open ended.
What I mean is, I used to think hope was for a particular thing. Liiiiiike . . . a hot and godly boyfriend who could sing country and be sensitive yet be so totally manly - to marry. When it took so long for that hope to happen, my heart got a little bit sick trying to hold on so tight to that one very specific hope and dream and wish.
I think it’s good to have wishes and dreams, but I don’t know that pinning our hopes on specific outcomes is best for us. I think it causes us to be blind to a lot of goodness in our lives. We become discouraged and then start having crazy thoughts and feelings that turn into beliefs about who we are and what is true.
Right now it’s COVID like crazy. So many people are getting sick. We’re tired of being in our homes and having rules change, especially when they don’t make sense to us.
If my hope was “I hope for COVID to be over” - I think my heart would be sick because it JUST KEEPS ON DRAGGING ON!
What if we open-ended our hope and instead of having it PINNED on an outcome, we just . . . literally opened up and trusted and looked for the good?
What if hope is the UNDER-PINNING? (I looked it up to make sure I wasn’t just messing with words to sound cute. “Underpinning” means: the process of strengthening the foundation of an existing building or other structure).
I think that’s what hope needs to be. Our underpinning. Our strong foundation.
I think that when we do that, hope will never make us sick - it will only grow us into people who can go through hard times without becoming hardened ourselves.
I was picking up towels in my bathroom this week and it made me think about hope and worry. There’s a quote from Jesus that says worry can choke out seeds of life and hope.
I love having a clean house. It feels good and full of possibility . . . but it never stays that way. It always heads towards chaos and unless I am consistently cleaning, constantly being involved and picking things up. It is so much work.
I think hope is like that. It’s really important, and there might actually be some people who are predisposed to constantly hope. But truthfully, I think hope is work.
Hope is weeding out thoughts that choke. It’s picking up towels that make the floor uneven and messy and impossible to navigate. It’s getting in the corners where that vegetable soup spilled and seems to be the source of some mysterious stink. Hope is paying attention to the thoughts that are worrisome and negative and fueled by fear or lack of sleep.
I also think worry can be open ended. Growing. Accumulating. Becoming heavier and stinkier. But the tricky thing about worry is that it masquerades as a friend. It says things like “you have to worry about the things you care about.” But worry just makes fear grow and takes up space. It NEVER provides answers, only more terrible possibilities.
Think about it. When did worry EVER do anything HELPFUL for you? I’ve learned to talk to my worries like a dog owner who comes back home to find their dog is chewing up some furniture: “You stop that right now.. NO!” There’s no negotiating or evaluating. It’s like - this stops NOW. I don’t tolerate this.
As people who have a bazillion thoughts a day, it takes realizing that we are worrying in order to stop worrying. Your thoughts aren’t always as obvious as dogs devouring furniture.
What do you do to deal with your worries and fears that come to choke out your hope?
My work is breathing in my rocking chair with my eyes closed, listening to my thoughts and acknowledging them and then thanking them for what they are showing me about me. It’s a little practice I’ve developed because pretending I don’t have fears and bad feelings just doesn’t work. I also take walks. This week it’s not checking Global BC News online every day.
Showers are wonderful because my phone can’t follow me in there. A nap. I took one. Writing in my journal. Processing some of my worries.
There is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS HOPE. There is ALWAYS good and help and beauty to be found. ALWAYS. But if we are tired, or laser focused on a particular outcome, distracted, or worried, we might not be able to find it.
I can’t wait for COVID to be over, but my hope isn’t focused on it. My goals aren’t depending on it. I’ve had to stop thinking of this as a time where the things that I want are being delayed and instead, it is what it is so what can I do?
Here we are. What are you worrying about? Do you know? If you are overwhelmed by worries, it’s ok to let them go (even if your worries claim to be helping you). Let hope but the foundation you stand on instead of the idea you are wanting in the future. Then hope can truly be open ended and full of unlimited possibilities.
PS. I promised a joke . . . Did you know that sheep are easy to trick? Yeah. You just have to pull the wool over their eyes!!
Ok. But your kids won’t get that one. How about . . .
Q: What’s worse than raining cats and dogs?
A: Hailing taxis!