Life is tough. We get surprised by loss, we make terrible mistakes, we feel blindsided by expectations – both our own and other peoples’. We get consumed by the chaos of life. It’s a common experience to lose hope. From the most devastating wounds to the smallest disappointments, we often find ourselves slipping into mild depression, entertaining the thought ‘I hate my life’. Every person on the planet can relate to this experience - sometimes on a daily basis! Whether it’s the death of loved one, the distance in a relationship, thwarted personal health or fitness goals or something as simple as a missed expectation – we struggle.
And in the midst of the struggle, we seek relief. So we lie to ourselves. We pretend. We numb out. We say ‘It’s ok’. We decide it’s easier to not hope at all than it is to hope again and risk hurt and loss. These strategies are short-lived. Slowly, the reality of living in a state of disappointment turns to resignation. Resignation is the act of ‘re-signing’ the responsibility for our lives over to something or someone else. When we refuse to live responsibly, hope becomes elusive. Then we find ourselves powerless to affect change in the most critical areas of our lives. Despair sets in.
Yet resignation and despair are hard work to maintain. We simply cannot numb ourselves indefinitely. Hope works its way out. As human beings we live with the longing to have their hope restored. It’s remarkable really. Even in the worst cases of violence, loss or abuse, there is something in the human spirit that is designed to rise up, to go again, to believe in the face of doubt and fear. Even when we all know, at some level, that the next disappointment is likely to be just around the corner.
So what does it mean to have our hope restored? The etymology of the word ‘restore’ is to re-story - to change the story. The common meaning is to replace, return, bring back, recover, heal or make restitution. Restoring hope is an intentional act. It’s a willingness to surrender to the reality of both our frailty and our strength. We fall, yes, and we rise. We have the ability, at any moment, to rewrite the story and allow beauty to be released from our chaos.
It's in our DNA
Instead of thinking about it as a permanent condition, consider it as a day by day, even moment by moment possibility – a choice. What seems lost can be restored. Perhaps because it was never truly gone. It was just covered up temporarily by fear or sadness or anger or resignation. If hope is in our DNA, our design, then restoring it is a matter of be present with what is authentic for us. Underneath everything else, it lives.
Perhaps Emily Dickinson said
'Hope' is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
Let is rise.
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By Jean-Marie Jobs