Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

Thoughts on Hope

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Hope is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – at all…   — Emily Dickinson

Hope. Even hearing the word brings to mind comforting thoughts of relief, satisfaction, serenity. Hope is something encouraging and enduring, filling bleak spaces with strength beyond fear, triumph over crises, and light amid darkness. The presence of hope can be the difference between joy and depression, persistence and giving up, success and failure – even life and death.

Hoping for something is not the same as wishing for it, as the things we wish for are usually more illusive. When we wish for something, there’s often regret over or denial of an unfortunate reality, like wishing you could sing as well as your favorite rock star, or wishing you’d studied math instead of history in college. Hoping, on the other hand, generally refers to more realistic things in the present or future, so there’s no sadness over past things that cannot be changed.

The dictionary defines hope as “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” However, be careful about this, because if hope comes with strong expectation, it can actually be destructive. When we don’t acknowledge that hope for something is not a guarantee of its being realized, we set ourselves up for pain and disillusion. For example, we hope our children will be healthy…we hope our finances will be stable…we hope our love relationships will last forever. But what if our children become ill, or we are laid off at work, or our marriage fails? Our hopes instantly transform into disappointment, often leading to bitterness. Reeling from the impact of these crushing emotions, we’re prime targets for the opposite of hope – despair.

Wearing us down and clouding our perspective, despair holds us back from moving toward the happier places of acceptance and gratitude. When we despair, it’s impossible for us to see the gifts that actually come from not getting what we hoped for!

If you’ve ever experienced your hopes “crumble,” chances are you have learned to be careful about allowing yourself to hope. Perhaps you’ve found that making outside, external things or situations the center of your hopes is not worth the anguish of being let down. But that doesn’t mean that you should give up on hope altogether. Doing that would make you hopeless!

Consider this: a new way to hope. Focus your hopes on yourself instead of on things, people, and situations around you. You were born with the light of hope inside you. The truth is…it has never left. Maybe it’s been buried under mounds of sorrow about things you hoped for that didn’t come true. No matter what or whom you’ve lost – no matter what fact, crisis, or circumstance you think has stolen your hope, you only think you’re out of hope. You aren’t. There is an abundant, infinite source of hope that you can see if you’re willing to look for it. This is the unfailing force giving you the power to keep walking forward when all the chips are down, the ability to enjoy a hug from a friend or the smell of a rose during troubled times, and the strength to see future possibilities ahead instead of looking backward at the things you wish had been different. What you focus on grows in strength. Focus on the hope within – the hope for your potential to grow through anything and everything “life” hands you. In the strangest of ironies, the most painful things in our life can actually help us practice the most profoundly healing application of hope. What an awesome opportunity!

Remember that hope looks forward, and regret looks behind. To look ahead or back is your choice. Yours, and yours alone.

Where Does Love Go?

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Ah, love. Sweet, pure, healing, spiritual…we can’t see it with our eyes, we can’t touch it with our fingertips, and yet it is unquestionably there. It stirs somewhere between my head and chest when I see a fellow human suffering – hold my baby in my arms for the very first time – watch the figure of my lover walking toward me smiling – behold a problem solved or pain erased without my effort.

Such a beautiful and real thing is love. Probably its most wondrous quality is that it usually is focused on another person or object, seeking to bless the other as much as it does me. Thus, love is a gift that spreads outward and can transform both the giver and recipient. Precious and seemingly so fragile, but able to withstand and endure great strain, great sacrifice.

Sadly though, the gift of love – the source of which can only be God – can cause great pain. We give our love to the wrong person, who spits it back because they can’t or won’t embrace it. It seems to disappear into a bottomless pit, fruitless and unreturned. The daughter who rejects my love because she is lost on her own journey. The friends who can’t appreciate it because they’ve never truly recognized it in themselves. Those people who accept my love, but cannot reciprocate because of their slavery to other forces like drugs or money or sex. Tragically, we have all had our love declined at times.

Having my feelings be rejected is traumatic, certainly. Depending on the intensity of affection I’ve given or tried to give, having it refused or misused is capable of rendering knife-like damage to my emotions. Unreturned love is not a new phenomenon to me, yet on every occasion it occurs, the pain feels as fresh and keen as if I were a baby being slapped or hollered at for the first time. Sometimes the agony feels so overwhelming, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to love again.

But I know also that to love or not is my choice.

After each debacle in this regard, the same question comes into my mind: what happens to the love I feel – so intensely sometimes, it almost is palpable – that is rejected, unrequited, spurned? Does it simply die like unpicked fruit withering on a vine? Or does it live on somewhere in my soul’s deep recesses, out of view and out of thought? Does it drift upward, back to God, who created it in first place? Where does all this “wasted” love go? Is there some emotional stock-pile where it’s “archived” for posterity? Or is it deposited into a spiritual landfill of sorts, where it’s layered over with denial, anger, and fear, until it can’t be seen or touched without some in-depth digging? The question comes to me, back and back and back.

Obviously, this is one of those questions with no answer… Or perhaps everyone’s answer is different. For me, I like to believe that no love is ever wasted. Every time I love someone or something, regardless of what happens or does not happen as a result of that love, I am changed in a positive way. My emotional range is widened; my soul expanded by this miraculously selfless feeling. I become a more understanding and compassionate person. To know love is, to me, getting a glimpse of God. And if I am hurt as a result of that love, God sends His grace to soften the blow, as well as another big portion of love to keep for myself this time. Because at that point, I need it to heal my own wounds.

This is why, no matter how many times I’ve “loved and lost,” I’ll not shut down my heart, nor close myself off from loving again. It’s always worth it, whatever the cost or consequence. In fact, for me it’s a necessity to stay alive as a whole human being. I know that ultimately, any love I can feel – even if it doesn’t come back to me from a person – has somehow made me better, made me just a little bit more of a reflection of its Source.