What Gives You Hope?

Lake Huron

by Keith Yancy

What gives you hope?

Stop and think about that question for a moment.  It’s an interesting question that I came across while reading Regina Brett’s book, titled Be The Miracle.  In it, she lists a variety of personal observations that give her hope.

But the question itself is worth considering — after all, it’s different from “what gives you happiness,” or “what gives you satisfaction.”  “Hope” is different — rather than the immediate “what makes you happy,” hope is more about what you look forward to or expect in the future.

So, what gives you hope?  Hope for the future?  The world?  Humanity?  Have you stopped lately to ask yourself what, beyond the typical fill-in-the-blank type reactions, you hope for?  Do you have the courage to think deeply about hope?

I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of hoping for the typical litany of outcomes our culture feeds us.  We hope for success at work.  We hope our families are safe.  We hope for good weather, good service at the local restaurant, good traffic on our commute, an enduring marriage.  We hope our sports teams win, our tax refunds are larger, our boss is nicer.

Perhaps it’s easy and safe to hope for the immediate, the easy, the next step on your path to wherever you’re going in life.  And in a hyper-publicized world, hope can sometimes seem to be easily pummeled into despair by the barrage of negative news which constantly preoccupies our country and our world.  Wars.  Ebola.  Environmental disasters.  The decline of values in our society.  Civil unrest, terrorism, scandals, corruption, partisan politics — too often, these are the main ingredients of the media diet we’re fed.  How can hope survive?  Our culture often seems fixated on its own decay and decline — how can something like hope not seem trite or naive?

With so much negativity, so much to worry about, so much to fear, its pretty easy to keep our hopes focused on the “little things.”  But aren’t there opportunities to hope for something greater?  Something beyond ourselves, or the definitions of success/happiness/achievement that we’ve bought into?

I think so.

When I think of the question “What gives me hope?”, I find myself searching for deeper answers.  Yes, I hope for all the normal stuff — a raise at work, fewer meetings, Granny Smith apples in the cafeteria — but I’m trying to aim higher.  I’m trying to change my opinion of “hope” from a naive, simplistic emotion to the powerful, profound emotion it can and should be.  Hope is more than endurance of life’s disappointments and steadiness in the face of defeat — the things we hope for should help define who we are, what we stand for, what our ultimate goals are for our lives.  Our hopes should inspire us to think more deeply, feel more profoundly, act more purposefully.

Here are some things that give me hope:

  • The glowing red sunrise above me on my drive to work, reminding me that there is always, always beauty in the world — no matter what problems I may face.
  • The knowledge that I (and everyone else) is more than just the sum total of their jobs, their looks or their possessions — everyone has value.
  • The kindness and understanding of my wife, because it reminds me that compassion for others still exists in the world.
  • Watching my daughters growing up with moral values, strong opinions, and dreams of the future.  Today’s kids are no worse, or better, than any other generation.  I believe in the idealism of youth.
  • The knowledge that our present-day challenges are not that different from the challenges of generations past.  If we can overcome slavery, the Black Plague and a host of other problems, humanity can overcome the problems that face us today.
  • The comfortingly predictable and glorious change of seasons, marked by the leaves of Autumn, the chill of Winter, the blooms of Spring, and the glory of Summer.
  • Watching and recognizing that people can and do change.  Not always, and not always permanently, but people DO have the capacity to overcome their prejudices, to fight for what’s good in the world, to become better people.
  • That an African-American can be President, that women are breaking traditional barriers in sports/business/government, that people of different faiths can respect, understand and support each other without hatred, that those who have can and do try to help those who have nothing.
  • The brilliant blue of Lake Huron, if only because of the awe it’s beauty inspires inside me.
  • The enjoyment of art, music and literature.  May they always be an escape from the everyday and give us a glimpse of the sublime.
  • The persistent, calming belief that there is, in fact, an existence beyond death and this world we live in.  That belief is sometimes a tenuous one, but it’s a lifeline of faith that remains unbroken for me.
  • The recognition that the vast majority of people, I believe, are decent, honest, and good… and as such, are rarely if ever mentioned in what we call “news.”
  • That there is purpose and meaning in our lives beyond our understanding, and that, because the human mind has limits, there will always be a need for faith.  What people choose to have faith in is their choice.
  • Loyalty, courage, integrity, faith, morality, perseverance, compassion, empathy.  In other words, the best elements of our nature.  As long as these traits exist among us, there remains hope for the present and the future — and for us.

What gives you hope?  Feel free to share your thoughts with me.  I’m sure my list can be improved.

Until next time… 🙂


2 comments so far

  1. Paulette on

    Keith Your summary pretty much sums up what also gives me hope. Thank’s for putting words to my thoughts.

  2. Carolyn on

    Thanks Keith, I have had this sitting in my inbox sadly unread. Today I was thinking of you after seeing Christine’s name on FT so went back to read your post. I have always enjoyed the posts and I think I like to have something to look forward to so was saving your post. Also, I have been distracted by being out of our home most of last year while it was repaired from the Christchurch earthquakes 2010-2011. The word hope has been popping up over the last 2 days. I had forgotten about hope so a belated thank you and back at you. Thinking of you and praying for you. Blessings, Carolyn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: