Good morning, friends! It’s the season of Thanksgiving here in our neck of the woods, and it is reminding me of all the many things I have to be thankful for today (and every day). Of all the blessings and treasures that I have been given, I am most grateful for the individuals who have instilled a sense of HOPE in my life over the years.
HOPE is not something that everyone is just dripping with. It’s kind of like confidence, that way. Some have a lot, some have a little, some have zero. You can’t buy HOPE and wrap it up in a pretty box with a beautiful bow on top and give it away. You must speak HOPE directly into people’s lives. You have to pour it into their empty cups and really give a piece of yourself when instilling that sense of HOPE in another person.
/hōp/ – to cherish a desire with anticipation, to expect with confidence, to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment
archaic: trust, reliance.
These are the “verb” definitions of HOPE, straight from Merriam. But, what about HOPE as a noun? What is HOPE? It’s more than a four letter word, that’s for certain. Here are a few words that help to describe HOPE (as a noun) a little better:
H – Help, Hand Up
Creating a spirit of HOPE in another person is the greatest gift you can give them. It’s giving them a hand up, not a handout. It’s helping them out, instead of pretending not to see them. One of the greatest tragedies of the human existence is the ability that we have to completely overlook human suffering and just keep walking. HOPE isn’t fixing someone’s problem; it’s giving them the tools to do it themselves paired with the encouragement needed to do it well.
O – Opportunity, Optimistic, Options
You can’t give hope with a bad attitude. It’s like eating an ice cream cone with a frown… Producing HOPE in another person requires an optimistic mentality, the recognition of opportunities, and reminding people that they always have options. In some cases, it’s helping them to see that the best option is keeping on, keeping on.
P – Prayer, Positivity, Purpose
A loss of hope breeds thoughts of purposelessness. It’s feeling that the world doesn’t need a YOU, that your very existence is irrelevant, that your life doesn’t matter. If you’ve never felt this way, get on your knees and thank God, and if you have, then wrap your arms around yourself and hug it out for a minute. YOU MATTER. You were divinely created for a very specific reason, and your existence is one that can never be copied or outdone. Your life is valuable, and you were made on purpose.
E – Empower, Encourage, Engage
Step 1: Engage. You can’t produce or share HOPE if you don’t engage with those who need it. (Well, how else will you know if they need it if you only engage with perfectly aesthetic and flaw-free people?? oh, yeah, those don’t exist… carry on.) You must engage with people. Then, you encourage them. You pour in simple the truths they are lacking, and you empower them. Be their cheerleader. Remind them of their worth and their value.
HOPE is one of the shorter words in the dictionary, but of all our human needs, it is one of the most relevant. You can’t exist without hope. HOPE gives people the motivation to:
- Keep trying when they want to give up.
- Continuing doing life when it feels unbearable.
- Survive the most horrific circumstances.
- Get out of bed when they don’t have a reason.
HOPE is that reason. HOPE tells a person:
- Hey, your very existence is precious.
- You matter. Your life is important, and you are on purpose.
- You are worthy of the time it takes to sit here and restore your sense of value.
(Hope)fully, now you can see why HOPE is so important. It’s what keeps people here when they have no idea why they exist, or maybe when they no longer want to exist. HOPE tells them that there is more than this, that it gets better, and that they are on purpose.
In closing, I want to share a few moments of HOPE being restored in my life and in the lives of others.
2009 – I was a finishing up Highschool, had no idea what I would do with my life, accepted that I had absolutely zero positive traits or talents, and was falling into a pit of hopelessness. To make a long story short, I was giving up. I had absolutely no concept of being worthy, powerful, purposeful, or anything of those sorts. I was also very private about these feelings, so everyone around me was left none the wiser believing that the beauty queen cheerleading captain with a boyfriend, options for colleges, more friends than necessary, and a really bright future was doing just fine. In the middle of all these things, I could not see any of it. My hope cup was empty, and that bright future didn’t seem out of reach, it seemed non-existent. Things turned around for me when my friend group changed and someone realized what was happening. Within a few months, I had been told I was worthy, important, created on purpose, valuable, necessary and that I mattered. I had heard these things before, but this time, someone was speaking these truths with so much passion and intention. They were forcing me to believe these things as though they were the only truths that mattered. My hope was restored.
2011 – This was the year that Feeding the 5000 was born. Most people believe that we just hand out bowls and spoons to little kids who live in impoverished neighborhoods. FALSE. We go into communities where the kids have no hope. We stand in front of hundreds of kids at a time spreading the message of HOPE. We tell these kids that they are worthy, that they matter, that there are people all over North America specifically praying for them and that we traveled a very long way just to be able to give them a hug and learn their name. Then, we tell their parents to step up. We remind them that part of their job as a parent is to empower their children and that the only way to break the generational cycle of poverty is by having hope and making change happen. We set the tone and change the idea that it can’t get better. So yes, we give them a bowl and a spoon (2 luxury items for these kids), but before we hand it over, we fill it with HOPE.
2014 – My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, and at no point did she give up her place in the family to be our rock and our strength. There were good days, and there were the kind of days you have when you are fighting harder than ever and the cancer is still killing you slowly. On these days, she gave us HOPE. She never stopped fighting. Even though she was given the chance to see Heaven before all of us, she didn’t lose her fight. She left this world full of hope, and that very sense of hope is what keeps us fighting when it’s hard to exist without her.
2017 – A few friends and I served breakfast for homeless adults and families in the community. (First off, don’t think this is a pat on the back point I’m making. You aren’t a good person just because you do a good thing.) Anyways, while we were serving, I was able to see the shift in about 75 adults who’s hope was barely there. My role that morning was to serve the veggies, and I was stationed at the beginning of the line. This meant, I was able to see their face as they walked up to the line, and almost every single time, it was a look of shame or guilt, and most commonly that look when a person’s sense of dignity is being stolen or challenged. Within a matter of seconds, that dignity was solidified when our team burst out into a cheerful Good morning Sir! What can I get for you? and a sweet Good morning, Beautiful, how can I serve you? Treating other humans like they are humans is the simplest way to give hope. It’s reminding them that their very existence is relevant, and this is what helps people to survive even the most challenging circumstances.
While you are enjoying your turkey dinner this Thanksgiving, take the opportunities to give hope. When you focus a little less on your bubble and look into others’, you will find that you encounter multiple opportunities every single day to make an impact and restore someone’s hope and sense of worth. Take those opportunities and crush them.
– the Wife