What does “hope” have to do with it?
“The belief that Edward was close enough to see the smoke would give my few men hope, and men with hope fight better….” (Cornwell, The Pagan Lord, p. 300)
When I came across this sentence in my before-bed book, I think this idea stood out to me so vividly because in the few days before reading it, I had come across the idea of “hope” in some of my other studies. Sometimes I struggle with the idea of “hope” (usually when it’s touted by politicians!), but it kept coming up in readings from people I admire and respect, so a day or two before I read the above passage I actually looked up the word “hope” in my favorite dictionary (Webster’s 1828). Here’s the definition:
A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from “wish” and “desire” in this ~ that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy, whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.
As I pondered this definition, I felt my heart smile at the idea that “hope” includes “at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.”
Then I started wondering if a key to hope ~ a belief that our situation with our son will eventually work out ~ is to let go of the idea that in order for things to “work out” it has to happen, or should happen, in a certain way (a.k.a., “my way”!).
What if your only job right now is to believe everything will eventually be OK? To actually believe it is a possibility, an option? You don’t have to know how it all works out, just that it does all work out.
Did you feel a slight lift in the weight on your shoulders as you even contemplated it might be possible? And that you don’t have to figure it out? That perhaps it’s not even your job to figure it out?
“Men with hope fight better.” Mommas do, too! Because with hope we can shake off the heaviness of despair, anger, and fear. And while we cannot figure it out for our sons ~ with hope we have more head-space to figure out how we want to show up in the current ups and downs with our son. And, that’s really the only thing we can control.
Is it time for you to “hope”?
A PIECE OF MY HEART
This month, we’re contemplating the possibility of believing that things could work out with our sons, even though we cannot see how that’s possible from where we stand right now.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I were on a flight to my nephew’s wedding. It was a short flight so I was surprised when we landed that I had a handful of missed calls and two voice mails waiting for me. One message was from a police officer ~ he was looking for my son. The other message was from a friend who wanted to let me know the police were looking for our son (they had called my friend because she had been a “reference” on a job application).
My head went straight to visions of the future for my son ~ deeply entrenched with the “wrong crowd,” in prison, or even dead. This was it ~ the beginning of the end.
I returned the officer’s call and explained that our son wasn’t talking to us and I didn’t know where he was living but I would call again if we got any other information. And, since I’m a big believer in accountability ~ even though I was scared in this particular situation ~ I called and left a message for my son, encouraging him to turn himself in. (Although he wanted nothing to do with us, he had the same phone number.)
Over the next few days, as we celebrated my wonderful nephew and his beautiful bride, the other part of my heart started preparing myself for what was coming. For a while, there was no hope that there could be a good outcome from all of this. And while things definitely got worse before they slowly got better, this incident actually ended up being what eventually brought about a change of heart (and behaviors) for our son.
It did not happen overnight, but now, several years later, our son is on a much different path.
And, to be honest, without some hope ~ or belief that it was possible ~ when the turning point came, if I would have been consumed with anger or fear, I probably would’ve driven him away (not on purpose but anger usually begets anger). Instead, because I hadn’t yet given up hope, I showed up with compassion ~ the way I wanted to.
So, I ask you to consider ~ if you had a crystal ball and could see your son ten years from now, and he was living the kind of life you weren’t embarrassed by ~ would it change how you show up with him today? Would you have as much angst? Guilt? Fear?
Remember, it’s just as likely that he will figure it out as that he won’t. Which way will you focus? The one that brings up dread? Or the one that offers peace?