“There is hope out there.” This is how I was quoted when I was interviewed for our local newspaper. I believe that is true and I use that premise as the basis for my speaking engagements. I survived a life changing event when I became paralyzed. Now I am standing, walking and driving. I encourage others to have hope. I recently read a blog by Rev. Dr. David J. Lose, who holds the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, that made me think twice about hope. In his regular blog entitled, “…In the Meantime,” he challenges the thought that hope is always positive. He writes:
“Hope is beautiful like a sonata from Mozart. It’s beautiful because it’s something that you can hold on to when you’ve lost everything else. And it’s beautiful because it’s something that creates possibilities that have very little do with your immediate circumstances, possibilities that stretch you beyond the confines of what you can imagine here and now.
But, hope turned to expectation is dangerous. It can disappoint you, let you down, and even crush you if it turns out to be false.
Hope creates not just the possibility, but also the energy and motivation…to act, to dare, to believe.
So maybe hope is that condition of being caught between beauty and danger, between possibility and despair, between freedom and fear.
In the movie, “Hope Floats”, actress Sandra Bullock says, “Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s everything in between that makes it all worth living.”
And so I’m willing to risk the possibility that my Christian faith is a false hope. Because, while I won’t know the outcome for some time, when the time comes I’d rather have spent my life living in the light of a good and honest hope – even if it ultimately turns out to be false – than live without hope and joy in the meantime. Which is why hope is not just beautiful and dangerous, but also good, the gift of the Giver of all good things.”
I must admit, when I was told I would be paralyzed for the rest of my life, I did not have the hope of ever walking again. I continued to strive for just a little more mobility. First it was the ability to get out of my bed and into my wheelchair without a lift device. Then it was standing long enough to get a glass out of my cupboard. I always had a new goal that moved me forward.
When he heard of my success, my doctor at the Mayo Clinic responded with a confirming letter that read, “I am certainly happy to hear how you are doing. The improvement, from the time when you were the weakest, is quite amazing. I am sure that a lot of your improvement has come from simply not giving up hope and being determined to get better.”
Was I determined? Yes, very much so. Did I hope to walk? Not really. I didn’t believe that was possible for me to walk again.
The dictionary defines hope in three forms: confidence, chance, and desire. Confidence includes optimism, courage, and faith. This is the belief we can actually achieve our goals. I demonstrated this in each challenge I attempted to overcome. Chance means likelihood, possibility, and potential. This does not guarantee success it merely puts the carrot in front of us. It gives us a goal. Desire, on the other hand, is what we want, wish for, and strive for. As mature adults we have learned we do not always get what we want.
Many people hope for recovery but do not achieve it. I still believe that through acceptance, determination, courage and faith there is hope. In her book, “Courage Doesn’t Always Roar”, Maryanne Radmacher tells us that “Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”
So where to you stand? I want to always hope for the best; even if I am sometimes disappointed.