I’ll bet you know what it is to be hopeful. And I’ll bet you know what it is to feel completely hopeless, too. It’s pretty miserable, to say the least. I’ve always said you can live a long time on just a little bit of hope. But when it’s gone, it feels like life isn’t worth living.
But you wanna hear one of the coolest things about hope? It’s a choice. It’s a decision. If you want it, you can have all you want. When there’s an incident that seems to wipe out the last of it, you can refill any time you like. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to give up, to throw in the towel and say that’s it, that’s all, you’re baked, you’re done.
You’re always free to do that, but it’s a miserable place to live. The world is a much brighter place when you can hope that things will improve. And you know what? They always do.
Sure, sometimes they get a whole lot worse before they get better. I’m way too familiar with that story. But eventually, they will improve. That’s because things are always changing. It’s the only constant. In that, you can trust.
Okay, so at least there is that little tidbit to get you through when things aren’t going your way and you want to check out, give up, go home, and cry. You can always tell yourself you just have to be patient, wait your turn, or wait till the sun comes up on your life again, because it will, whatever else is going on, no matter how dark and dismal it is right now.
Yeah, I can just hear you telling me how hard it is to feel hopeful when you’re life has just thrown up all over itself. Especially if it’s been doing it for quite a while. Maybe even years. And I know that story all too well, too.
But so what if it’s hard to be hopeful? Do it anyway. Dig a little deeper. It’s in there somewhere. It’s just buried under some other stuff but poke around, you’ll find the hope you need if you want it because it’s in the thoughts that you choose to think.
You might be thinking I don’t know just how bad it is for you right now, or how bad it might have been, or could get. I’m not you, that’s for sure, but I’ve had more than my share of troubles and I can assure you, I do understand the generalities, if not the specifics.
I could tell you about loads of times I wanted to give up. I know fear. I know threat. I know suffering. I know despair and desperation.
I know what it is to have a life-threatening illness and get so fed up with it, I had a plan to check out because I couldn’t take the suffering any more. And I didn’t want my family to have to watch it any longer either. I figured they’d all be better off without me. I was pretty sure my children had all had enough of wondering which day they’d come home from school and find me dead.
I had a plan and I wasn’t telling anyone. I knew from my social work training that this meant I was pretty “high risk” in terms of carrying out my plan for suicide but I didn’t care. I wasn’t just toying with the idea. I was “dead serious.” I’d found a way out and all I felt was sweet relief I was just waiting for the right time.
But in the meantime, my patients needed me. I was making them well. I was healing and helping, making a difference in their lives. I was still contributing, and my own suffering made it that much more important for me to carry on and remove theirs as long as I could stand to keep breathing.
They never knew it, but they were the reason why I chose to have hope that I would be well again, or that I would at least find my way to a place where I could function again, even if not in perfect health.
After a few weeks of chewing on when I was going to carry out my foolproof plan to end my miserable existence, my digging for hope paid off. Finally, I saw the faintest little light at the end of the tunnel. I decided that I mustn’t give up. Maybe I wouldn’t just keep suffering until I was blissfully taken to an early grave. Maybe there would be a cure or some improvement. And maybe not. But it was my choice, my prerogative to hope that I might get better someday. I made the decision to fight.
So I fought. And in time I found an answer in the most unexpected way. I have been completely well for several years because I dared choose hope.
Will you choose it, too?