Did you know that there is no such thing as darkness? Darkness is not a thing. Light is a thing. Light is generated from a source like the sun, like fire, like electricity. Darkness is not created–it is the baseline. We control how much light there is, and that is how we determine whether or not we want to be in the dark.
Likewise, there is no such thing as cold. There is only the presence or absence of heat. Heat is the thing that is generated, interestingly enough by the same sources that create light–the sun, fire, electricity. We feel heat when it is created, and what we call cold is merely the lack of heat. Cold is the baseline. Fortunately for us, God gave us a 2-fer, and when he created light, heat came along with it.
Hope is the same way. Hopelessness is not a thing. Hope is a thing. Hopelessness is the baseline, like darkness or cold. Like light, like heat, hope must be generated. If we want it, we must create it. I can look at dead branches on the ground and say, “Look, dead branches.” Someone else will look at dead branches on the ground and say, “Look, free firewood.” The fuel for the creation of hope is there for anyone to use, but a person has to choose to use it.
You cannot create hope for someone else. You are not their generator. You are their fuel. If you want to bring hope into someone’s life, first YOU have to find the positive in a situation, and then you offer it to them as kindling for their own fire. Whether or not they use what you show them to generate their own hope is up to them.
Here’s another thing…hold on to your hat for this one because it’s going to blow you away…your hope CANNOT be stolen. No one can make you hopeless. You are simply not choosing the right fuel to make your “hope generator” run. If you want to be the fuel for someone else, you have to find sources of energy to keep your own fire lit. Then you can be the source for them.
I offer in evidence those who have kept hope in the most horrendous imaginable, such as the Holocaust. They found something to hold on to, something to focus on that gave them hope for a better day. Those are the people who survive.
That doesn’t mean that everyone or everything I listen to or watch has to agree with my point of view. What it does mean is that I can choose to fill my life with people who believe a problem can be solved, not those who promote the despair that it never will. I can focus my attention on those with whom I am united in our desire to make the situation better, we just believe in different ways to do it. If someone says “This is horrible, and it will never get better,” then for them, it never will. They are not generating hope or offering fuel to make it burn brighter for anyone else. On the other hand, if someone says, “I can see you’re trying to make things better. If your way doesn’t work, let’s come at it from a different point of view,” then we are most definitely going to create a better world for us and everyone else.
Hope. Find your fuel and keep your fire lit, so others can live in the light.
PostScript: Reading over this in the light of day, I feel like it needs some clarifications. While it is true that hopelessness is merely the absence of hope, people are not born without hope. Children are the most entirely optimistic people on the planet, and for them, hopelessness has to be learned from hopeless adults. However, listening to some adults who are product of that environment, it is possible to rise above it. It is not easy, it is an extraordinary accomplishment by extraordinary individuals, but it can be done.
Second, for those of us who suffer from depression, hopelessness can be an unavoidable by-product of an illness as real and chronic as diabetes. On occassion a situation overwhelms us beyond our ability to control. In such cases, we have to have an alternative method to regain our hope. Listening to music, watching movies, playing with pets, taking long walks–or turning off the news and watching the Hallmark channel–the method is as individual as the person.
I try to be an agent of hope and lift people up, not by false flattery or optimism, but focusing on the positive truths in their lives. Many people I know offer me that same gift, and I want to pay it forward as much as I can.