Keeping Hope Alive

Thanks to all who responded to last week’s message, “Checking In.” It was good to hear about what is going on in your lives. And guess what, many of you reported the having the same experiences. Hmmm …

One of the things that came up a lot was the question of how to keep hope alive. When life has dealt you a really nasty blow, the kind that knocks you to floor, how do you come out of it and keep your hope alive?

I have to admit that the question has been hard to answer because I’m struggling right now. Just in the last 10 days, I’ve been dealt a series of nasty blows, some of which totally blindsided me. And though in retrospect the timing of that question is perfect I have had a hard time collecting my thoughts to answer it. It’s like, I know the answer but I can’t pull the energy from within to formulate it into words. Does that make sense?

Thank you Joel Osteen!

I awake each Sunday morning knowing that if nothing else goes right today, at least I’ll get an uplifting message from Joel Osteen. You know how people show up in your life with just the right words at the time when you most need it? That happened this morning.

The Well of Joy

One of the first things I needed to hear to keep hope alive is what creates hope. Hope stems from our ability to feel joy.

Going further, joy is something that we are all born it. It stems from a well inside of us that we and only we have the power to control. It’s an inalienable right of a human being, a gift or blessing we are born with.

When life deals us a nasty blow, it is us that determines how much joy will be sucked from our well.

Joel gave a great example that I want to pass along to you.

The Bird Song

A lady had a bird that lived happily in it’s cage. Each day the bird would sit on its swing singing joyfully. The lady cleaned the bird’s cage every so often using a vacuum cleaner hose. One day, as the lady was cleaning the cage, she got a call. Before she knew it the hose had tilted up and sucked the little bird in.

The lady searched the house for the little bird but couldn’t find it. Finally she decided to look in the vacuum cleaner. Taking out the bag she saw it, disheveled, covered with dust, but still alive.

The lady cleaned up the little bird as best she could and put it back in its cage, but from that day on the little bird never sang; instead it sat staring blanking into space.

That story hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that like the little bird, I had stopped singing my song because of a traumatic event. Since my brother’s death in 2011 till now I have struggled to find my song, to feel passion and joy. Instead, I have endured, trying to get through each day, finding bits of pieces of joy along the way. In fact, I remarked to a friend just recently how much I miss the joy I used to feel. Even when bad things happened, that joy was still there … like a silent undercurrent running through my world. As long as i had that joy, I could reignite my hope no matter what.

How do we refill our well of joy?

Joy stems from our ability to be grateful. To feel grateful we simply focus and give thanks for the things that are working in our lives. For example, I am grateful for having a roof over my head, for the heat that kept me warm this morning, and for the coffee that soothes me. Feeling gratitude is how we fill the well of joy … but there’s more.

Deciding to Thrive; Not Just Survive

What if we are struggling to want to refill our well? What if we try to feel gratitude but still feel empty? Well–the problem is that we are not yet ready. For whatever reason we haven’t had enough of feeling empty, lost, struggling to just to survive each day. We are just not tired enough of being sick and tired.

But there is something we can do about it. Once we realize that that is where we are, stuck in survival mode, but still not ready to let go of the pain, we can ask our souls to help us get there. I did that this morning.

Now, if that is still not enough there is one more thing we can do.

Remember the Reward

I firmly believe that we don’t go through these painful events for nothing. From a soul perspective they are meant to help us. By facing the fear and changing the dysfunctional belief that is source of the fear, we grow beyond it. From that point on it will not affect us in the same way again. It’s like facing the fear of falling by falling and getting back up. But if we are stuck on the ground, and no matter how much we want to be grateful for what we have we can’t, there is one more thing that can help us: remember the reward.

The reward is that whatever we lose, whatever we have to endure, if while still in the midst of it we can find a way feel joy, all that we have lost will be restored. Moreover, it will be more than we had before. I find this to be a great incentive because I’ve experienced it occurring in my life not once but several times. Each time what was given back was more than I had before.

In closing, though it may be hard at times to keep hope alive, knowing what creates hope, knowing what is keeping us stuck if we are, and remembering the reward to come if we can continue to fill our well of joy, even in the midst of our struggles, can be just the tickets we need to get us through.