I’ve been thinking a lot about hope during the past few weeks. It comes in many forms and sometimes when you desperately need it the most. Sometimes you have to search for it.
Hope is an “optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation.” “As a verb, it’s definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation.”(Wikipedia)
Hope is one of my oldest cows. She is probably ten years old and one of the original five that I inherited when my dad passed. She has always had healthy calves and has been a good mother cow.
In fact, that is how she got her name. Before we started naming calves with the theme of the year, she had a gigantic bull calf, Charlie, that seemed to be nursing a lot.She was so thin by the time that we weaned him, we called her Hope because we hoped she would live.
Hope is also the feeling that I have that each day will be a little better with pain level after my losing wrestling match with the mad mama cow a couple weeks ago.
“Hamburger Helen,” as she is now affectionally named, has no hope of seeing a life much past the weaning of her calf because of her crazy.
What I’ve come to know in my years of working with people in difficult situations is that if they have little or no hope of the situation improving, their motivation to make changes is minimal.
It makes sense. Why would I put in all the work when there is no hope of life improving? I get it, but then it becomes my goal to help them build hope.
I’ve found myself trying to build hope more than once in my own life.
Last week I attended a virtual training on transformational relationships presented by The Center for Social Policy. They had started their project with trying to “learn more about relationships powerful enough to help youth begin to think, feel and act differently.”
They found that youth workers who were successful with building transformational relationships with youth and building hope were more likely to:
1. Listen. Over-and-over again they found that listening more also meant that the workers talked less. They listened for understanding and not just for responding. Good, healthy active listening.
2. Be persistent over time. Relationships and hope do not happen quickly. It takes extensive time and patience.
3. Be “real”. In the study this involved workers who found common interests and shared pieces of their personal stories with youth to connect. They went beyond their job description.
4. Challenge the youth. Youth who were a part of the research said“they pushed me to do better” and “confronted me when necessary.”
5. Show up in crisis. When bad things happened to the youth being interviewed for the research, they said that people who showed up, stayed with them, and helped them get through the problem build a great deal of trust.
How hopeful are you? Are you helping others build on hope?
Hope is also the feeling that I have during this season of Lent and with Easter just around the corner. As a Christian, it is one of the most exciting holidays on the calendar and not because of the Easter Bunny.
Hope of eternal life in Heaven because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)