I love the title of this installment. But in the interest of full disclosure, I can’t take credit for coming up with such a great phrase, even as witty and clever as I am. “It’s worth the journey to Hope” is actually a phrase used by a church in my area, Hope United Church of Christ. And in further interest of disclosure, it’s the church I regularly attend.
Since going to Hope UCC I have always found the phrase interesting as well as uplifting, and recently is has got me thinking. And, for as small as a church as Hope UCC is, I have to give them credit, they do a great job marketing themselves off of their name alone. Not only the aforementioned phrase, but also about a block and half from the church there is a sign on the side of the road that simply says “HOPE” accompanied by an arrow pointing off to the right. Get it? Not only is the sign saying Hope “the church” is this way, but also the feeling of hope is right around the corner. I have to admit, pretty clever.
As I said earlier, this has got me thinking recently about hope, not the church, but the emotion. I have started to feel like hope is in short supply in me, and in society as a whole. I don’t know if I have ever really been a hopeful person. It might have something to do with my upbringing. My mother was a very negative person and always preached about not getting your hopes up. I mean, I can’t really remember ever hoping something good was going to happen.
Well, I guess I have. Everyone “hopes” for something at some point in their life, but I’m starting to feel like it should be more than the simple action of hoping. I believe that emotion needs to be cultivated after the fact. It’s easy to say you hope for something, but to actually invest in that emotion, that’s the struggle. I say this from first hand experience. I catch myself constantly saying “I hope that (fill in the blank) happens, but I don’t want to get my hopes up because I don’t want to be disappointed.” That’s what it is, people are afraid of being disappointed.
The sad thing is, if we don’t invest in the emotion of “hope”, I mean truly invest in it, then we’re simply just missing out on life. I’m not breaking any news here when I say life is full of disappointments – again I speak from experience – but it’s also filled with some really good stuff too. So why not hope for it?
Recently I have been trying to look at life from different angles. Why? Well, because the stuff I’ve been doing for the last 32 years just ain’t working…..well, not all of it, but the emotional guarded stuff has got to change. For some time now I have been really unhappy with my career path. I’ve tried a lot of things to change the path as well as my outlook, and things just are not working.
Well, an opportunity has recently presented itself, and if everything works out (hopefully, lol), I could be headed in the direction I’ve been looking for. It’s kind of funny how this all went down. I submitted my resume to this company thinking nothing would come of it, but my wife stayed hopeful for both of us. My wife and I met up for lunch the other day and it was a usual discussion between us; mostly me complaining about my job and my day overall. My wife asked me, “Have you heard from (company I applied to)?” Where I answered “No, and it’s not like I’m getting my hopes up or anything. I just don’t feel like getting let down again.” My wife went on to say to me, “You know, it’s ok to hope. It’s ok to get your hopes up. Just because you could get let down shouldn’t stop you from hoping for something. It’s just sad to have no hope.” My wife usually “is” right a lot of the time, so I don’t even know why I may have doubted her for any length of time. But as I sat there and ate my sandwich and quietly pondered what she was saying the craziest thing happened. My cell phone rang. It was a recruiter from the company I sent my resume to. I kid you not. They said they were really interested in me and wanted to see where we might make a good match. I about fell on the floor.
From that moment forward I swore to myself I would start being more hopeful, no matter the outcome. And you know what, it feels good. I have spent so much of my life guarding myself from getting really hurt by not letting my emotions loose and throwing caution to the wind. No more. I just can’t believe what I’ve been missing. It’s all in that simple sentence “It’s worth the journey to hope.” The journey, that’s what it all about. By guarding myself I have missed the journey from hope to excitement to possible jubilation or even sadness from letdown, but it’s the journey of all of “that” that makes us who we are.
Hope is missing in society too. We spent so much of 2008 watching all of the build up to the upcoming Presidential election. Our current President’s whole campaign was built on hope. Everywhere you turned you saw signs with President Obama’s face, and the word “Hope.” But it seems like it’s all disappeared since the elections. Pundits want to blame the President and his administration, and I started to buy into it too. But in reality it’s our own fault. For the very same reasons I mentioned earlier. We “hope” stuff turns around, but when it doesn’t happen instantly we get upset and start to sink back into old habits of being downtrodden.
I don’t want to be that person anymore, personally and as a part of society. I want to be hopeful. Without hope, what’s the point of even trying? There’s so much in life to be hopeful for, new jobs, love, peace, joy, etc.
And like I said before, it’s not so much the “hope”, it’s the journey. The journey is what makes us stronger, happier, and more hopeful. So yes, it “is” worth the journey to hope. Amen.