Storm is Coming
There once was an old sailor who had been seasoned by his life on the sea to know that storms were a frequent part of the world. Whenever he saw a storm coming, he would calmly lower the anchor, batten down the hatches, and go to bed for the night, knowing that the sea would be rough, but the anchor’s grasp would keep his boat safe. He knew it would be there in the morning.
Like that sailor, we, too, have an “anchor” that can help us make it through the storms of our lives. It’s called hope.
Having hope is not the same as wishing for something, or being idealistic. Hope is a choice that we make, and a renewable resource for navigating life as it is, not as we wish it to be.
I saw this clearly demonstrated when a dear friend suddenly, and inexplicably, lost the sight in one eye a few years ago. She did all she could to determine the cause, to seek care from medical specialists, and, eventually, she chose to accept the loss while adapting creatively to her changed lifestyle with humor and grace.
She can’t drive at night any longer, for example, but she eagerly makes brunch and lunch dates with friends and family. She often says things like “I am too busy to feel sorry for myself” and “I have so many blessings, I am grateful every day.” Rather than be at war with the new reality of her life, she has chosen to face it, make peace with it, and grow from it.
One of the most powerful elements of hope is that it allows the good to be revealed during tough times. Hope takes goodness seriously and combines it with humility, to teach us to approach everything and everyone with a readiness to see goodness in our challenges.
My friend, for instance, has learned some key lessons: she has learned the healing power of compassion, kindness and love from friends and family who have given their support and shown their admiration. She has learned that laughter can be a saving grace, and, from her changed circumstances, she has created a lifestyle that keeps her feeling fulfilled, with a purpose and goals that bring joy and a sense of contentment.
How can you strengthen your hope when days seem long, and the future looks worrisome? When your heart has been broken by loss and you are grieving the transition you are enduring? Hope must be nurtured, and there are three steps you can take to keep hope alive
Keeping Hope Alive
- Accept life on its own terms – humble yourself to know that you aren’t in charge and, in fact, there’s little you can control. Practice saying the Serenity Prayer until you have absorbed it and made it a habit -”God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Life is full of impermanence, and there are many losses we encounter along the way but with hope as our companion, we can do more than survive; we can thrive.
- Be patient and have faith – do what psychologists suggest when you are learning a new behavior: “act as if” you are already hopeful, even when you don’t feel it. Know that life runs on “divine right timing” rather than human timing. Each life transition begins at a threshold where we leave one way of being and enter another. Thresholds are not accidental; they are intense frontiers that divide one world of feelings and experiences from another. Once over the threshold, you cannot go back because you have changed; you are no longer the same person who crossed over. It takes time to acclimate to the new world, and to the new vistas that will be revealed in time.
- Be grateful – end each evening with a review of what you are grateful for that happened during the day; who came to visit and gave you helpful advice or words of encouragement; or how good that first cup of coffee tasted in the morning; or how sweetly the birds of spring were singing when you went out for a walk. Each day, keep an attitude of gratitude and accept the invitation to grow, to transform loss into presence, and to allow the past to fall away when the new emerges.
Hope is meant to be our companion, and it is a conscious choice we make to embrace it. Like the old sailor, we put our trust in the anchor of hope to hold us safe in the storm, and bring us home to the shore, again and again.
Elaine Voci is the author of The Five Most Harmful Myths About Grief: Voci, Elaine: 9781457568039: Amazon.com: Books.
Tags: accept life, be grateful, be patient, have faith