This spring my daughter and I decided to plant a flower garden. This was not to be just the typical garden filled with store-bought seedlings. Rather, we wanted our garden to flourish with plants we had nurtured from seeds. Moving ahead with our vision, we purchased the little growing aquariums and seeds for a beautiful flower garden. We watered and placed them in the sunlight where they would feel the encouraging rays beat upon the soil and then kept a vigilant eye as the first signs of growth started to push its way through. This process of growth has caused me to reflect on hope.
The scriptures teach “faith is in things hoped for,” but what is hope? It’s one of those elusive concepts in the English language that are often difficult to articulate, yet hope seems to be enveloped with a sense of perceived understanding. How often have you said “I hope the [insert favorite team] win the super bowl this year” or “I hope the weather is good this weekend?” Is hope merely wishful thinking, “a verbal equivalent of keeping your fingers crossed,” or is it something more? I see hope as an attitude, a way of thinking. Yes, it is used to express our desired expectation for something to happen, but it also emanates a feeling of faith and trust that comes from experience – a place deep within our heart.
What Experience Teaches Us
From experience, I have learned seeds can grow into plants, but an action is required for the desired result. Similarly, I have discovered hope grows as I endure the trials of life. It is not an earth-shattering kind of hope that all is going to go the way I want, but more of a quiet and gentle reassurance that hope lies ahead. While our experiences may come in many different shapes and sizes, each stimulates growth, understanding, and hope which will polish our character if we allow it.
The Principle of Acting
My daughter and I couldn’t just plant the flower seeds and do nothing to encourage their growth. It required action on our part – moving ahead in faith, nourishing them and then patiently waiting.
Hope needs action – alone it is nothing more than wishful thinking.
The principle of action creates momentum when we feel immobilized by fears, rationalizations, and complacency. Do something – anything really. Life can be overwhelming, so just choose something small and do it. You will be amazed at the momentum and hope a simple action can create.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu
Determined to Help Hope Grow
A determined attitude goes a long way when it comes to helping hope grow. Here are a few things that I try to do when I feel my hope begin to shrivel.
Remember. When you are filled with hopelessness, try to remember a time you did feel hope. Fill your mind with the positive energy of that memory. Allow your recollection of the good to overpower your doubt.
Gratitude. In a recent post, I shared how gratitude had helped me with the diagnosis of my son’s cancer. When we feel hopeless, the process of looking for things to be grateful for changes our perspective. Hope is replacing our fears with the optimism of gratitude born from faith.
Feed our Faith. I love the imagery of nourishing the seed, and its parallel to our faith. It is not so much we don’t know how to feed our faith, but more about being reminded to do it. Like when our stomach grumbles because of hunger, our soul sends out signs when it is in need as well. Careful and consistent effort in fueling your faith will do more for your hope than you can imagine.
Fix our Eyes. In yoga, the primary principle of balance is related to where you focus your gaze. When I fix my eyes on something that is immovable, I’m better able to maintain balance. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The concept of an eternal perspective is to focus on what is immovable and will last beyond this life. Eternity is where we find what is truly important.
Many believe there is not much hope in the world today. With corruption, desensitization, and despair needing only the smallest amount encouragement to flourish like weeds, it is easy to see how hope is quickly becoming an “antique virtue.“
Like the little seeds we planted, hope grows when we act. There is power in nurturing our hope and helping it grow.
“While weak hope leaves us at the mercy of our moods and events, ‘brightness of hope’ produces illuminated individuals. Their luminosity is seen, and things are also seen by it! Such hope permits us to ‘press forward’ even when dark clouds oppress. Sometimes in the deepest darkness, there is no external light—only an inner light to guide and to reassure.” – Neal A. Maxwell
Hope can be the calming effect in the midst of a storm. When we nurture hope within our heart, the more it seems to grow. Hope is realistic expectations taking the form of determination. It helps us not just to survive but to thrive. Hope helps us learn how to maneuver and endure life’s dips and turns.
What does hope mean to you? How do you nurture your hope?
- 2 Corinthians 4:18. lds.org. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/2-cor/4.18?lang=eng#17
- Hebrews 11:1. lds.org. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/heb/11.1?lang=eng#1
- Hiller, L. (2009). lds.org. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/2009/06/hope-the-misunderstood-sister?lang=eng
- Maxwell, Neal A. (1994). lds.org. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1994/10/brightness-of-hope?lang=eng