I. Hope.

What is hope?

That’s my quest(ion) for December. Explore hope. Look for evidence of it in my life. Search for it everywhere. When I wake up in the middle of the night drenched in despair, I want to dare myself to look under the bed, straight into the monsters’ eyes, and ask them where they’ve hidden it.

Lately, I’ve known it only by its absence, and I haven’t bothered to go looking for it. It didn’t seem important. No, that’s not it. It didn’t seem practical, real, possible. I didn’t believe it existed for me. It didn’t apply to my life.

Hope was for other people. The ones like you, out there, who have “real lives,” whatever that means. Hope was for people who don’t need it. The winners. The loved and loving. The lucky ones with purpose and direction. They bathe in hope. Right?

Maybe not. That’s what I’d like to explore. What is hope? What is it to me?

Hope is the expectation that things are going to get better, work out for the best, improve. Wherever you’re starting, hope moves you forward, encourages you to keep going. Hope tells you that this isn’t all there is, if what you want is more. Hope promises that you’ll keep what you love, and find what you’ve lost, and rest at the end of the day. Hope keeps your feet moving, one step after another, even if it’s just a shuffle.

Hope punches through the walls of your cell, flooding it with light. Yes, you feel trapped, stuck, overwhelmed, heartsick, and weary. Hope acknowledges all of that and says, “Hold on. This isn’t over. Don’t give up now.”

Hope is the muscle behind the wish that things would get better. It’s the strength in your grip on life, because its core is certainty, confidence in the expectation that those wishes will come true.

Hope looks up and out and takes deep, cleansing breaths. It eats right and exercises, because it knows the journey might be a long one.

And no matter how lost you feel, hope holds your hand in the darkness and whispers, “Don’t be afraid. We’ve got this.”

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