Believe it or not, these aren’t just rhetorical questions. There’s an answer to why we need to keep hoping, keep trying, and keep dreaming. It’s because hope nurtures hope and feeds determination. It has this effect on others, of course. Your hope can inspire your friend to hope; your friend’s hope—nurtured by your own—can inspire another, and on and on until the world is inspired. Of course that’s possible. But it also works within oneself.
When I was in high school, I received a brochure in the mail telling me of a great opportunity. It was a summer program at Cambridge, and it was my first real invitation to dream of England with a realistic hope of getting there. My parents said that I could go if we had the money, but it turned out we didn’t. Still, a spark had ignited, and it wouldn’t be snuffed out so easily.
Later in high school, I went through a bit of a National Treasure phase, I guess you’d call it. Basically, I spent my time online reading through treasure hunting forums and investigating conspiracy theories. I was convinced I knew where to look for an ancient Templar treasure in the western United States. My dad and I even planned a theoretical treasure hunting road trip, which, for a while, I believed we might actually take, though we never did.
When the spring of senior year rolled around, another road trip was proposed, this time with my friends from school. Victoria and I spent hours on the phone discussing a spring break trip to Florida. I collaged the front of a composition notebook with beach pictures and used it to plan our route, our budget, and everything. But…that trip didn’t happen either. Neither did my uncle’s proposed trip to Honduras. He was going to take me, but a coup d’état or something equally unpredictable got in the way.
You’d think I’d be discouraged with all the false starts and misplaced wishes. You’d think those once consuming and lovely dreams lying in pieces on the floor would deter me from getting my hopes up again. But they didn’t. The broken pieces came together to form a more colorful mosaic, and I grew to become more determined than ever to see the world, and to achieve the countless other things I hoped for. Preparation for the derailed Honduras trip led me to the post office, where I stood in line to obtain my passport. And look where that small step has taken me. Oh, and those road trip plans that never came to fruition? Well, I still haven’t found any treasure, but I’ve been to both Florida AND the western US with the greatest friends I could ever imagine. And I don’t have to tell you how my dreams to study in England eventually came true…I probably talk about that one enough. ;)
The point is, a little hope doesn’t have to be crushed when faced with initial disappointment. It can grow, until it’s too big to be defeated. Just because your plans don’t turn out the way you want the first time, doesn’t mean you’ll never get what you’ve been yearning for. It just may take some time, and it may look different than you imagined when you do get it. And chances are, it’ll be even better. Maybe because it’s different and unexpected. Maybe because you can appreciate it more after not getting it originally. And maybe because it’s more satisfying knowing you could’ve given up, but you didn’t. You kept hoping.
My pastor said something very wise several Sundays ago. He said that the difference between wishing and hoping is action. You can wish for things, but you can rarely get them without hope, without action, without trying. After a setback or disappointment in life, it’s easier to wish things had worked out than to hope that they still can. But wishing won’t get you too far. You’ve got to hang on to that hope, as battered and crushed as it can get sometimes, because that’s what will see you through. Hope nurtures hope and feeds determination, but it requires action.
And I guess that’s the next step, isn’t it?
Now, don't we all feel better after a heaping helping of cheese? This is Anna Beth, by the way. I know it's not Thursday, but I had something that was ready to post. And isn't the trend this week posting on days that aren't your own? ;)