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Where am I supposed to find hope?

I remember asking that question, sometimes even screaming it. Not just one time. Many times. Times when there were no answers to the situations around me. And moments when it felt like I was doing more for others than they were doing for me. But most of the time, it was when I felt like I was the problem. Everyone around me was having to “put up with me” again. The times when my situations or problems or emotions were too much for the people around me. In any one of those places, it felt dark and overwhelming. It felt as though I was the sole source of hurt, pain and inconvenience for others. That’s when the spiral hits. The spiral of thinking that leads into a dark cavern of dangerous thoughts. “I hate that they are hurting because of me.” “Soon they will get tired of dealing with all my stress.” “Sometimes I feel like they would all be better off without me.”

I’m guessing that many of you have thought or felt the same way. You’ve experienced that self-doubt and even self-hatred that becomes so intense that it overtakes every thought. It feels like a weight that is bearing down on your chest and you just can’t lift it off. There’s a part of you that is fighting and clawing from the inside wishing for some kind of hope. Even when the tears are rivers and the hurt, anger, or frustration are all that you can see, you hope for hope.

That’s when that voice, sometimes barely a whisper, bubbles up from the inside and asks, “Where am I supposed to find hope?”

I discovered that answering it for myself is very different than answering it for someone else. In fact, the answer is different for each person. It’s even different for the same person from one day to the next.

For me, there are days hope is the sound of my sister’s voice. Other moments, it’s my mom’s joy over the simplest things. The sweet laughter of friends I haven’t seen in a long time. A message from a friend overseas that simply says she hopes I’m having a good day when she knows things have been tough. It’s spending time in a field with a donkey as he nudges into me and tugs on my coat while I let out all the emotional junk going through me. Sometimes it’s calling a friend at just the right moment so they could get all their junk out knowing I brought hope into their day.

Those are some places where hope entered my story. When my heart was aching so badly that sometimes I physically hurt.

Now, where are YOU supposed to find hope? That’s a wonderful and courageous question. Can I give you an exact answer? No. Trust me, I wish I could. What I can do is give you some ways to help you find your hope, because I am guessing that there is already some hope around you. Sometimes it may be hard to see, I get that. Believe me, I do.

Let’s start with something simple. Take a moment to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think of, even visualize, three things that you are grateful for or just make you smile a little. Yep, I mean do that right now. I’ll wait. Grab a piece of paper, a stickie note, the notes app on your phone, something, and jot those three things down. You know what? If you only came up with one thing, that’s cool. Write down that one thing or draw it, whatever you want. The next time there seems to be no hope, look at that list, no matter how short it is. Hold it close to your chest and take a deep breath and remember. This is where some hope entered your story before. Where will it come from this time? It can be the same thing, or it may be something entirely different. That’s the beauty of hope. It’s what you need it to be right then.

What is your hope right now? Seriously. Tell me in the comments. I can’t wait to read it.

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