It is one of the worst feelings in the world.
I walked up to the top floor of my apartment complex’s parking garage. My roommates had taken our spots, so I did my best to pick a safe spot under a light. However, as I got closer to my car, I wondered, “Didn’t I roll up the windows before I got out?” The glass on the ground showed me I hadn’t forgotten to secure my car.
Someone had broken into my Nissan Altima. They stole my favorite sunglasses, a couple books, and the face of my CD player. Luckily, I was a poor seminary student at the time without much to steal.
If you’ve even had your home or car broken into, you know how terrible the feeling is to know someone has been in your “safe space” without your permission. You feel violated. Insecure. Naked.
Robbed of Hope
In the same way, many of us know that feeling, I believe we all know what it means to be robbed of hope. We know what robs us of hope.
A toxic relationship. The kind where we loathe seeing that person’s name on our phone as they are calling or texting us.
A nonstop crisis. That season in life where you feel constantly exhausted and overwhelmed, uncertain of how things will resolve.
Unending work hours. Have you ever felt like you lived at your job? You wondered to yourself, “do I even have a life?”
Watching hours of cable news. I feel there is an inverse relationship to the level of hope we have with the hours of cable news we watch per week. (More news, less hope and vice versa)
Reading the comments section. If you want to affirm your belief in the brokenness and depravity of mankind, go to any news site and read the comments section. And then go take a shower!
Comparing your life to others online. We all know we shouldn’t compare our behind-the-scenes footage to someone else’s highlight reel, but we do it anyway!
Control is a myth
Here’s the challenge when it comes to hope – our hope cannot be based on our circumstances. Because we aren’t in control of that. Control is a myth! I’m not in control of what comes in and out of my life. I’m not in charge of other people’s decisions. I cannot change my genetics and family medical history.
But I can take steps to shape my perspective and attitude in response to what I cannot control. And you can too.
Our perspectives and attitudes don’t just shape our lives. They impact everyone we rub shoulders and connect with each day.
This reality motivated my newest project. The Hope Manifesto: Why We Need You to Fight Cynicism and Fear Today is a powerful call to reclaim your role in your fight for hope. This visual eBook was professionally designed to be read in one sitting (15 minutes), even by those who aren’t super into reading. It looks great on your phone and will be a source of motivation and inspiration!
In addition to reading the manifesto, I’ve also been assembling a list of the practices which can renew our hope. This month, we’ve looked at how pace and place renew our hope. We’ve explored the kinds of people who restore our perspective. And we’ve seen how a purpose bigger than us remind us of the power of our hope. I’ve included the list below.
9 Practices Which Renew Our Hope
1. Silence & Stillness
Pausing to be quiet, alone, and at rest can do wonders to calm the tornado of daily activity. Like a stormy lake, coming to rest can change the atmosphere and our attitudes.
Gratitude doesn’t change our experience, but it does change our perception of our experience. Research has proven gratitude helps us better weather adversity and become more generous to others.
Not just Facebook articles and breaking news, but the Bible and real books. Reading something which was written by people in another era, even those who are no longer alive allows us to see the world through their eyes.
4. Connecting with Trusted Friends
Whether in person or over the phone, a conversation with a mentor or a friend can radically alter our take on a situation. A cloudy crisis can become crystal clear when a wise advisor shares wisdom with us.
5. Celebrating history
As a pastor and student of the Bible, I’m reminded of how often the Israelites built monuments and altars to commemorate the acts of God. Each of us has milestones we can look back on and celebrate, which fuel our hope in order to keep facing our present challenge.
6. Reconnecting with your identity
Knowing who you are – apart from what you do – is a great way to cut through a challenging season. I recently rediscovered an identity statement I wrote about 11 years ago in seminary. Revisiting it has been affirming and clarifying for me.
7. Developing a sense of purpose bigger than you
When you have a purpose larger than your best interest or present circumstances, your eyes can look up to a hope. This hope can keep you moving even when you’re discouraged or feeling defeated.
It’s amazing how different life looks after a long, exhausting workout. Your body may be tired but your mind and soul are refreshed.
We need the renewal which rest brings. As someone once said, the Bible calls those who won’t work lazy, but those who won’t rest sinful. We are limited resources and we need to live as such.
Fight for Hope
I’d love for you to check out my Hope Manifesto. Once you’ve read it, let me know what you think. And leave a comment below with the practices you engage which restore your perspective and renew your hope.