When it comes to hope we are all practitioners. The fact that we get up every morning and go about our life and work is, in a way, an expression of hope.
Most, if not all of us are quite experienced in dealing with unfulfilled hopes, broken dreams and plans that did not work out. We go through all life’s seasons waiting and hoping and looking forward to something; the end of a pandemic, a new opportunity, a satisfying job, marriage, a baby to be born.
It is hard not to allow the bad mood or bad news to affect our work, motivation and performance. We cannot easily leave our sense of discouragement and despair behind the door the moment we step into the office or (what may be even harder) the moment we enter the zoom call. Bad things can hang over us and cloud our perception of who we are and what is possible.
I have been asking myself, how can we allow the good things to enter our workplaces and homes? How can we illuminate our daily ordinary activities with joy and gladness? And how can we intentionally bring hope with us wherever we go?
Hope has power to invigorate our life, boost our motivation, enlarge our perspective and upgrade our performance. What does it mean to have hope at work? And what does it mean when hope is at work in our lives?
I have been thinking a lot about hope since my trip to Seattle several years ago. I was there with a group of doctoral students; our task was to run around the city for a week and interview all those who fall through the gaps of society, and those who mend those gaps. I loved the experience. My group took on a big issue of homelessness in Seattle and we looked for hope in the midst of a real and raw social crises there. To our surprise hope was not hard to find at all. Hope was everywhere; in the hands that passed the warm meal to a shivering stranger, in the café that employed homeless young people under this beautifully formulated statement: Young people need more than just a job to move beyond street life; they need the opportunity to form a new identity and the chance to discover who they are and can become (Street Bean Café). Hope was sitting at the desk of every non-profit we visited. It drove a van, collected blankets, walked the streets, and even managed to go to church on Sunday.
“That is why faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest, not patience but impatience…Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is, but begin to suffer under it, to contradict it.” Jürgen Moltmann
I learned a very important lesson as we walked the streets of Seattle, and discussed our findings over chowder – those who are busy bringing about change do not have time to ask, is there hope? They create hope as they go. They produce it often out of something very little and insignificant. They give hope – it oozes out of them as they minister from their own wounds into the wounds of society.
Hope is visible in action, it lives in a very real and concrete manner, because hopeful people are radiant.
- One of the definitions of hope I came across is: ‘hope is a belief that one has the will and the way to accomplish all work.’ But I do not like this definition, it is linked too tightly to what we have and what is possible to achieve. I think hope is more about who we are, not what we have or do not have.
- Living with hope means living in tension: for hope lives at the intersection of opposites: today and tomorrow, now and not yet, what is and what can be. So if you feel stretched and uncomfortable, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It may be that hope is pulling you towards greater purpose.
- Hope creates intention and it fuels motivation. It is interesting that finding ourselves in tension and having intention are so similar. To live a life worthy of the calling of God will mean being more intentional about the entirety of our being in this world.
- Hope needs to be primary. Sometimes we think of hope as something worth clinging to when we have already done all we can and there is nothing else left but hope. But what if hope was a starting place of our everyday life? The start of every project or every email we have to write? What if it was something we bring with us to everything we do, not just something we additionally sprinkle on things, like magic powder, after everything is seemingly done?
If you lack hope today, do not worry – there is plenty of it around, and the God of all hope has given you access to the kingdom full of radiant hope. So as you go about your life, may all your “choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” Nelson Mandela.
Joanna is a theologian, mentor and global traveller. She is the founder of SheLives, helping women all around the world to live out their best story. As International Director of One Rock she helps both men and women to lead with both courage and competence. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.