Bogha Frois and I had another one of the liberating conversations last weekend that (inevitably) seems to result in additional deep thought.
We were discussing the thoughts expressed last week here about trying to be something that you're not, and the inevitable conflict this seems to create within yourself. Add to it one or more bad relationships in the workplace, and you've got all the makings of a personal moment of decision.
"It's hope" she said.
"Hope" she said again. "Or the lack thereof. There's no sense that anything is going to get better, that there is no timeline I can put on the situation to say 'After this date, I'm moving on to something better'. Just the general sense that this is as good as things are going to get and it only gets less good from here."
As we walked through the ramifications of hope - what it may or may not be, what it would like like in each of our situations - I realized what a vital element it is and how, much like her, it was missing in great dollops from my own life as well.
Hope is the great element that we all need - in some fashion - in our life. Hope gives us the sense that this is not all that there is, that there is something better. But at the same time we must be careful. Hope is not a substitution for hard work and effort. Hope is a feeling, an emotion, a dream - and these three things in and of themselves will not change anything.
Remove hope from a person - any sense that things will improve, that there is a better something out there - and what is left is a dull drone-like existence of living from day to day. Nothing will remove the zest from daily living more than a lack of hope.
Which of course raises the question: How do you get and maintain hope?
Of course I wish I had better answers than I always do. Ironically, for the Christian eternal hope is always the easier of the two to point towards: hope in Christ, hope in His saving grace and His promises, the hope of eternal life. Temporally for the Christian - at least, temporally for me - somewhat harder to find. I am subject to the same stresses and strains as all others; I am subject to situations that seem not to change and people that seem impervious to reason and days of the long black tunnel of existence. I can literally go weeks without any wisp of hope clouding the iron-gray sky of daily life.
But we - I - need to figure this out. Life without hope becomes not life at all but existence. And at only existence, we can scarcely seek to achieve the excellence that we are created to do.