As I listen to all the sounds around me, I can’t help but to reflect on the lives that have made impressions upon me and given me hope in my darkest hours. We all are a testament to hope. We all leave a lasting impression on those around us without even realizing how we imprint on others. It could be a simple smile at the coffee shop that lets someone see that they aren’t worthless. A helping hand in troubling times may give a person a sense of renewed hope. A conversation with a stranger could give way to hope. Even a simple look can change a person’s demeanor. The truth is that we are all a part of the circle of hope. Without hope, there is no light, no truth, no life.

This morning I was in a local grocery store. There was a man doing the grocery shopping along with his three children, all whom appeared to be under the age of five. They were all in rare form. The children were loudly communicating with him so that he and everyone else in the store knew that they were there. My heart didn’t know whether to chuckle, or feel for him, because the kids were trying to get his attention every way they knew how and he was exasperated. He couldn’t even look for a can of beans without a child saying “Daddy I want this”. A woman who appeared to be in her late fifties to early sixties approached them and engaged them in a conversation to which the children’s eyes lit up, their attention refocused on her and what she was asking. I didn’t hear the whole conversation but the kids were very enthusiastic with her and the father was extremely gratified and full of renewed hope that he could get on with his day and not feel like he couldn’t regain his composure. It’s the little things like this that help to give us hope.

When someone is fighting diseases, they are given hope when the doctors mention new treatments that may help to save their lives. It’s a tricky situation. A lot depends on whether or not new treatments will work with someone’s body. There’s also an issue of mind over matter. Sometimes if we go into something with a negative mindset, then all we will get is negativity back. On the flipside, when we stay focused on the positives in our lives, we have a stronger sense of hope. We are able to combat diseases much more effectively. That doesn’t mean we always win the war but we don’t have to lose the fight. Energy is infectious. The more positive the energy, the more it electrifies and stimulates us. The more negative the energy, the more we stay tired and unfocused. It’s easy to give up when you don’t see the positives in any situation.

Never let hope be quenched. Without hope, we have no dreams.

I have mixed emotions on the hope of future generations. When children are raised with morals and values, they have a tendency to give more hope to the future. That isn’t always the case but a majority of the time, they have been guided to treat others with respect, compassion, and understanding. When children are neglected and treated as outcasts, many times they turn to crime in order to move on with their lives. Again, this doesn’t happen in every case but it does happen more frequently than any of us would like to admit. Society has made it to where most people have to work two to three jobs just to make ends meet. They can’t be there for their kids. I think that’s why more parents who can afford it hire nannies to help out with their children. We are all so focused on our careers, that our kids see this pattern. In that respect, I truly hope that our kids learn balance. I hope that they encounter mentors who not only provide a positive hope for their future, but a clearer direction and purpose for their lives. Scouting helps a lot of kids just like other programs do but some of these programs for kids cost money. Not everyone is allowed to participate. They say that they are not discriminatory but unless the children can get a scholarship, a grant, or assistance without the other kids knowing this, then it’s a struggle. Once other kids find out that a child is getting assistance, they are more of a target for bullying. It’s a sad situation but a very real one.

Teachers are one of the biggest allies in the fight for hope. They influence not just our kids but all of us. Life is a constant education. There are times in our lives that we all have to continue learning whether we want to or not. Teachers see the potential in us before we even see it in ourselves. They are trained to see what characteristics make students stand out and where they struggle. They are the driving force between the hope of our kids and ourselves. A good teacher can create a lifetime of interest in areas. A bad teacher can influence a child’s self esteem and that can last a lifetime of self-confidence issues. I had a teacher in the first grade who got me so upset constantly. I craved her approval. I tried so hard to make her proud. I was never good enough for her. Little did I know that her disapproval of me never had to do with me per se, but rather for what I represented. She was living with her boyfriend at the time. I was a preacher’s daughter. She was ashamed and embarrassed. Of what, I have no clue but I paid the price. I would come home after peeing in my pants because of the actions she took upon me. I would cry every day because I was never praised by her. The movie Matilda illustrates the headmistress in a very scary manner and in many ways, my first grade teacher was a lot like the headmistress in the movie. I still remember that feeling of unease. I used to hope and wish that I never had her again. Fortunately, my parents moved. My hope was fulfilled. My confidence however, took a beating that took years to remember the core of the problem.

Then there are friends who give us hope in the bleakest hours of our lives. They share in our success, our struggles and strife’s, our emotional valleys, and throughout life’s curveballs. They are our lifeline. Without friends to lean on, the world would be a very lonely and dark place. No matter what happens in our lives, our friends provide the hope and reinforcements that we crave. True friends are there no matter what. There are four folks in my circle that I can truly say are my friends. These people have been with me through all the peaks and valleys and accept me as I am – flaws and all. I don’t worry about the little things with them because I can be myself. I have a very analytical mind. I nitpick over little details and sometimes obsess about little things. My friends give me the hope and the guidance I need when I get too analytical and obsessive. They bring me back to earth. It is through their friendship that I can genuinely feel as if the world is not full of gloom. They make days that are difficult a little brighter and a lot more fun.

Our jobs provide hope if we let it. Without jobs, we wouldn’t be able to earn an income. We wouldn’t be able to provide for our families and save for the future. Instead, we would be constantly full of depression because we would be so focused on money instead of what matters most – our families. When we fail plan, we do plan to fail. It’s a true statement and a testament to the planning that many have done before us. Our forefathers may not have been politically correct, but they did make a plan for this country in providing a Declaration of Independence. They helped fight for our freedom. They fought for our right to hope and change our future for the better. I doubt they knew how well we would do with technology and modern conveniences, but I would be willing to bet, they knew that without hope, people can not dream and without dreams, we can not progress.

I am full of hope for the days and years to come. I dream of peace with each other. I hope that as a society, we can stop fighting with one another and start working together with those we disagree to find a common ground and make a better future for each other. I dream of a future where modern technology is only hacked for good things and not the use of evil ( a pipedream I know but a girl can hope). I hope that cancer and other horrific diseases are eradicated and that suffering can cease. In the elections, I dream that politicians can stop slinging mud at each other and remember why they are there. Most politicians have forgotten what it’s like to be a regular person. Many of them are wealthy. They have Staff that waits on them hand and foot. They have forgotten those of us who live either paycheck to paycheck or really close to that. Their bottom line is to get in office for the perks. I can only hope that at some point, politicians are held accountable for the actions they present. If the American people are held responsible for our actions, then the government ought to be held accountable as well. They shouldn’t get a free pass just because they were elected to office.

Last but not least, my hope is that each of you are able to live your lives in peace, with happiness and healthy lives. Too many people have been diagnosed with incurable diseases. MS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, certain cancers, and other diseases like advanced Lyme Disease plague others when the timing is terrible. There’s a lot of people in this world who have lost hope and lost their way. You can see it in their eyes and their body language. Sometimes we get so lost in our own worlds, that we fail to see others who are going through things worse than we can imagine. I know several folks that just looking at them, you would never know how their worlds are falling apart. The despair they feel isn’t shown but the people closest to them have become their rock. They understand that we all struggle and have bad days.

Hope is a powerful word. It solidifies a strong presence in a world that struggles daily. It gives a certain credence to the faith of mankind in each other. We hear of so much violence but we see communities band together after unfathomable acts. When the tornados destroyed much of the area around me, our community joined forces to give hope to the victims. They lost their homes, their material possessions but survived. As one woman put it, “We had faith that God would get us through and he protected us.” To me, that shows that hope and faith work hand in hand. All of the recent shootings sicken me. They have dashed many people’s hopes and dreams without thinking of the repercussions. In truth, the ones carrying out the acts often are so selfish, they have lost hope and take it out on everyone else. Acts of violence within our police system, racial inequalities and gender attacks are on the rise. Whether you agree with someone or not, violence is never a good solution. Many innocent lives are needlessly taken every day because someone got offended or angry. Violence doesn’t solve anything. All it does is cause more damage. I’m not saying never fight. Sometimes you have to defend yourself. All I am saying is choose wisely.

Take a moment to reflect your hopes and dreams. What are you most grateful for? What are your own hopes for the future? Where do you think you can help to change someone else’s hopes? Have you paid attention to those around you? Are you so caught up in your own life that you have forgotten how to catch your breath? For those who are artists, create something that shows the hope you have. For the musicians, play and write the music that inspires the hope you see in the world. For the writers, find the joy around you. For everyone who has a gift of talent, do something with your talent that gives hope and joy to those around you. If you are a chef, create a new meal. If you don’t do any of those things, that’s ok. Just find ways to make the difference in someone’s life. You never know. You just might be the hope they need to keep staying inspired and positive.

Many miracles have happened because we dared to hope. Hope, prayer, and faith help change lives. Change someone’s life for the better and give them hope.

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