Have you ever stopped to think, “What is hope?” It’s a word we easily use when we are faced with challenges. Many goals and aspirations have been built on hope. The proper definition is: “feeling of want or desire that something can be had.”
Today, I looked a person in the eye who said, “I have no hope. I have lived my life to the best of my ability and now I have nothing left.” I didn’t know what to say. She’s right. She’s dying. Not because of anything she has done, but because fate has handed her the card of a shorter life. I saw hopelessness. Have you ever had someone plead with you for an answer and know that you do not have one? Have you ever had to hold the hand of another human being who had nothing to place hope in?
Down the hall, there is a gentleman that desperately needs assistance to gain independence in order to return home. He will have nothing of it. When asked how he will perform his daily activities, his response is, “My family will take care of me.” Because he is absolutely sure that his family will commit to taking care of his needs, he sees no reason to perform any exercises that will increase his independence.
We often toss around the word faith when we are speaking of belief in a higher being. We think of “things unseen.” We automatically classify someone who has faith into a religious category. The proper definition of faith is: “confidence/trust/belief in something or someone. Observance of an obligation from loyalty.”
This man has complete faith in his supportive family and therefore does not feel obligated to perform any steps to create independence for himself. How do you properly motivate this person without dismantling his faith? How do you create strength without disrespecting his conviction?
These experiences have created an opportunity for me to ponder faith, hope, and love. I have wrestled with the question, “What’s more powerful, hope or faith?” I have dissected these two words and concluded there is a missing ingredient.
The answer is love. The approach is love. The proper definition of love is: “profoundly tender passionate affection; affectionate concern for wellbeing.”
It sounds simple. But it’s not. When I am faced with the task of impacting a person’s life that is struggling with their hope, I step back and ask, “How can I lovingly assist this person without diluting the truth?” Because love must be cloaked in the truth.
When I face this gentleman who is determined that his family’s obligation of loyalty will float him through his days, I step back and ask, “How can I properly prepare this family to successfully meet this man’s belief in their ability to care for him?” And I lovingly uncover his strengths and teach them how to compensate for his weakness.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Faith can create a platform for strong convictions to be followed and expressed in so many aspects of life. For example, we have faith in leaders to make wise decisions. When we feel our faith is being challenged, we stand up for our beliefs and convictions and push for a change. How does that look when love is missing? What does it look like when it is full of love or compassion?
Hope is a powerful feeling. Like a drug, it can posses a person to do things they would not ordinarily have the strength to do. We can dig deep into our wellbeing and find the courage to step into or out of scenarios that would otherwise seem impossible. But, when love is missing, hope can be a gamble. We have heard the term “hopelessly in love” and have seen grown men and women make life choices that are bound to a buoy of hope with no evidence of love.
Faith and hope can be strong motivators to drive our daily activities, our relationships, and our purpose in life. But if love is missing from either of these, then what do we have left?
When I hear the words, “the greatest of these is love,” I used to think it meant that love was bigger and better than faith or hope. But what I am learning is that love is the quantitative sum of faith and hope and how we treat ourselves and others.
One of the most basic lessons of love in Buddhism is finding love for yourself. How much more powerful could we be if we were only acting and talking out of love for ourselves and others? How much stronger would our hope and faith grow if it was cloaked in love?
To the woman who feels she has no hope, I approach you with love; may you feel peace. Perhaps out of the fertile soil of love, you will find something to anchor on for hope.
To the man who is standing strongly on the conviction of his family’s duties, I bring to you and your family conversations of love; may you find strength within their loyalty.
In the sterile hours of being a healthcare provider, I will never grow weary of creating an atmosphere of love that will fuel one’s hope and faith, even if it’s all I have to offer.