The battle between living from a place of fear versus living from a place of love has challenged me over the years. After thinking I had it defeated - it's back. There is seemingly so much to be fearful of and my mind slips into the endless loop of playing out worst case scenarios before I realize what's happening. Then I remember what my life looks like when I react out of fear - there is constant anxiety and stress. I can't go there right now.
I know that it is as simple (and as complicated) as making a choice. A choice to stay hopeful. A choice to seek out truth. A choice to see love in people and their actions. A choice to live and act from a place of love. A choice to refrain from judging, others and myself. A choice to do my best.
Choosing hope allows me to find peace with the unknown. I believe hope is optimism in spite of how things may seem in a particular moment. Hope is welcoming the future with open arms - no matter what that future may hold. Hope is outside my window as we welcome spring. There’s a church in my community called “Hope City” - I long to go there and soak up all of the hope they have to offer.
Your Journey to Hope
- You are doing the best you can. And so is the rest of the world. I fully believe each of us, with the tools we have and where we are in life, are absolutely doing our best. Start there and refrain from judging what you perceive to be going on with friends and neighbors. Appearances are deceiving. When we are looking out our window judging each other that usually means we are sitting in self judgement too. What that is - is exhausting and terrifying.
- Be generous with your thoughts and actions. Think the best of people and their actions. Forgive yourself for what you are or aren't doing. There’s a lot of processing and adapting going on. For most of us our lives have gone from speeds of as fast as possible to a complete stop. Give yourselves and others a bit of grace and compassion as we adjust. Be especially generous and kind to yourself. How are you holding up? How are you coping? Start there. And then reach out to loved ones.
- Acknowledge fear, uncertainty and loss. Allow feelings to move through you without judgement.Cry when you feel like it. Sometimes when I know I need a good cry - I watch a movie that brings on the tears - then I cry about everything all at once. And I feel so much better. Sometimes I worry once I start crying, I won’t be able to stop, then I deny myself a good cry. I think we all need a good cry right now. I promise you - you will be able to stop crying. And if you don’t - seek out a professional for help or talk to a trusted friend.
- Don’t diminish what you’re feeling. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t allow myself to feel bad because there are people out there who have things much worse. When you’re experiencing emotions refrain from thinking to yourself “I shouldn’t feel this way. Other people have it worse.” That may be true, but do not diminish what you are feeling. Don’t reduce your feelings for any reason. You deserve (and need) to express yourself. If you don’t, you will hold onto those feelings in your body, mind and heart. You will end up expressing your feelings sooner or later. You and I both know it’s usually at the wrong time and in the wrong way.
- Do what you can to help. If all you can do is practice social distancing and stay home - that is enough. If you have time or money to commit to helping in another way, do it. I’ve noticed when I take action, I feel less helpless, and then I feel better mentally, physically and emotionally. I created our Retreat at Home program in direct response to canceling in person retreats. The simple act of hosting virtual retreats every weekend allows me to feel like I am doing something to help. And doing is more productive and satisfying then sitting around and worrying.
- Re-imagine your life. What will your life look like when this is done. I’ve always found letting go of things makes room for possibility. I believe this is especially true now. I’ve found even memories can hold me back. I’m not saying never have a fond memory ever again. But as we move into a new reality, open your mind and heart to something new. We have been given an opportunity to build our lives -almost from the ground up. What will you keep? What will you let go? How will you move forward?
We must give ourselves permission to feel what we’re feeling without boundaries or limitations. I believe that’s the first step to moving through this. Then we must choose - love or fear. Take a deep breath and remember the place of love that resides within you. And withing all of us. Let’s find our connection to love and to each other and take this journey of hope together.