It’s a simple enough question, but one I find most people are at a loss to answer, or at least uncomfortable considering. I sometimes hear people hope for good weather for an event or a trip, or a sports victory, or even a good parking space at the mall. I rarely hear people hope for anything large or having substance, as if to do so is a voodoo curse.
So, no holds barred, what would you hope for if there were no restrictions, no limits? Health, the perfect job, a comfortable home, an opportunity to travel the world? I challenge you to take a deep breath, exhale, close your eyes, and try this exercise. Try to remember the very best, most magical day of your life. What was it like? Who was with you? Where were you? What were you doing? Remember the sounds, the smells, the flavor of each moment as you relive these memories in your mind and being. Cherish each smile, each reflection, each thought as you recall each detail. What did that experience feel like?
Now, keep your eyes closed, take another deep breath, and exhale. Imagine that tomorrow is all yours. You have the opportunity to create a perfect day, just the way you would like it. No one else creating your life or calling the shots. No one laying claims on any of your time. No financial restrictions. What would you do with tomorrow? Would you get up early to watch the sunrise? Take a quick trip to the seashore? Clean out your closets? Plant a new flowerbed in your front yard? Read a favorite book? Fly to New Orleans for a stroll down Bourbon Street? Work a few hours at a soup kitchen before taking off for the opera in New York?
Open your eyes and jot down everything you might like to do. There’s no point in pretending you can’t do everything on that list because you can. Not necessarily all in one day, but there is no reason to believe that the desires of our hearts cannot be realized. The first step is to practice hoping in concrete forms. Small, medium, or large hopes are an integral part of the foundation of our faith and our lives. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God’s Word is hope, and our imagining this hope alive is the first step to making this hope, our desires, and God’s desires for us and the world manifest.
Hope small, hope medium, hope large. Hope often. Keep a hope journal and see what comes of actually believing that God hopes with us. Live your hopes and see what that does to shape your life.