“Water!” demanded my two year old son yesterday morning as I was talking with my Mom on FaceTime. He said it five times, then started almost crying because he wanted to water our geraniums so much. I set the phone down facing my three month old daughter, so my Mom could talk with her while I filled our yellow watering can with water. Then my son and I put water on the dying daffodil leaves (I need to plant those outside), the tiny succulent, the big jungle plant, and then the two pink geraniums with eleven bunches of blossoms. Then my son was happy and started playing with other things, and I could continue my talk with my Mom. Just like watering those flowers consistently (because my son reminds me every day!) brings on blossoms, so choosing to do actions that give hope (even when we don’t feel like it), will grow the hopeful expectations of good in our lives.
I wish I could give you a cup of tea that would immediately fill your heart with hope; alas, there is no such tea (yet!), but I can offer you some thoughts on ways to build up the hope capacity in your heart. We are in hard times right now, and we need to develop our hope muscle more than ever to help our mental health. Here are three ways that can help you build more hope: 1. Connect with People You Love. Talk with your spouse and kids as you take walks, cook meals, and just have lots of time hanging out together. If you live alone (or with others), reach out to your neighbors, friends, and family to see how they are doing. If you have friends that live alone, especially reach out to them to see how they are coping through all of this new kind of isolation and stress. My siblings, Mom, and I have a text message thread going where we send encouraging words, fun pictures of what we are doing with the kids, updates that one of us has heard—and I feel more connected to my family than I have had in a long time! So if you think of a friend or family member you haven’t heard from in a while—reach out and see how they are doing. Use all the wonderful forms of technology that we have to reach out, but also consider writing letters and cards to those who live far away (if you need beautiful cards, check out my Etsy shop full of cards: Trees of Transition Art & Design). Bring hope to others, and you will receive it too. Care well for the people (and / or animals) that you have living with you. For example, this week we took walks outside almost every day. I also made two kinds of muffins, two kinds of soup, granola, and my husband and I worked together to make beef stew—so feed yourself with great food!
2. Connect with Your Community. I am tuning into the local news more than I have before because it is helpful to know what is going on right here, but put limits on it because most of the news is pretty hope-draining right now. Connect with your neighbors—talk to them when you see them outside, check in with older neighbors especially. Yesterday one of our neighbors called us up to see if we wanted a sewing machine! My machine is from the 1950s, so I said, “Sure, I’ll take a newer sewing machine!” Even though I just saw this neighbor for five minutes, it brightened my day to see him and receive this gift he wanted to give us. Pray over your neighbors as you take walks or runs outside.
3. Connect with God. God sees what is happening. He cares for each of us, and will guide our steps if we ask Him for help. Connect with your church and participate in online services—we did that this morning and loved seeing familiar people, singing dear old songs, and hearing an encouraging message of receiving hope and peace from God. The bottom line is that we can’t control the pandemic, but we can control how much hope we receive from God—He wants to give us hope through reading His Word, the Bible, through prayer, and through encouraging times with others, even if it is online right now. There IS hope because Jesus came to earth because He loved us, died, rose again, and now lives with His father in heaven and He is praying for all of us right now.
We sing the song, “Jesus Loves Me” around our house a lot these days, and it rings true for everyone, not just kids, because all of us need the reminder right now that we are loved. Psalm 91 from the Bible has been helping me a lot too—these words that God said to King David (but that can apply to any of us): “Because he loves me, “ says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Verses 14-16 of Psalm 91 NIV Bible. Psalm 91 is a great passage to pray through these days.
Choose to have hope from connecting with God, your community, and people you love. We are going to make it through this pandemic. This morning I did not want to be up yet, but both kids were awake. Then I looked out our bathroom window and the morning light with the branches of our trees waving in the breeze gave me more hope—to just keep going. You can do the same! Look up at the blue sky or a tree near you and choose hope.
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Thank you again, and peace to you and your family!