“Hope” is a Four-Letter Word

Having spent several days writing this “four-letter word” series, it struck me that there were a lot of negative emotions that got touched on.

How fitting, then, to end with hope.

Hope is what we search for when we feel like our own life circumstances, whether physical or emotional, are going to overwhelm us. Whether it’s the prospect of dying, loss of a job, the end of a relationship, serious illness, disability, or natural disaster, outside events can and do stir up our deepest yearnings for security. We want to feel safe in our own skin, even if the outside world is filled with uncertainty.

There have been plenty of depictions of hope as the light coming into the darkness of a current situation. But if we can’t even turn our head that tiniest fraction of an inch to see that light, then we have no way of seeing the source of hope.

How do we, as healers, help anyone when they become paralyzed by their own circumstances and the emotional responses that prevent action, decision, or motion of any kind?

Usually, it’s simply by standing still. We can want to help someone with all our heart. But until they’re ready to move, there is nothing anyone can do to change that.

We can also throw a lot of words at people when they’re hurting because silence feels inadequate and like a failure. Sometimes, even speaking is too much, demands too much effort. Pain is a profound thing, and if it’s deep enough or pervasive enough or severe enough, often it just makes people shut down. They can’t say anything, let alone listen to anything that’s said to them.

In these situations, despite what we might want to do to make ourselves feel as if we’re having some effect at all, the best thing we can do is be quiet and wait. Even in silence, the fact that you have not left will register, even if it’s not acknowledged. Pain is a lonely place, and even if there is no escaping it (and there usually isn’t, even with drugs), it is comforting beyond words to know that someone has chosen to stand beside you, not expecting or demanding anything at all, just being there.

No matter how long this slience and stillness lasts, if we set aside our own agenda and time frame, we will often witness the re-emergence of hope. We may never understand the causes of pain or be privy to the emotional depths that another human being descended to. But seeing them begin the process of finding their bearings again, seeing their situation through more than the single point that was directly in front of their eyes, that is a gift that will bear lasting fruit and deepen your ability as a healer.

Hope is “HOLDING ON TO THE PROMISE OF THE ETERNAL”. It says that, no matter what our current state, we are not ultimately confined to our physical bodies and existence. We are not bound by the capacity of our mind. We are beings of spirit, an individual for the brief moment in time that constitutes this earthly life, yet an integral part of the limitless universe. We carry it within us always, even though we may temporarily lose sight of it.

At those times, when we can’t seem to find it on our own, we have the gift of one another. Even if we are unable to reach out to someone in our need, there is always someone who will reach out to us, stand by us, carry us when we have no strength to lift ourselves above our emotions, help us stand when we are ready, and encourage us as we take the first steps that will move us further along our path.

These are the people that reassure us by saying, “Just wait … the dawn is coming”. These are the people who, when hope returns, bear witness with us to the sunrise.

Explore posts in the same categories: healing arts, psychology, spirituality

2 Comments on ““Hope” is a Four-Letter Word”

  1. Ted Says:


    for spiriturally enlightened, that maybe, but for most people, HOPE is

    “Hiding One’s Problem Eternally”

  2. halfnotes Says:


    Ha-ha! Didn’t think of that one! I’m sure there are plenty of variations, though.

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