I find myself talking about hope often. Sometimes with clients, sometimes with friends and loved ones. A good friend from work asked me a great question a few days ago - what is hope? Not "what gives you hope?" (Meaning optimism) or "in what do you place our hope?" (Meaning trust) or even "for what do you hope? (Meaning desire for an outcome) but a deep look at hope itself. How do we define and understand hope?
Hope is confidence that our desire for some future good will be fulfilled, no matter how messy things get or how difficult it will be to reach that good.
The Christian has hope that he or she will be united with God in heaven. If we follow God's call in our lives faithfully, no matter how weird things get, we'll land well.
Parenting requires a healthy amount of hope. But often feels more like whiteknuckling - holding on for dear life as we cross our fingers and wish that we're not screwing up our kids too badly. But hope, in its fullest form, also needs faith. As parents we want to have hope that the good we desire for our kids is attainable, and we need faith in our decision making that the paths we travel with our children don't lead us off a cliff.
But what if I don't trust my own parenting judgment? What if I have zero confidence in my parenting in general?! What if I really am the worst parent ever?!?!!
If you WERE the worst parent ever, you wouldn't be so worried that you might be the worst or that you were unintentionally screwing up you kids royally. Sure, there are things we can do differently and better (See pretty much every other blog entry on this site) but panicking that we're dreadful parents so much that we spend more time freaking out and less time making positive changes makes no sense.
Take a deep breath. Or three.
Know that you aren't alone. So go find someone to talk to and figure out what are the 1 or 2 things that need to change and what are the 2 or 3 things that are going well.
What are some specific ways we can increase hope? You can think of think of a time that things went better than you expected. You can try to identify something, even if its tiny, that made you feel proud. You can ask someone who you trust to help you think of ways that you’ve grown as a parent or a person. You can pray.
This week, find your reason for hope, no matter how small, and think of ways to strengthen that hope.