Category Archives: hope

Expectations are Hope in Disguise

I recently had an opportunity to experience suffering. The kind where you sometimes sit on your shower floor and cry, hoping the constant stream of water from above will somehow dilute the salty rivers on your face (and where nobody can hear you or see the snot that has also formed some sort of waterfall over your lip). Yeah, that kind of sadness. Suffering.

So much has been said in recent years about how expectations are the root cause of suffering. Hmmm. I’d always agreed with that. (Well, accepted it without challenging it is probably more accurate.) But these bouts in the shower gave me cause to pause. And guess what? I disagree. (Not that that should come as a surprise to most of you. lol)

My new thought:

I don’t think it’s wrong to have expectations.

Actually, I think it’s hope for humanity’s future to hold expectations of one another. I expect people to be kind, respectful, and compassionate, and act in a way that is in accordance with that. For me, these are some of the highest values of basic humanity. To expect less than these basics almost feels like I’m letting my fellow humans down – like I’m saying: “I don’t believe in you.”

So why is there a plethora of writing linking expectations and suffering? Well, suffering comes when I form an emotional attachment to the outcome of my expectations, to the decisions and/or actions of others. Attachment is quite different than expectation, because it involves control. And, if we’re honest, attachments, in their essence, are actually judgments. (And we all know about judgments, right? – if you don’t know what I’m saying, check out my spooky Halloween post.)

What, then, are attachments? Bottom line:

Attachments are attempts at control based in fear, and they’re unhealthy.

In my opinion, they are the root cause of emotional suffering. So many things can grow out of attachment that you probably don’t realize. Things like: low self-worth, low self-esteem, anger, frustration, disappointment, despair, disregard, are all products of attachment. If I were to attach an emotional investment (my happiness) in a fellow human behaving a certain way, boy would I be in trouble!

Trying to control things that are not mine will ALWAYS create opportunities for suffering, and control is a form of attachment. (Not to mention being a sign of disrespect toward someone else.)

Healthy expectations are an integral part of any relationship. They allow us to hold one another in high esteem, and challenge ourselves and each other to be the best we can be. Expectations are like little pompoms of encouragement waving wildly on the sidelines of the game of life. They help us identify what’s possible and feel supported in getting there. Attachments, meanwhile, derail us from our own truth and knowing, like the really loud fans from an opposing team trying to distract us from our purpose.

Expectations, therefore, are an expression of hope. And hope is always a good thing.

Hold on to Hope

Making Sense of the Senseless. We’ve all tried. On the news each night – whether you are watching local, national or international – we all hear of tragedies that make no sense. A suicide bombing here, an earthquake there, mudslides, shootings, fires, falls. It seems that every day, humanity experiences senseless acts of violence, nature and tragedy. And yet, we continue on.

The majority of us go to bed each night and wake up each morning with a new day filled with new opportunities to experience, learn, feel and grow. We watch, listen and experience our world around us as we celebrate milestones together, such as birthdays and anniversaries. But what do we do when the senseless hits home?

Most of us are lucky enough to go through life without experiencing the tragedy of a suicide bombing in our neighborhood, or a drive-by shooting. Those incidents are few and far between, though their prevalence on the media makes it seem like they are occurring everywhere. Truth be told, they are but a small percentage of the overall experiences of the human population. But they are tragedies nonetheless, that collectively affect our human psyche. So, what happens when tragedy – senseless tragedy – becomes personal? What happens when the nightly news story is about someone you know?

I recently had this experience for the first time in my life, and it is surreal. Nothing can prepare you for a senseless tragedy. Nothing. And in the end, you’re left with questions and memories. Eventually, the memories take over, but in the beginning the questions are most prevalent: Why? How? What for? I’m now paraphrasing my cousin Jerry, a priest, who conducted the funeral and memorial service for this tragedy. And I am more than honored to be able to share his words with you. Because their wisdom is so pure and simple. Here’s, generally, what he said:

How can we answer these questions? We can’t. There are no answers, and there never will be. What we have – what we always have – is hope. So hold on to hope.

And he’s right. Regardless of what religion, spirituality or beliefs you hold – there is always hope. Hope for mending a broken heart, hope for reincarnation, hope for a cure. The list goes on and on. Without hope, our world would be pretty dark.

Hope wakes us up in the morning after an hour of nightly news filled with tragedy and fear, mixed among the blessings and celebrations. Hope allows us to sleep at night, knowing that tomorrow is a new day, with new life and new opportunities.

“Hope,” (to quote ‘The Preacher’s Wife’), “is all a prayer is.”

So – how do we make sense of the senseless? We don’t. But with hope, we can move forward into our future, honoring our memories, and living each day anew. Hold on to Hope. You’ll be glad you did.