I was a bit skeptical when a friend first told me I didn't need an aspirin for my headache. "Drink a glass of water," she said. "You're dehydrated."
I liked to think I was quite open-minded, so I tried it. It worked!
That was a revelation for me, a word of wisdom coming from a young woman who was a runner, before it became popular. She had learned how to take care of her body.
I trusted her and discovered a simple, yet extremely valuable tool. Indulge in a glass of water before I even knew I was thirsty? I was so grateful. What a relief, to prevent my regular headaches instead of treating them with pain medication after they arrived!
I think a lot of people today are suffering with a "hope-ache". Are you one of them? Do you see yourself in the midst of a situation that causes you to lose heart?
A "hopeache" can hurt real bad at first, making it difficult to deal with life. Sometimes it gets to the point when you feel numb, and then you find yourself just going through the motions of living. I would like to offer you a remedy, one that I learned from another friend.
You don't know me, except that you may have read some of my gardening articles and perceived that I truly want to be a helpful resource person. Would you trust me enough to read through this, even if you might be a bit skeptical, as I was with a new idea? Consider it a letter from a friend who has learned to take care of my heart and my spirit, because that is where hope resides.
It really is as simple as drinking a glass of water before you need it.
We all need to take in a drink of encouragement, regularly and frequently.
What do I mean by that? Think about this from the wrong end, the "after-it's-too-late" point. When was the last time you felt discouraged so deeply it stopped you in your tracks?
When you carry such a burden, it seems like you need something drastic to take it away. The worse you feel, the more difficult it is to imagine anything being able to fix it. That's when people grab for anything or anyone to help with the pain, and frequently make poor choices.
In contrast, think about a day when you feel challenged, but not yet overwhelmed. Suddenly your heart is touched by an unexpected gesture. It might be that someone gives you a word of affirmation, extends a kindness, acts considerately instead of selfishly, offers to share or help with your load, or shines a big, beautiful, genuine smile directed just at you.
Doesn't that make a difference? It can be like a runner getting his second wind. A word of encouragement at the right time either makes you stronger or makes the weight of your struggle less. Maybe both.
Encouragement. Have you ever thought about that word? "To put courage in." To put courage into you, so you can carry on!
Isn't that what the movie "BraveHeart" signified? A group of men, an entire nation actually, felt that their situation was hopeless. William Wallace rose up and put courage in all the people of Scotland, leading them to believe they could not only endure, but also throw off the tyranny of an oppressive English tyrant. That is the true beauty of hope.
Hope does not just hang around trying to make us feel comforted, like a nursemaid who can do nothing more than wipe the sweat from the brow of a deathly ill patient.
Hope is powerful.
Hope sees beyond circumstances.
Hope is not swayed by a history of failure.
Hope does not rely on the agreement of the majority.
Hope does not depend upon the absence of fear or of limitations.
Hope is all about what can be... better than the present...
and what will be... above and beyond our best expectations for the future. Hope is grand!
What if you could have that kind of hope?
If you could get a word of encouragement when you're feeling down, that would be good. If you could get a double dose when you're depressed, that would be helpful.
What if you could live each day with hope?
What if you could be filled with hope? Wouldn't that be like the runner who is completely hydrated before the race and prepared to confront heat and exertion?
What if you could stay constantly buoyant in your spirit, and expectant in your heart?
What if you were so equipped to fend off the effects of each stress you encountered that you overflowed and instilled hope in those around you?
Can you imagine such a change in your countenance? Do you dare to believe even a little bit that you might be able to rise above your current level of frustration or resignation?
CAUTION! That is hope peeking through! Can you handle it? Do you dare be so bold as to believe that you can smile in the face of adversity? YOU CAN!
There are a lot of ways to find encouragement. The most important sources are going to be tied to other people. Some of you are blessed with friends and loving family members. Feed off them and their support.
Many of you don't have that, or not when you most need it. Don't let that acknowledgment send you off into despair. Take a look, and a listen, at this opportunity.
One of the greatest potential avenues we have for receiving encouragement is through our ears. And the opposite is just as true. Think how much negativity we can encounter during a single day from the bad news on TV, or insensitive acquaintances, and the inevitable jerks at work!
Many people try to control the input by listening to music almost constantly. Are one of the "ear-bud generation"? Let me challenge all of you to take advantage of a chance to bring hope into your life through music.
I know we all have different tastes in music, and I don't hope to change that. But I do want you to be aware that your choice in music can be "putting in" something hopeful, something harmful, or something neutral = worthless.
I'm at risk here of sounding like I'm in the 1960's saying "Don't listen to that nasty Rock and Roll!" Not the intent at all. I challenge you to consider what is the impact or benefit for you? What do you get from your choice of music?
Is it an escape, a distraction, a motivator, a way to look cool because your want to be like your friends? Does it represent your life, or what you want your life to be?
So, here's the deal.
If you need hope, a little or a lot, then it seems like what you have been listening to does not seem to effectively tap into encouragement or hope.
What if you made a change, at least part of the time, and listened to some music that is positive and encouraging?
I want you to try listening to one of these two radio stations, or both. The variety of music they play may suit you just fine, or may introduce you to new artists that will change your tastes. This music is Christian contemporary.
NO, IT IS NOT WHATEVER NEGATIVE THOUGHT YOU ARE THINKING RIGHT NOW. (Smile!)
It is good music... quality music... and it is full of hope.
So I don't mind if you have something against religion (so do I, quite truthfully). But please don't miss out on a chance to get hope. Listen to some of it before you jump to a conclusion.
Why? Because the majority of people writing and singing these songs have been where you are.
And, while you are stuck, they have moved on to a life full of hope and purpose.
How? By finding a source of hope, one that doesn't fail, and one that doesn't lie or make false promises.
Give it a try. I know you may not want to accept their answer for the meaning behind their life. But what they are singing about has a universal message of hope. You just might be surprised to find something you didn't even know existed.
Listen to K-LOVE, the home of Positive and Encouraging Music.
Hit the LISTEN LIVE button at the top and open your ears and heart for a while. Then check the search box to see if there is a radio station that you can pick up in your area. Listen to the words. Not every song will touch every person. The menu is varied, so give it a chance and listen to several songs or come back several times. http://www.klove.com/
Listen to AIR 1, the Positive Alternative Radio Station.
This is a sister station that has a bit more bold flavor in music styles. So if some of you find K-LOVE too tame, give Air One a listen. Hit the LISTEN LIVE button at the top. Same challenge. Give them a chance. You must listen to more than just a couple of songs. These musicians have talent and they have hope. Give their words a try and you won't be disappointed. That is, if you truly want to rise above the ordinary and live the life you certainly one day had hoped you would know. http://www.air1.com/
As a sidenote, both of these stations are free of advertising, eliminating some of the worst noise we hear from so many sources. Listeners support the programs, which should tell you something about what it offers them.
I hope you do this one thing. Lay down all the pre-conceived notions that you are tied to in the world up to this point, especially your fears and bias and any "know-it-all" attitude. Try something new in the "Buffet of Life".
Look for truth, and when you find it, you will have found hope, and you will be off running a new race with abandon, living a life you love. I hope you do. It is worth it!