Monday, June 1, 2009

Hope for Rheumatoid Arthritis in a Spray Can

Hope, the noun, is like oxygen. Hope, the verb, is like breathing.

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis requires hope. Of course, we hope for a cure. We hope that the medicine will work. We hope the doctor will listen. We hope that the insurance covers our tests. We hope people will understand when we can’t do what they expect us to do. How are we going to get this much hope?

A couple weeks ago, I read this blog on hope and it really got me thinking. I totally agreed that hope is essential. In fact, it is like oxygen; we need it to go on. That’s unmistakable.

But I kept thinking, how do we get it - and keep it. Why do some seem to have more of it? Sometimes, I wish I could buy hope in a spray can. That way I could spray it like air freshener as I walk through the world.

After wrestling with it, I realized that hope is not only a noun, but also a verb. The thing “hope” is what we pursue. We all want to have plenty of it and never run out. We’d like to have enough to share. When we are compassionate, we give out some of it to one another. Or God can give it directly to us.

However, hope, the verb, is harder to nail down. We say, “I hope things will change,” and we are trying to will it to be so. We strain towards that goal. Indeed, hoping is something to do. We can either do it or not.

When we do it, it is a choice to do it. It may not be a conscious choice usually, but still it’s a choice - like how much ice cream to eat or whether to wear a seatbelt. There are some things which we can do both deliberately and automatically, like breathing. Hope, the verb, is like that.

If hoping is hard to do, maybe we can get better at with practice - like speaking French or decorating cakes or playing tennis. It’s like a muscle which needs to be exercised so that it can grow stronger. That’s what we are doing when we practice hope against heavy odds; we are weightlifting. When we have to keep on doing it and it seems no end is in sight, we are wait-lifting, too.

If we exercise our hope muscle, we may get really good at it. Then, folks will wonder why we have so much more of it than other people seem to have. “That’s okay,” you can say, “I am willing to share the fresh air. My spray can is full. Breathe in deeply.”

Holly's article on Hope at Health Central

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