In Search of Hope
At the beginning of each year, I like to come up with a word to inspire me—sort of a mantra to focus on for the next twelve months. Last January, I chose courage as my word for 2020. In an effort to explain myself, I wrote in my blog post: “I’m not sure exactly why courage pushed itself to the top of my list, but I’m guessing I’m going to need it.” Why am I suddenly feeling like I possess psychic abilities???
Well, we finally made it to the end of the year that won’t soon be forgotten and have turned the calendar. 2021 has to be one of the most anticipated years ever. Surprisingly, coming up with an inspirational word has been tough. Okay. That’s not exactly true. I’ve had one in mind for several weeks—note it’s almost the end of January and I’m just now posting—but it wasn’t a good one. At least it wasn’t positive. The only word I could think of was uncertainty.
We’ve battled through and missed out on so much this past year. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me the future seems a bit murky. Several months ago, a friend whose husband’s lymphoma had returned for the fourth time shared some words of wisdom. She told me we need to learn to live with uncertainty. I can’t get her advice out of my head. The truth is, much of life is uncertain, and sometimes just plain scary. We are not psychics, and we don’t know what’s coming our way. So, what are we supposed to do?
Dealing with uncertainty has often troubled me. Despite repeating over and over to myself “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30), I still wrestle with fear. Maybe because I’m a planner. I like to have at least a general idea of what’s ahead. Surprise parties and unexpected guests make me cringe. I also like to believe I have some sort of control over my future. To my chagrin, the circumstances of the past year have crushed those ideas like a bag of Doritos stuffed in the bottom of a backpack.
Many people are familiar with the story of Pandora’s Box from Greek mythology. Pandora, the first woman created by the Greek God Zeus, is sent to Earth with all the best attributes and is given a box, which she’s told never to open. Unfortunately, Pandora has a fatal flaw: curiosity. She opens the box, allowing all sorts of horrible things to escape into the world—disease, pain, greed, hatred, etc. Horrified, she slams the box closed, trapping only hope inside. Some interpretations of the myth claim mortals were left without hope by her actions, but others (including me) believe when Pandora captured hope she gave mankind something to cling to in order to survive the evils of the world.
So that’s my word for 2021—HOPE. It’s a powerful weapon against uncertainty, one deserving of capital letters. Without hope, it’s practically impossible to experience joy or make progress. The scriptures describe hope as “an anchor to the soul” (Hebrews 6:19); thus, the anchor, an ancient symbol of safety, became a symbol of hope. A favorite scripture of mine reads, in part: “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God, might with surety hope for a better world…” (Ether 12:4). We can do it. We were not sent here to fail. May we venture forth with renewed hope for peace, good health, and yes, even a better world.