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3 Myths about Hope

"The problem with wagging our fingers at oppressed people who use force in their struggles for freedom is that we're overlooking an important fact: namely, that the force of resistance necessary for their liberation is determined by the severity of the oppression they face. 
The amount of force necessary to liberate oneself from an oppressive power isn't necessitated by those who have the regime's knee on their neck. 
The oppressed can't be blamed when their oppressors refuse to engage with nonviolent actions and diplomatic conversations."
-Andre Henry

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My heart is broken over everything in the news. I'm especially crushed for our siblings of color who don't feel seen or heard.

So where am I finding hope? 

My hope rests in The God Who Sees Us, right in the midst of our despair.

I believe in the God of Hagar, who was sexually assaulted and then beaten by a woman who held power over her. I believe in the God who met this runaway, pregnant, fearful slave in the desert of her own despair.

And I pray those of us with privilege will continue (or begin) to speak up and take action for those who have no power or privilege. 

Can I be real for a minute? 

I'm writing a book about hope. It's almost laughable today.

HOPE.

This book is the hardest damn thing to write, with so many terrible things going on in the world right now.

But also? I'm learning so much about hope. Real hope. Gritty, hard-won hope. And I know that now, more than ever, we are a people in need of great hope. 

Can I share 3 quick myths about hope with you today?

Myth #1: Hope = Optimism

What is hope? Friend, real hope is so much deeper than superficial "wishful thinking" or cherry-picked positivity. Hope believes tomorrow can be better than today, but requires action to MAKE tomorrow better. In fact, Barbara Fredrickson, one of the lead researchers on positive emotions, has identified hope as the only positive emotion motivated by negativity.

Here's what she says, "Hope is not the typical form of positivity that we know of; rather, it comes into play when our circumstances are direā€¦ when fear, hopelessness or despair seem just as likely."

Hope is not optimism or mere wishful thinking. Hope requires an action on your part to MAKE tomorrow better than today.

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Myth #2: Hope is Always Well-Behaved

If you're anything like me, Hope traditionally seemed bright, airy, light, and cheerful. If it had a color, it would be yellow. Hope lived on Easy Street and was everyone's best friend.

But did you know that Hope can result in anger?

Sometimes, we can hope for something so much that the deferment of that hope can send us into outrage. I see this kind of hope when Jesus overturns tables and cracks a whip in the very Temple of God, because his HOPE for God's children wasn't being actualized. Jesus was ANGRY because God's children were being oppressed by those in power.

The hope for freedom sent the American revolutionaries to war. 

And I see something similar in the protests and riots which have filled my newsfeed for the past several days.

Read these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: 

"I have a dream today ... I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."

We HOPE in the One Who Makes All Things Right.

Hope is not always well-behaved. Sometimes deferred hope leads to necessary outrage. And sometimes that outrage is the only way to get anything done.

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Myth #3: Only People with Easy Lives Have Hope

This one is a biggie. 

On his way to meet with the Mayor of Atlanta today, my friend, Rev. Ed Bacon texted me, "You cannot get to hope without going through Lament. Lament often includes both grief and rage. The psalms of lament like 22 always end in hope, trust, and love. But there are no shortcuts."

"You cannot get to hope without going through Lament. Lament often includes both grief and rage. The psalms of lament like 22 always end in hope, trust, and love. But there are no shortcuts." @revedbacon

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These are the things I'm thinking about as I write my second book of the year. It's scheduled to release next Fall.

I don't want to give you 60k words on easy-peasy-light-and-breezy hope. 

This is a book for those of us who know what it means to live in the trenches. This is a book for those of us who have prayed for miracles, only to wonder if Heaven's phone is permanently off the hook. This is a book about the mechanics, science, and theology of hope. I can't wait to share it with you.

As a result, you may have seen that I'm off social media for the next several months. So if you want to stay in touch, you're in the right place. 

And if you want to be a part of my weekly Tuesday calls, click here and join us at 11am CST in the Catching Your Breath Facebook group.

hope to see you there.

By Steve Austin

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.