Hope is a Passive Verb


I experienced a moment of synchronicity this past weekend – just as I was typing, “I hope the Ravens win,” a Tweet showed up on my feed about the limitations of the word “hope.” Patrick Brady (@MrMindMiracle) compares “hope” to the word “try,” pointing out the inherent weakness implied by both.

The thought made me pause. I rolled the idea around in my mind for the next few plays (where, I might add, my hope of the Ravens doing well was coming to fruition). “Hope” is a word I frequently use, both in my words and my writing. There are times when hope can be dangerous (as in holding onto the idea that an expired relationship may yet again find footing) and there are times when hope is essential (such as when it keeps us from drowning in despair).

And it’s true, that much like “try,” “hope” is passive. It paints a picture of wishing on a thing and then sitting back waiting for it to occur. And in both cases, action must be paired with intent for anything to happen. Well, other than the Ravens winning. Luckily, they don’t require anything from me to get into the playoffs:)

Hope is an important emotion. It gives us a whisper of possibility when everything feels impossible. It provides the inspiration to take the next breath when we feel as though our world is imploding. It gives permission to trust that despair isn’t permanent and that you can have a better tomorrow.

Hope gives the motivation to keep going even when you can’t yet see the light.

But hope is not enough.

You have to act.

I have hope and I’m not afraid to use it.

The discussion reminded me of a phrase I heard often during my divorce:

Everything happens for a reason.

Whenever that phrase was delivered by some well-meaning person, I would nod and mutter, “yes,” while silently screaming inside. You see, that phrase to me seemed passive. It implied that I should sit back and wait and let the reason for the hell I was enduring be revealed.

And passively waiting was the last thing I wanted to do. My life was actively stolen from me. And I was actively going to make it better.

And I didn’t just hope I could laugh, trust and love again.

I didn’t just hope that one day I could be grateful for my divorce and even for my ex.

I didn’t just hope I could bring purpose to the pain and create good from so much bad.

I knew I could.

And then I made it happen.

Baby step by baby step.

Replace “hope” and “try” with “believe” and “will.”

Don’t just chase your dreams,

Create your dreams.

Make your hope an active verb.

Thank you for sharing!

10 thoughts on “Hope is a Passive Verb

  1. elizabeth2560 – ABOUT ALMOST SPRING Two and a half years ago my 37 year marriage ended suddenly through no choice of my own. I survived the heartache. I have taken control of my present. I am planning my own destiny, which is moving onwards to a life of purpose and meaning. This is my journey.
    elizabeth2560 says:

    I used to cringe at the word ‘hope’ as I always thought I had to make things work, take responsibility for making everything all right. Those people who placed ‘hope’ in anything, to me, was putting blind faith in something. That was until I was thrown into a hole and I realized that I could not fix things. It was then that I had the choice between hope and despair. I chose hope. That was the first step and, while it isn’t an action, it is a positive voice inside that says ‘do not give up’.
    I do agree with your point that then must be followed by plans and actions, but I do now believe that any change towards a better life does begin with hope.

  2. Using “hope” or “try” is something I actively work on eliminating. I used to find myself saying “i will try not to text him back” instead of “i will not text him back”. Now, I may not always succeed, but I much prefer the strong statement – I can’t hide behind “try” anymore and end up being more accountable for my actions this way.

    Great post!!

  3. Very thought provoking. I would say the same thing about my team winning in the playoffs game if I was writing it down. “I hope ___”. But I think there is so much superstition in sports. So for me if I say anything I believe about my team or my “hopes” I also knock on wood. But I’m the person who thinks that if I am watching the game in one room in my house and my team is winning that I shouldn’t leave that room (or vice versa).
    But what is also interesting is that we almost named our third child Hope. And that makes me think.

  4. I think though, we start with hope. As we curl into ourselves for that first round of hurt, through that first bit of healing what shines is hope. Then as the light ‘hope’ shines, we uncurl and start to believe. The rest follows.

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