When I was a young girl I once nearly drowned. It was terrifying.
Although I was a strong swimmer I miscalculated the enormity of an approaching wave. I was engulfed by the water mass and I remember the weight of the water pushing me down into the depth of the ocean. I fought and
struggled to find my way up through the water towards the light and most importantly the air that could fill my aching lungs.
I remember the anxiety as I felt my lungs releasing the bit of air that was still within.
The average person can hold their breath for 30 to 60 seconds, and once you run out of breath under water, your chance for survival is slim. I was running out of air. I tried to look up to see sunlight, and then suddenly the weight of the water subsided and for some seemingly inexplicable reason (or so it seemed in the moment), I suddenly had a huge burst of energy, and the will to get out of the predicament emerged. I could feel myself going up faster and with more force. Maybe I could make it. Perhaps I would make it. Clinging to the hope that I would make it! Breaking through the water-ceiling, I at once filled my aching lungs with the gift of air!
This event of near drowning made me reflect on the magic of hope. I realized that hope is to the soul what air is to the lungs.
Without hope, the soul dies a slow and painful death. When people lose hope, they lose their ability to dream for the future.
Despair replaces joy. Fear replaces faith. Anxiety replaces peace. Insecurity replaces confidence. Tomorrow’s dreams are replaced by nightmares.
Without hope, life becomes meaningless. When spouses lose hope, they give up on their marriage. Parents give up on their teens. People give up on their leaders. Healthy emotions like contentment and peace are replaced with the toxic emotions of confusion, shame, worry, and disappointment. HOPE is important! The soul needs hope to survive!
When you have lost hope, When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope.
Twenty six years ago I gave birth to twins, two months premature. My baby daughter and baby son weighed a mere 1.5kg and 1.6kg respectively and their chances of survival were slim. Three days after their birth my precious son passed away. I was devastated.
Yet despite the enormity of my loss and sadness, I started focusing on my baby girl. My whole being became focused on the hope of keeping her alive. The challenges of pumping breast milk, feeding her through a tube, making sure she was warm in order not to lose energy and weight as a result of this, bathing her small fragile body, holding her for hours on end while sitting in a hospital ward from 5am to 11pm at night…. everything I did was in the spirit of hope. Hope that she will survive and that I will be able to keep her guide her through life.
Victor E. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning and concentration camp survivor quotes Frederick Nietzsche: “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
Hope is living in the possibility that all will work out well. Today my daughter is a beautiful strong young woman, a lawyer and a light to all who meet her and a great blessing to her family. “Hope is the magic elixirs that energizes dreams, fuels possibilities, and lets you live beyond the limits of your historical thinking. It is not a promise that something you want will happen – it is an invitation to enjoy the possibility of what you want while you and life negotiate the eventual outcome. There is never a good reason not to hope!” Michael Neill
With hope the impossible actually starts to look possible – think any person who has survived cancer. With hope difficult things begin to look like they might actually be possible – think Nelson Mandela. Courage replaces fear, and strength chases away powerlessness.
“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.” Hal Lindsey
Our beautiful country is currently going through tough times and we have to remind each other daily to not lose hope. In the times that we are living we need hope-givers more than ever before. As South Africans we need to speak of hope and possibilities and then we need to get up and make it work.
“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” Nelson Mandela
I am reminded of the words of Desmond Tutu: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Let us choose to be the light in order to kill the darkness. Let us start breathing hope and start living in the possibility of a great future.