What would you consider to be the opposite of hope? Well, you could say hopelessness but that's not really a fair answer. So I ask again, what's the opposite of hope?
Hope is one of the main themes of my novel. My main character, Ethan, is on a journey but he's not sure for what. He's lost. You might even say he's hopeless--at least at the beginning of the novel. He's also afraid to even mention hope as one of the things he's searching for.
He's afraid. Hmmm. Is fear the opposite of hope?
According to thesaurus.com, some of the antonyms of hope are: "disbelief, distrust, doubt, fear." Those are some pretty heavy words. Sadly, that's Ethan. Ethan's nightmare in the first few pages of the book is enough to let the reader know Ethan's dealing with fear. And his distrust of people has closed him off to relationships of any kind. He prides himself in self-reliance. It's all pretense.
Ethan is wanting something to change. But what comes before change?
Firstly, he needs to be vulnerable with himself which means honesty--admitting his own mistakes and shortcomings and taking responsibility for his actions. Even in this, there is doubt. But hearing his daughter's voice, he wills himself forward. He also needs to be vulnerable with others--to learn to trust. As a young boy, his mother walked out on him without even a good-bye (She now haunts his dreams). His father drank away his own sorrows, leaving Ethan to fend for himself. Years later, his wife leaves him and he takes on his father's ways. So much pain and heartache. Trusting again seems impossible. And yet, golden rays of hope begin to filter through the rafters of his darkness. Almost unconsciously, he begins to trust in people that just "happen" to enter his life. They become his friends. And despite Ethan's selfish choices, they stick by his side. Ethan begins to trust. To open up. To hope. For Ethan, it's a vulnerable act.
As I shared in part 2 of this 3-part series, asking for help from others is also a vulnerable act. We can't "do" life alone. Ethan tries, unsuccessfully. When his journey takes him far from home, he realizes he's got to ask for help if there's any hope of finding home again. It's not easy. But the more he depends on others, the more they depend on him. And the closer he gets to finding home.
What Ethan learns is that bonds of friendship are strengthened and solidified when he chooses to be vulnerable. And that helps him make good choices. Right choices. Hope-filled choices.
As Jordan Peterson says, "It's hope that drives us forward."
Do you believe that statement to be true?
Being vulnerable with others, and, ultimately, with the Trinity, is not easy. BUT it is SO worth it. Burdens become lighter. The pathway becomes brighter.
Ashes turn into a crown of beauty. Mourning turns into joy. The spirit of despair becomes a garment of praise.
Hope! Hope! There is so much hope!
"Hope is a Vulnerable Act." Ethan must face that truth and decide how to respond.
We all must face that truth and decide how to respond.