Keep Hope Alive
Written by: Charneise Alston, M.Ed
Martin Luther King Jr. has greatly influenced and inspired my life since I was a young child. As an elementary school student, I became well versed about his contributions to society. Growing up, my parents could easily find me in my bedroom memorizing his speeches and intently listening to his sermons with great admiration. My mother and grandmother often said that I had an unexplainable love for Martin Luther King Jr. So much so that I would loudly profess, “When I grow up, I am going to be Martin Luther King Jr. and I am going to marry my daddy.” Now that I am older, I understand why everyone chuckled at my boisterous proclamation. Regardless, those two men, very similar in their personalities, dedication, and beliefs, helped cultivate my hope for a better tomorrow.
I recall having a living spring of hope welling from the unlimited supply of optimism in my heart. As with most youngsters, my ability to believe was uncontaminated and limitless. It was not until late adolescence when I discovered the obstacles, hardships, injustices, and misfortunes of life. On my seventeenth birthday, I distinctly remember wanting only one thing for my birthday, a full scholarship to West Chester University. My hope was coupled with credible efforts since I earned a 3.9 gpa and scored a decent rank on my Scholastic Aptitude Test. I was audaciously expecting my hard work to finally pay off as I anticipated an early acceptance letter from West Chester University.
Well, a few weeks after my birthday, I did receive an early acceptance letter but without a full scholarship. I was so devastated and bewildered because I bought into the lie that life was fair. I unwaveringly believed that if you did the work, life would reward your diligence. That was my first, real experience in being blindsided by circumstance. When I walked onto West Chester University’s campus as an incoming freshman, I felt defeated. I even entertained the thought of dropping out of college but the image of my mother’s face was a sober antidote. I mustered all of my strength to push past my disappointments. In fact, that single experience affected the trajectory of my career.
In today’s society, many people are losing hope because of past failures. I believe that hope is the barometer of change. If Martin Luther King Jr. was able to hope for a better future while living in a tumultuous time, surely the life lesson to be learned is that hope fuels faith. The absence of problems depicts hope as whimsically unreal. However, problems, hardships, and turmoil is vividly present in the landscape of hope. See, hope is most vibrant when it is enclosed on all sides by life’s issues.
While the recent government shut down has lasting ramifications that will indeed injure our country’s economy, we must hope in spite of the bureaucratic discord. When sickness unfairly targets you, a friend, or a relative, hope is the energy source for your faith. If unemployment, divorce, or life itself is hindering your vision from seeing light at the end of the tunnel, let hope light the path out of your circumstances.
Are you feeling hopeless? Has life turned you into a pessimist? I used to describe myself as a “realist” until I realized that I was operating on a lower frequency than my creative potential. We have an infinite, creative power to believe. When I am confronted with negative, small-minded opposition, I set my hope to be the thermostat controlling the temperature of my expectations.
As I mature, I am learning that it is my responsibility to keep the embers of my hope burning. External factors should not extinguish our hope but ignite the flame. My hope is a premium, high-octane fuel for my faith. What is the quality of your hope? Your faith’s performance is correlated to the quality of your hope. As we recognize Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, let us remember the quality of his hope. In spite of how bleak the present condition may be, I encourage you to keep hope alive.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
~Martin Luther King Jr.~