Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
This quote from Maya Angelou, poet, author, and titan of American literature, encapsulates the essence of hope. In seemingly dark and challenging times for our communities and families, for our society, and in our own, searching hearts, we can feel the nagging temptation of despair. But what Angelou writes to us here is a reminder that the ending of the story — your story — has not been written. You have agency. A different future is possible for you and the world we all live in. Every hour and every day offers an opportunity to rewrite the story, to redirect the path of the journey.
I talked with Dr. Johnny Williamson, Timberline Knolls’ Medical Director, on a recent Instagram Live interview, about why hope is important — especially now — and what makes him hopeful.
“I see hope everywhere. … Hope helps us deal with a difficult past, a difficult present, and it helps us envision a different, more positive, beautiful future. It gives us the motivation to work toward that.”
What both Angelou and Dr. Williamson emphasize here about hope is that it is a conscious choice in the face of fear and adversity. Angelou actually writes it as a command: “Lift your hearts.” She didn’t write, “Let your heart be lifted,” or, “Sit there until you feel like your heart is lifted.” It is an action: “Lift.” A conscious choice. And it is a choice based on the reality that each hour, as she says, “… holds new chances / For new beginnings.”
This is an uplifting meditation. We can choose regret and anger about the past. We can wallow in the misery of the moment. Or instead, holding these things, we can use their power to help us shape something better than what has come before — both in our own lives and for the next generation.
Hope, Dr. Williamson points out, is the great motivator. It is why we’ve been inspired by great leaders and visionaries throughout history — they did not back down in fear in the face of despair and challenging times. They met seemingly unbearable circumstances and unbreakable walls with courage, dignity, and relentless hope, believing that their message would bear fruit — even if not for many years to come. Dr. Williamson also mentioned that hope must persevere — our recovery journey, and any positive change we seek, takes time.
It takes courage to keep hoping. It takes a determined rejection of cynicism to persevere when others tell you (or you tell yourself) you can’t change, or things can’t change. Reject the lies and lift up your heart. Motivated by hope, keep placing one foot in front of the other, celebrating every victory, practicing gratitude, and keeping the focus on the future hope of victory.
In recovery, and in the many challenges we face, we will emerge victorious if we stoke the burning flame of hope with gratitude, with grace, and with vision. A vision that can be reborn and redefined with each passing hour. It is never too late, you’re never too far gone, and it is never so bad that there is not hope to create a better, “more positive, beautiful future,” in the words of Dr. Williamson. Hope is alive because we are alive — breathing, fighting, listening, and dreaming.
So, remain. Stand firm. Lift your heart.
Hope is everywhere.