New Year, Rewritten Story
Good morning from Westminster, MD!
As the end of 2022 quickly approaches a time of both great hope and great disappointment quickly approaches: the New Year and New Year’s Resolution season. The hope we have for what is possible in the New Year reaches its peak right around now, a day or two before the New Year. We are in “dream mode”, resolute about the changes we will make but without the pressure to actually take the steps they will require. The disappointment reaches its max anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (or maybe even sooner in some cases) as we realize how hard it is to actually realize, or make good on, our resolutions. Disappointment turns into a low-level hopelessness of sorts about our resolution, convincing us change is not actually possible. Does this sound a little too familiar?
While this “failure” may or may not make a big difference in our lives, it is a small taste of what it looks like to be held captive by the lie of hopelessness. We can become defined by the belief that nothing can ever change. While acceptance can be healthy in many situations, it can also be damaging when it is based on a lie. Sadly, this is the experience for many people living in extreme poverty, as well as for those on the outside looking in. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we begin to believe people living in poverty are destined for a life of “less than”, which is only reinforced by the lack of resources available to create long-term change. Just like our failed resolutions, this allows the cycle to perpetuate. Unlike many of our resolutions, the consequences are dire.
However, what if it did not have to be this way? What if the cycle could be broken?
Recently, I wrote about the power of both a real opportunity and a reframed identity. Individually, they are both agents of change but when combined they create a force powerful enough to rewrite even the mostly seemingly hopeless story.
Take the story of Oscar. Oscar lives in Nueva Guinea, a small, rural town on the road from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Similar to many communities in Nicaragua, poverty is pervasive in Nueva Guinea and so is hopelessness. This was Oscar’s story. He worked as a laborer on various farms in the area, making just enough to keep his family alive. Like most of us, Oscar grew up with hopes and dreams, but most of them had been stolen by the lie of hopelessness over the years. Unable to see the possibility for change, Oscar bought into the belief that he and his family were destined by a life of less than. This was continually reinforced by the lack of access to the practical resources necessary to actually move beyond their current circumstances.
Oscar identified with the hopelessness surrounding him, making choices that only dug the hole deeper. All hope appeared to be lost until he had an encounter with real all-in hope. It started with a “chance” meeting with Josh Jaentschke, Field Director for NicaWorks!, and Josh’s dad Ed, a Pastor in the town of Bluefields on the Atlantic coast. Josh and Ed happened to be in town and were introduced to Oscar and his wife Febe by another local pastor. The pastor told Josh and Ed that Oscar and Febe were in desperate need of some hope. Josh and Ed had once be in the same place in their lives so they shared their stories and the real, spiritual hope they encountered in the form of Jesus. The explained that there was a God who loved them and created them on purpose and for a purpose. While Oscar and Febe had heard a similar story before something was different this time. This time it seemed like there might actually be some hope. In that moment, Oscar and Febe saw the possibility of real spiritual hope and a reframed identity through Jesus.
Now with a different perspective on why he was created, Oscar jumped at the real opportunity when it was presented. You see, a month or so after his first encounter with Josh, NicaWorks! was in need of someone to run a new agriculture project in Nueva Guinea. In the past, Oscar might not have seen this as more than another way to keep his family alive. However, with his new, reframed identity, he saw it as the opportunity to thrive. After accepting the role with NicaWorks!, Oscar turned what was a property in disrepair into a project full of much promise for him, his family, and the community. Much like Oscar, the Nueva Guinea property’s story was beginning to be rewritten.
While life is not easy and perfect for Oscar, Febe, and their family, their reframed identities has combined with the real opportunity to begin to write a new story. A story of real, all-in hope that could impact generations to come. This is the combined power of a reframed identity and a real opportunity, or spiritual and practical hope. It turns into all-in hope, which has the power to rewrite even the most hopeless stories. You can read more about Oscar’s story and the power of all-in hope in my recently released book, Hope Realized.
Circling back around, all-in hope has the power to rewrite your story as well. While is a not a quick, self-help solution to your struggles with New Year’s Resolutions, it can change the way you view yourself, your potential, and the world. It has for me. I would say a new story is even better than a New Year’s Resolution.
As we kick-off 2023 in a couple of days, I hope you will the power all-in hope has to create real change, in your life and the world!
Happy New Year!
James a deep message here, defining how Hope can be achieved through faith and hard work. Interesting in this article it still is hard work and setbacks, but faith in one’s direction and God we can move forward.
It is true we dream about change each year, but dreaming is not the answer, striving and working plus the power of God is the only way to achieve what once was a dream.
Thanks, Tom! You are right! Understanding our God-given potential and exercising it is what allows us to move forward.