We’re on to a new year and with it, I’m sure many have taken a deep breath of sweet relief. 2020 is finally over and hopefully its shenanigans are gone with it! Those of us who have been hit with hard times in 2020 look to 2021 and think: “There’s no possible way this year could be any worse!”
Well, don’t jinx us. Please. Just knock on wood RIGHT NOW!
Regardless, whether we’re entering a new year or not, I believe anyone and everyone can find a reason to hope for the days, months, and years ahead (you don’t even have to be religious to find that hope). You could think back to a time someone said a kind word to you that restored some of your faith in humanity. Maybe something big happened to you back in 2020 and that was your anchor through the rest of the year’s nonsense. Hope can even be found in something as simple as the sunrise or a cloud in the shape of a heart.
I started to keep a hope journal of events that gave me hope when I needed it the most. And I like to look back on it every now and then as a reminder that things are going to be okay when I just feel like giving up. I would encourage everyone to keep a hope journal. You don’t have to be a great writer or jot down every little thing that happens to you throughout the day. You only have to write what gives you encouragement. For example, my cousin took a really important test in 2020, and she was very nervous about it. Yet, after she took her test, she was heading back to her car and she spotted a cardinal sitting on it. Now, in my family, cardinals are signs that someone you love in heaven is visiting you, and when she saw that cardinal, she knew our grandfather was visiting her and cheering her on. It gave her hope that she passed the test, and she did.
Now, for me, I started writing a hope journal back in 2019. My very first entry in the journal happened when I was at my grandparents’ condo at the Lake of the Ozarks. Most of the family goes every year and we all hang out, swim, go boating, and play games. Well, it was about the middle of the day, nothing was really going on with the family, so I had some down time. I was sitting on one of the couches with my story journal in my lap. I was trying to write a scene for one of my novels and I was just struggling with it. I kept rereading my scene over and over again and I hated it! The wording didn’t sound right, my handwriting was sloppy, and it didn’t feel like the characters were doing what they would do naturally–it felt forced! I was starting to get frustrated since I didn’t know how to fix it and that led to me wondering what was the point of me trying to write this story? No one was interested in it. If my writing was this bad for this scene, then how bad is it in all the other scenes I’ve written? I was quickly getting caught up in an entangling web of doubt. It felt like I was sinking to the bottom of the lake outside the condo. I just wanted a glimmer of hope, no matter how small.
Then, my godmother walks into the condo with a kid’s meal from McDonald’s. She had the toy from the meal in her hand and she called out to everyone in asking if anyone wanted it. Someone asked what it was and she says it’s some kind of Snoopy toy. Well, my oldest brother loves Snoopy, and I figured he might like it. So, I holler out an: “I’ll take it” and my godmother tossed it over. I took the wrapper off to get a look at it and it’s just a little keychain that leaves the impression of Woodstock on a piece of paper, but I was surprised by the fact that it was Snoopy, sitting on top of his doghouse, with a typewriter in front of him. Every toy has a title, so I grabbed the wrapper to see what this one was called and what I read almost brought me to tears:
Famous Author Snoopy
Famous Author Snoopy! Here I was questioning my merit as an author and this little toy was tossed right in my lap. This was exactly the hope I needed. Call it a coincidence, if you will. Say it’s a sign from God, but reading those three little words freed me from the web of doubt that drowned me. My family didn’t realize what was going. They were just going about making plans and didn’t even notice that I was trying not to cry on that couch. I looked back at my scene–yes, I still hated it, but this was the first time I was writing this scene. My first drafts are always the worst drafts. I could still make something of this: clean it up, figure out my characters, and type it on a computer so it doesn’t look so sloppy. I may not become famous, but I could still be an author like this little Snoopy toy. I still have the toy. It never made it to my oldest brother and it never will. I like to keep it as a reminder of hope and an answered prayer.
So, that’s the kind of things that I keep in my hope journal. Maybe you just want to write something as simple as “New Year, new me.” 2020 strengthened you, challenged you, and now you’re ready for 2021. Whatever it is, I know you can find hope in something and I hope you keep a journal of those somethings, so you can look back at all the blessings you’ve found. Guess it’s kinda similar to that old saying of “count your blessings.” If you focus on what’s good, then you got a weapon against the bad. Whatever happened to you in 2020, you overcame it, and I know 2021 will have lots of good things in store and I pray they’re all blessings and dreams come true. We’re all in this together anyway, so maybe that could be your reason to hope?
If you want, feel free to comment any moments of hope you’ve had for yourself! Post it here, post it on my Facebook post, Twitter, wherever! I’m sure it’ll be encouraging to everyone who reads it. Thanks for taking the time to read this. May your 2021 be full of hope.