Over the last couple of days I have had a lot of time to think about Hope. Recently a close friend of mine developed a brain aneurysm and is currently in intensive care at a local hospital. This person may be dying, we aren’t sure yet. The issue of hope is coming up frequently and in my role as a Director of Recovery, as clergy and as a part of my personal life, I find myself returning to it frequently.
Last night, in discussions with a family member I became aware of two other values that are necessary to change: Faith and Acceptance. I believe that Hope is powered by Faith…Faith in the God of our understanding; Faith in our selves; Faith in those around us; Faith in systems of care.
How much faith does it take to power Hope? Not much. In some cases very little. And yet the changes we see as a result of this little bit of Faith are sometimes miraculous to behold. Unfortunately some of us have become so cynical that we do not believe in miracles. I would propose that the reality of miracles has much more to do with our expectations than it does with real change. In the world of recovery from mental illness many of us have seen the changes that arise from having just enough Faith to encourage others to Hope. In the years I have worked in mental health I have seen these kinds of “miracles” and yet my own cynicism has caused me to downgrade these changes to intellectual concepts rather than acknowledging the great spiritual metamorphosis that many of us have seen in those recovering from mental illness.
Unfortunately, we have relegated spirituality to one of 10 Components that SAMHSA has proposed are the basis for recovery. I cannot help but believe that Recovery is primarily spiritual in nature and that the other components only become useful as a result of spiritual change.
I am not necessarily talking about the spirituality of organized religion, although that has its place. I am talking about the spirituality that occurs in all of us a result of being born into the human race. When I look at treatment models, such as the Peer Movement I see spirituality at its’ core. It is a form of spirituality that lives in Peers and thrives in love and a desire to help others, and it only takes a little bit of Faith to accomplish that. That little bit of Faith tells us that forces beyond our understanding have given us something that we can share with others to help them change their lives in miraculous ways.
So what role does Acceptance play? Acceptance strengthens Faith. So, if Faith is a key to Hope, than Acceptance bolsters and shores up our Faith so that we can keep passing on the message of Recovery to those who need it. Acceptance allows us to dialogue with ourselves: Well this thing didn’t work with this person, but there is something else that will. I just have to find it”.; “this person took a step backwards, but I know I can help her take two forward”.
With enough of this kind of thinking Hope and Faith can be extremely powerful, but we must be willing to Accept the will of a Higher Power in the process. This form of Acceptance allows us to change the way we do things.
These are only my thoughts, but I’m sticking by them.
“I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.” Lone Man (Isna-la-weca) Teton Lakota