“Hope is the dream of a man awake,” says a French proverb. Dreams come during our rest time; hope is for our life while awake! While caring for thousands of people over the years, I have learned that health and hope often go together. In fact, hopelessness often precedes and certainly characterizes depression. It is nearly impossible to have joy without hope. Those who lose hope often spiral down, so instilling hope is one of the most important ways we all can help each other.
I recently attended a conference for physicians where one of the panelists was neurosurgeon Ben Carson, the one who separated the first set of Siamese twins in this country. He grew up with an older brother and they were raised by a single mother after their father left them. Ben was such a poor student that his nickname in elementary school was “dummy.” One would have thought he had little hope of success with such a beginning.
Hope is a dream acted upon.
Yet, Ben had a mother who believed in his potential, hoped for the best in his life and acted accordingly. Although she couldn’t read, she had the brothers turn off the TV and made them read books and write reports on them each week. Before long, the brothers grew to love books, and Ben became the best student in his class. It was a remarkable transformation that began with one person believing in him and motivating him.
Ben’s mother also instilled in her children a strong faith in God. He shared his faith boldly with our gathering of doctors and recounted multiple instances where life got tough and he prayed, received guidance from God, and then resolved to do what God led him to do. It was precisely through such a sequence that he came to know, after months of waiting, exactly how to separate the twins. He then gathered a team of more than twenty people who participated in the surgeries and, together, they succeeded – and lives were changed.
Faith fueled his perseverance, which kept his hope for those lives alive. He prayed, he waited patiently, and then he knew what to do.
One day, Dr Carson realized that all his successes came from God working through him, so he made a life-changing declaration. He said, “Lord, from now on, you are the neurosurgeon. I am simply your assistant.” He is now a world-renowned surgeon and operates on hundreds of children each year at Johns Hopkins University.
We all have dreams of what we want to do or become, and dreams are wonderful. But beyond dreaming, we must act in our daily lives in ways that bring us closer to those hopes and dreams. Whether it’s eating a healthier diet, incorporating more activity into a sedentary lifestyle or deciding to forgive someone who hurt us, our choices affect how we feel and our health. What we do matters, and our actions impact not only our lives but those around us. And prayer ignites the hope that keeps us going when our world makes no sense or when, like Ben Carson, we face seemingly impossible challenges.
So, today, look around and see who believes in you and gives you hope. Stay close to them. And look for those who need someone who believes in them. Share your best with them. Hope goes beyond a dream when a person wakes up to the fact that their life has purpose and their choices matter. When we start living with purpose, our outlook changes. Our whole world changes. And that is a hopeful thing!
Dr Mari, © 2011