Loving What Is with Hope and Faith

By Steven Reames, Executive Director, Ada County Medical Society

In a season where many are contemplating and expressing some of the deeper values they hold dearest – such as family, faith, generosity – I have been mulling on this phrase: “But these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” These are words most of us have probably heard at a wedding, but it might seem a bit of a jump to think of them as words that could apply to a medical community. I do think that they could provide us with a lens to look at the challenges healthcare faces as we strive for novel solutions to old and emerging problems.

I will confess that as a future-oriented leader, I can frequently become frustrated with the present reality of a situation. “I’ve got visions, I’ve got plans, I want things to change – NOW!” In fact, I used to have a blog based on a Latin term - conversatio morum – which can be translated to “being open to constant conversion in our life” or more directly as some would put it, “Death to the Status Quo!” The latter most definitely fits my direct communication style, but I also recognize that while change may be inevitable, the kind I am always agitating for seems to happen very slowly.

Whether it is parenting, helping an organization move forward, or trying to create cultural shifts, there is always a tension between the status quo and the possibility of the future. This is where love enters the picture. True, unconditional love accepts others as they are rather than being disappointed with who they are not.

Situationally I could say the same thing and focus on things to be thankful for that are ,rather than being frustrated with what is not, always agitating for transformation. Some would quickly point out that this is the same practice of mindfulness, defined as being “intentionally aware of your thoughts and actions in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

At the same time, we cannot deny some things do need to change and this is where hope enters the picture. This kind of expectation is not the “I hope I win the lottery” brand, where the future is left to mere chance. Instead, it is looking forward to possibilities and pathways that we might not currently be walking on and thinking of ways one might move towards them.

Some people I know people seem to go from moment to moment without purpose; demoralized, dejected, despairing, and rarely lift the head to look above their daily grind. But hope provides fresh breath to our realities, enabling us to envision a different future than the present.

I see faith as the bridge between love and hope, suspended by the tension between the present reality to the potential future. Faced with a chasm between where I am and where I want to be is this footbridge that urges me to take steps over the gap. Thus faith is not just religious dogmas and sentiments, but something which requires action to be faith at all.

Man looking at Unsteady Footbridge

“Waters never part until our feet get wet” is one way of saying that we must begin to make moves towards the future or it will never arrive; This requires great courage and I have to put assurance in what I may not be able to see, measure, or test. But here too, experience has a way of building confidence in us as we journey through various trials: what we have seen happen before that seemed impossible gives us reason to move towards our hopes.

It does seem counter-intuitive to me that loving the present MORE than holding out hope for the future could possibly be greater, if indeed, “the greatest of these is love.” But it does seem to be a truism as I observe people who are able to unconditionally accept a situation as it is, whether it is a wayward child, a crappy job life, or a terminal illness. They do seem to have greater peace than others around them who work frantically trying to problem-solve everything.

I hope as we all move towards a new year, that we pause and take stock of where we are, where we might be instead, and what gives us reason to believe for change where it is necessary. But I hope even more that we can cultivate gratitude that dominates any hopelessness, and that peace and goodwill towards ourselves, and others, will naturally follow.


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