The Blog

Borrowed Hope -- By Megan D Owen, MAR Pastoral Counseling

Mar 17, 2024

Have you ever heard of this concept? In both counseling and chaplaining, I have the extreme honor of being with people on (often) the worst day of their lives. I can't explain how sacred this feels to me. How do we instill hope in a human who feels hopeless? Or how do we re-direct hope when it is misplaced? Where is the hope for something who is dying? 

I do know that people don't need any more false hopes. Slapping on a spiritually-bypassing comment don't actually give hope. We've all had enough of that. And our feelings stay put. Nothing really changes. 

So, often, when a beloved client tells me they have no hope, I say, "Can you borrow mine?" And very often, my clients say, "What in the world that that mean?" (ha!) So, here we are -- on the concept of borrowing hope.

I believe there are two ways to borrow hope. 

First, I believe in my clients. I believe in survivors. They have fought through the fire in their own homes in the midst of tremendous pain, backlash, stress and (often) becoming a pariah. These are my heroes. My passion surrounding just how much I believe in these amazing humans is palpable. Anyone who knows me knows this! If my client cannot find hope, lean into my exuberance over what I see in you that you may not see, yet. And it is not just me. You can find others who believe in you, too. Hold onto those people -- those are YOUR people! 

Good news here -- it doesn't all fall on your shoulders! At least, it doesn't have to.  We don't always have to muster up some positive sentiment or hope on our own. 

Second, we can borrow hope from others around us. How often do we feel like everything is over for us? Or that we have just lost in life and nothing good can come our way? Or won't? And I can't get what I need from God alone. I know that sounds controversial but . . . . what if part of the reason Jesus came was to show us that we need people? That we don't have to figure it all out and then show up?

What if we can be IN the struggle and borrow hope from other humans? We actually DO need people. God made us for co-regulation. And looking at action can bring hope. People are tired of words and platitudes and meaningless choruses. What are others doing that is kingdom work? 

Are there those around you working for change in our communities or families? What about those who just show up? There is a lot of GOOD ACTION happening and that gives me hope. We can borrow from the incredible stories that are being experienced and shared everywhere. Stories are a very big part of borrowing hope. You can find these stories on non-profit pages, reading memoirs and just -- looking around. There are so many who are willing to listen and come alongside people to hold other's stories. They are survivors who are advocating, getting their hands dirty, helping others heal. They are getting out of bed every morning, even if they don't feel like it. This is hopeful. 

And it gives me hope.

Look for it. It is all around us. Hope flows from other humans (who are made in the image of God). 

Hope is not cheap -- it has to come from deeper places. So often, it is from shared pain. 

People who know pain, give me hope. 

Love, Megan 


From the wonderful Kathy Escobar (from whom I learned this entire concept) on Hope:

You, dear humans, are freaking amazing. 

It makes me cry this morning thinking of all of you beautiful brave people. 

surviving the worst possible things. 

living out your values despite the costs. 

caring for people in so many creative ways. 

fighting for freedom for others and finding it for yourself. 

breaking boundaries that need breaking.

fanning new faith into flame from embers.

healing from deep wounds.

grieving and living at the same time. 

advocating for and embodying change. 

trying to make jacked up systems better. 

practicing love when hate’s so much easier.

rising out of the ashes—literally and figuratively, again and again. 

 May we be tender with ourselves.

May we be tender with others. 

May we be tender with the world.

Hope prevails and humans are incredible.