Hope Defined

"...real hope is much more than wishful musing. It stiffens, not slackens, the spiritual spine. Hope is serene, not giddy, eager without being naive, and pleasantly steady without being smug. Hope is realistic anticipation which takes the form of a determination—not only to survive adversity but, moreover, to “endure … well” to the end (D&C 121:8)."
-Elder Neil A. Maxwell

For this infographic I thought triangles was a great way to illustrate how proximate hope vs ultimate hope. Proximate hope has a limit, therefore will come to a point. Ultimate hope on the other hand has the ability to grow and expand.

In my thoughts regarding hopeful things and becoming a more hopeful person, I have discovered not all hope is created equal. Although I feel it is rooted in the same innate desire--just like our desire to be happy--you eventually see a divide in the definition and are left with two "types" of hope. 

The more I study and think about this subject the more strongly I feel its power and how entangled it is with our individual happiness and fulfillment. However, in order for us to discuss how we do that, the two types of hope must be clearly defined. 

Proximate Hope

If you think about it, there is a difference between the hope you feel when you want a certain team to win a game versus the type of hope (or lack thereof) when you consider your purpose and place in life.

After reading Elder Neal A Maxwell's talk "Hope Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ", he defines the former as a "proximate" hope. 

"Our everyday usage of the word hope includes how we "hope" to arrive at a certain destination by a certain time. We "hope" the world economy will improve. We "hope" for the visit of a loved one. Such typify our sincere but proximate hopes."

Essentially, our proximate hopes are based on trivial things and temporal things. Now, the negative side of proximate hope doesn't lie within the fact that they're based on trivial and temporal things. Heaven knows the value I place in hoping to decorate my home or hoping to learn how to plant a garden this spring. In fact, I believe our ability to have these proximate hopes plays a huge part in our ability to find joy in this life. 

The negative aspect of proximate hope is that it has the ability to fail us. It's undependable and contains elements of uncertainty. You're favorite team will eventually lose. Friends and family will inevitably let you down, and frankly, I don't know what to tell ya about the economy, but I don't think it's lookin' good! 

I remember as a young girl, identifying with the character Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. Being someone who had a tendency to get her hopes up way too easily (I think adulthood has managed to mellow me out a bit) I loved Anne's response to Marilla after she calls her out for constantly getting her hopes too high. Anne replied in dramatic fashion, "I know. I can't help flying up on the wings of anticipation. It's as glorious as soaring through a sunset...almost pays for the thud." 

And that's the thing about proximate hope, it's as glorious as it is easy--but there is always the inevitable thud. And unless that thud is backed by another type of hope, it's that failing that can get us into a lot of trouble. 

Aside from the natural and obvious increase in despair, a lack of hope can quickly breed into a selfish "yolo" (I believe thats what the youngsters are calling it these days) sort of lifestyle. About this matter Elder Maxwell said,

"Nevertheless, because proximate hopes are so vulnerable to irony and the unexpected, there is an increasing and profound sense of existential despair in the world.

"When hope is stripped away, Paul noted this tendency for some to eat and drink, reasoning that “for to morrow we die,” driven by the erroneous conclusion that “when a man [is] dead, that [is] the end thereof” (1 Cor. 15:32Alma 30:18)."
"...Viewing life without the prospect of immortality can diminish not only hope but also the sense of personal accountability (see 1 Cor. 15:19Alma 30:18)."

"No wonder the subsequent loss of hope almost inevitably sends selfishness surging as many, resignedly, turn to pleasing themselves. 

The last time I checked, despair and selfishness have never made anyone happy.

Which is why this soaring hope must be rooted. Rooted into something that will not fail us. 

Ultimate Hope 

This is where real hope or what Elder Maxwell refers to as "ultimate" hope comes into play. This type of hope provides the foundation we need to proximate hope because it's placed in someone who will not fail us. 

That someone is Jesus Christ. 

"Ultimate hope is a different matter. It is tied to Jesus and the blessing of the great Atonment, blessings resulting in the universal Resurrection and the precious opportunity provided thereby to us to practice emancipating repentance, making possible what the scriptures call "a perfect brightness of hope" (2Ne. 31:20)...Real hope, therefore, is not associated with things mercurial, but rather with things immortal and eternal!"

Simply put, Jesus Christ is the only being that has ever existed throughout the history of this world who will never let us down. 

Therefore, we don't want to ever let Him down. Hence, a sense of personal accountability is created. 

This increases our desire to be righteous, expands our faith and allows us to see good while enduring the bad, which in turn creates more hope. A cycle that starts from putting our hope in Jesus Christ ends with the creation of more hope.   

Perhaps I'm oversimplifying here. I remember sitting in my Physical Science class in college listening to my professor elaborate on Newton's Law of Gravity. Ok, so what goes up must come down. Pretty sure I got it. In fact--um...duh. I'm also pretty sure if I had been born in the middle of the seventeenth century, I'd like to think I could've come up with that observation and it would be Jasmine's Law of Gravity we'd be studying right now. 

Then my professor throws on the board something that looks like this: F=G(m1m2/r2)+*&{~!@#$}aasdfjlkj and somewhere between all the talk about bodies being directly proportional to masses, I realized maaaybe--just maybe--my Seventeenth Century self wouldn't have been that smart. 

Although, me telling you to "put your hope in Jesus Christ" sounds as simple as "what goes up must come down" in truth the matter at hand is far more phenomenal than that. Bestowing our ulimate hope into a Savior who, helps us become better people all for the sake of our personal happiness--is truly miraculous.

One must realize that lumping hope into one, general idea doesn't work. There are different types--and you must know which type you're aiming for in order to move forward with hope on your side.

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