Please welcome a dear friend and our guest blogger, Bill Groves, M.Div.! Bill received his B.S. in Psychology from St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, then completed four years post graduate work in theology, counseling, and pastoral studies at St. Francis School of Pastoral Ministry in Milwaukee where he earned his M.Div. Bill was ordained a Catholic Priest in 1980 and continued in that for ten years in Colorado, working almost exclusively with people of Native American and Hispanic culture. In 1990, he left active priesthood and began working in his home state of Oklahoma as a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. He is currently and happily the Office Manager of The Spiritual Light Center in Franklin, NC, where he has lived since 2012. We think you will enjoy his perspective.
What is it about this time of year that turns our hearts to hope? I mean, really… I look outside and I still see a gray sky and utterly barren trees. And yet, at the first sight of a little dandelion poking its sunny, yellow little head out of the decaying leaves all of a sudden my heart leaps with visions of the spring to come. It’s like the cold breeze suddenly feels warmer!
By far one of my favorite written passages about hope comes from the New Testament. I find it thoroughly profound in many ways. In Hebrews 11 Paul is recorded as saying “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” For me, that summarized the teaching of New Thought spirituality. To phrase it only slightly differently, “Our firm belief is what causes the manifestation of that for which we hope. It provides the clear evidence on a physical plane of that which we cannot yet see.” The brilliance of Dr. Ernest Holmes has some very old, deep roots.
The manifestation of what we hope for is rooted in firmly believing that what we do not yet physically see, what we desire, is “seen” as evidenced, visualized, before us. Receiving what we need is based on focusing our thought on the substance, the evidence by faith, of what we require. Effective treatments (or prayer) are not achieved by pleading hopelessly as we focus on our lack. Law of Attraction 101.
So why doesn’t the Law of Attraction work for everybody? Some folks tell me they’re really praying and what they seek isn’t materializing. Clear failure of the Universal Laws. I don’t think so! It is my personal belief, and hardly farfetched, that the unconditional love and provision of God is a universal Source, not a particular, fickle response to the individual or their assumed worthiness. The Sun shines equally on everyone. The fact, I believe, is that we DO get what we hope for. Hope and belief are always substantiated and evidenced in everyone’s life. Unfortunately, in some people’s lives, hope has been corrupted or derailed by past experience we don’t let go of.
Our first and most foundational experience of building hope, faith, and trust that we will receive what we need occurs when we are children and dependent on our parents or guardians. If we perceived that the people we relied on could not be trusted to provide our basic needs (emotional, personal safety, stability, fairness, respect, etc) then it would have been likely for us to spiral into a pattern of unbelief, refusing to trust or hope that we should trust and hope. We’d just get hurt and disappointed again. This can lead to bitterness over time. Some caught in this trap might batten down our emotional doors and develop characteristics that appear harsh, negative or abrasive. We can even manifest self-fulfilling prophecies of failure and loss to reinforce the untrustworthy world view we have become accustomed to. What we want, hope for, or expect may not be the good stuff. And that’s what we get.
If we are on a spiritual path of any sort we will eventually become aware of these self-defeating traits and begin to work on them. There’s almost always a very sensitive person beneath that armor or the armor wouldn’t have been crafted in the first place. However, becoming more socially and personally open does not immediately heal the inner core of having lost our ability to hope. That requires diving more deeply into the wound and opening to the Universe.
Hope is not just hoping “for something”. Hope is a state of being; a state that is sadly lacking in our world of instant media blasting us with “evidence” that we should be afraid. It seems clear, at least to me, that the opposite of hope is not the lack of hope. The opposite of hope is fear. Simply because we put on a tough persona doesn’t mean we are fearless. Hardly! That tough persona is the clearest evidence of fear. Just like I would remove a suit of armor piece by piece, I can only let down my guard of fears a little bit at a time. If I have been wise enough to surround myself with supportive people and I let those defenses down in a safe environment, I will slowly learn that the “war” is over and I can begin to hope and trust again. It’s not so much that I am hoping in something particular. It is more that I am opening myself to the ability to hope, allowing myself to dwell in a state of hopefulness.
OK, now back to the Law of Attraction for a moment. Why does it fail so miserably for some people?? Well, of course it doesn’t. We get what we hope for. It is always true that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Just like the unconditional Love of God and the Law of Attraction, these things are unwaveringly, equally true for every eternal soul in existence. Just like our Creator, they cannot fail. What can fail is our ability to hope. It may have been wounded long ago, or not so long ago. It is that wound, most certainly rooted in fear, that must be lifted up to the Source of Love. That Love alone can heal us. Love casts out all fear. As I stand in the light of love, fear evaporates. It is no longer needed. I will no longer perceive fear.
On Sunday, April 1, we celebrate Easter. Due to my own religious background Easter is for me a riotous celebration of Hope. Not accidentally, Easter is always celebrated in the spring, the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. It is Life overcoming the cycle of Death. Alright, so what if when I look out the window I still see a gray and barren winter? In my faith I see the substance of spring hoped for. What is not yet seen is evidenced in my heart, and because of this I am able to walk in an Eternal Spring, the very state of Resurrection. It is not a single, isolated event. Hope and Resurrection are a way of life because I choose to see it and live it. My youth was hardly all roses growing up a gay addict in the Oklahoma ‘50’s. Not a cake walk. But I do NOT choose to remain there. It is my decision to live in the light and freedom of Hope. Because of this I see around me the substance and evidence of life and joy. That is resurrection, and I don’t chose to die again.