Hope is such a powerful thing. Just thinking about it instills me with even more hope. We can have hope for the future and hope that good will come out of our past.

I entered a 28 day rehab in December of 1989 to get sober for the first time. There were a few relapses after that before I quit drinking for good. One saying that my rehab counselor told me had a significant impact on me and still does today. He said, “Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens.”

There was a tradition there that each therapy group would give a “Candle of Hope” to the member who had come there in the worst shape, but who had made the most progress. My group chose me. I still have that candle holder they gave me and I light the candle at various meaningful times in my life.

When I attended an auction in the country early in my sobriety, a beanie baby named “Hope Bear” came up for bid. There was a tie between me and another lady who wanted to give it to her young daughter. She asked me why I wanted it and I explained that I was a recovering alcoholic and it would help me have hope that I could make it. She said, “Oh, you can have it. I can always get another one for my daughter.” That lady’s kindness was such a blessing to me and I still have the bear as a reminder of hope.

In 2001 I thought of the acronym for HOPE of Heart-Oriented Personal Empowerment or Healing Ourselves through Personal Empowerment. I wanted to start a business by one of those names, offering Reiki/Energy Healing, Guided Imagery, and Aromatherapy. I have taken Reiki II and part of the Master’s level. I also took classes back then in Guided Imagery, Aromatherapy, Meditation, Spiritual Healing, and Addictions Counseling. I don’t have certifications except for Reiki and a certificate of completion for the Addictions classes. I’m not a therapist, but I wanted to help people with what the 12 Step Programs call my “experience, strength, and hope.”

That idea went by the wayside as I let self doubt, amongst other things, keep me from pursuing it. What credentials did I really have? How could I prove that energy healing is real and possible for some conditions when energy is invisible? Maybe the acronyms for HOPE were just for my benefit and encouragement. Anyway, if this were my life purpose, how in the world could I charge money and make a living from it?

Today as I thought half joking that I would like to be a “Professional Encourager,” another acronym came to mind. HOPE–Healing Ourselves (or Others) through Personal Encouragement. That’s what I want to be…an encourager, like Barnabas in the New Testament, whose name means son of encouragement. I want to place courage in the hearts of others who, like me, need to dare to be themselves and go after their dreams.

Maybe there is still hope for HOPE. Which acronym would you choose and would you support someone who wants to encourage your heart? Whatever happens, I have been blessed by these ideas and by hope itself and I am deeply grateful for this gift on the journey.