How to Find Hope and Wholeness in our Broken World

by | Sep 10, 2023 | Anxiety | 21 comments

There is a lot of heartache in our world, and the smaller the world becomes, the more aware we are of the pain that exists in every corner. Of course, the news loves to report on this pain much more than it reports on the goodness that abounds, but the fact remains that our world has always been a place of hardship, brokenness, and injustice, and today is no different.

Given the pervasiveness of the 24/7 designed-to-light-up-your-amygdala news cycle, we must actively search for hope, otherwise we are likely to become bogged down in despair. We must become hope-hunters, looking for it beneath every blade of grass, beneath every stone, and we must teach our children to do the same. This is one reason why I read the Good News Network regularly, and now my kids do, too.

For goodness is everywhere. And when we see the goodness, when we see the ways in which consciousness is evolving, it naturally leads to hope.

Here are some small examples of hope that I’ve noticed just in the last twenty-four hours:

My 14-year old son and his group of friends went to see Barbie yesterday. The group consists of about ten kids, one of whom is trans, some of whom identify as non-binary, some who are cis-gender. The fact that I’m even writing that sentence is a sign of hope – both that they went to see Barbie and that their friend group is diverse and inclusive.

While my generation still stumbles over pronouns, my sons’ generation doesn’t bat an eye around issues of sexuality and gender. (I’m aware that this isn’t the case in every state or country, and I feel lucky we live in a place where acceptance is expected.) They understand the non-binary nature of gender with fluidity, and I have to assume that this also leads to a greater capacity to understand the non-binary nature of life.

Culturally, we’re extending beyond ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, black and white. This has massive ramifications for our consciousness as humans as we dismantle the hierarchical, patriarchal, competitive, and harmful systems that have informed the human race for four-thousand years.

As I sat outside the theater waiting for it to let out, I watched men of all ages wearing hot pink, light pink, and lavender. This, too, is a sign of hope, for any time we can loosen the stereotypes around what men can and can’t wear for fear of being called out as “weak” (or words that I won’t type here), we are moving in the right direction.

Then, this morning, as my son was doing his homework for his science class, he said, “Hey, I think you would like this. In one of the indigenous cultures in the Bahamas the women had just as much power as men – sometimes even more.” That this is what he’s reading for science class. That we have an increasing awareness of the wisdom in indigenous cultures. That he took the time to share this information with me. Signs of hope.

These are small moments, and I have to slow down to notice them. But they’re important, as they all have reverberating, rippling ramifications into our broader world, and they point to the fact – yes, the fact – that things are changing for the better in many ways.

I’m not a Pollyanna. I’m well aware of the gravity of our situation on this planet. I know enough about the brokenness and atrocities, and I weep for those regularly (which is another way to find wholeness in our broken world – by regularly grieving.) I also give on a practical level however I can.

But I also know and see and feel the goodness. There is a pulsating, unstoppable consciousness that has arisen in the last five years, and it continues to mount and rise. The tides are turning, and we are lucky to be on the planet to witness it.

How do you find hope and wholeness in our broken world? Whatever we water will grow, and when we water hope together, in community, it grows like the gorgeous flower that it is. So share below!

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21 Comments

  1. Aw, thank you, Sheryl! 💗 This is so sweet to my heart. Love 🥰 Jamie

    I recently found hope in reading Bill Gates’ “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” and learning there are so many aspects to improve climate change that I didn’t know about, and that people are actively working on! And the book gave me a much more concrete understanding of the challenges and spurred my curiosity in how I can contribute – that inspired me. And he had an entire section of the book on the importance of reducing the inequality of how climate change impacts people based on wealth and location.

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    • Thank you, Jamie 🥰. That book sounds very interesting. I’m looking it up right now!

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  2. Beautiful post Sheryl. In Australia we are moving towards a referendum on ‘The Voice’. Aboriginal and Indigenous cultures will have a voice in our Constitution (why they haven’t for so long hurts me so much) if we vote yes. There are Yes campaigns and No campaigns, but I said to my sons the other day isn’t it about learning? Having respectful conversations with the original inhabitants of our land and asking what this would mean to them? I want our sons to grow up in a respectful country, full of all cultures, religions and diversity. Our indigenous people have so much knowledge, so much spirit and so much to teach us. We must learn, we must listen, we must find new ways of moving forward. This gives me hope.

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    • Thank you for sharing this, Jo. Your words and what you’re teaching your son touch me deeply.

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  3. The part on the joy of diversity touches on my personal life and experiences in the LGBTIQ community, and I want to bring some other sides to the discussion. Sometimes adopting a new gender identity is an attempt to escape birth sex and the restrictions it casts upon the individual (i.e. being sensitive could be easier if you present as a woman). Transness can be one manifestation of homophobia or misogyny – ”better to be trans and heterosexual than gay” or ”as a woman my voice isn’t heard so I need to become a man to survive”.

    Furthermore, it can be a response to trauma related to the birth sex. If the diversity of identities is the only thing that’s affirmed and celebrated, the deeper issues might go unnoticed. Trauma ranging from personal to societal.

    It should not ever be the case that a woman needs to be a man to escape abuse. It should not be that a man needs to be a woman to be soft and sensitive. And it should not be that being non-binary is the only ticket to diverse expression of one’s being.

    Now I am not saying those kind of situations are always at play, but sometimes they are, and I think it’s essential to cast light on that. At least where I am, those stories from the community get ignored and even shunned. To me that is a huge injustice that further encourages the polarized accepting of only one kind of stories and experiences.

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    • Thank you very much for sharing this perspective, Ani. 🙏🏽

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  4. My heart breaks for the world – Morocco, Ukraine, I still get pangs of grief thinking about Uvalde. Crying, journaling, and prayer doesn’t change what has happened or what bad things will come next. I used to be very reliant on my faith, and now I’m not sure where a God who loves us and cherishes us is in this broken world. How can I move forward?

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    • It’s a common question. I encourage you to seek deeply and continue to wrestle with this very important question until you find some “answers” that feel resonant with you.

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  5. Honestly, right now the thing that comes to mind is that when you are able you can give love and support to someone who has been broken. Like you have the power to BE the hope in wholeness in someone’s world- not in a fixing kind of way, but more like, I’m just gonna love you through your pain.

    I have a friend here in Palmer who was on the city council a few years ago and got recalled for breaking some open meeting rule. Minor infraction at best, and the lawyer who investigated the incident (it was him and a few other members) didn’t even recommend a penalty- merely training on the law in question. But the citizens of Palmer petitioned a recall that went beyond a “political consequence” and into an attack campaign on my friend and the other council members. It negatively affected his health, to the point he wasn’t really eating or sleeping and he started having seizures. Now it’s about a year and half since the recall and he still has to deal with harassment and stuff from people around Palmer- while trying to be a musician and put his art out there.

    I didn’t know him when all that was going on, I met him right after. But now we’re really good friends and I feel like just being someone to talk to and being a supportive friend is hopefully a way I can put hope and wholeness into the world. Sort of in the same vein, stories about love and friendship are the majority of what I write about.

    Also, comedy. I write comedy, I watch comedy, I try to look for silliness wherever I can. I feel like I would just suffocate in darkness if I didn’t try to laugh a little every day.

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    • This is so beautiful and wise, Riley, and how lucky that your friend has you as a friend. YES to comedy!

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      • yes yes yes to comedy!

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        • Here to say that comedy and laughter is my medicine! Not to mention, making others around me laugh. Ditto!

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  6. Thanks for this. I feel it deeply. Sometimes it feels like the state of the world is so awful it’s hard to find any goodness in it. I try to bring joy through my writing and performance but on some days it’s really tough. Constantly checking the news is a big compulsion too – a bit like an addiction – so that certainly has to be kept in check!

    Deeply tied in to this is a fear of death – both my own death, and the death of the planet/society. I am trying to work on strategies for coping with this.

    Thanks again for your lovely blog post.

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    • Thank you, Joshua. I know it can be challenging at times. I encourage you to try an experiment and replace reading bad news with Good News Network for a week and see what shifts inside of you.

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  7. Without hopefully coming off as a toxic optimist, I have found that simply looking for the blessings in negative things helps me. This week was a rough week for my family and me. My mother got some bad medical results back- BUT, as the doctors told her, “This is the ‘best’ worst news we could be giving you.” A blessing. We hit a bull elk on our way driving home from the mountains at night and my husband’s car was totaled- but he, I, and amazingly, the elk were all okay. Not to mention, he realized his insurance is going to cover some of the costs. A blessing. My phone died this past week and a new one will not arrive for some time- an inconvenience but also a forced detox from scrolling! I now have to sit with my emotions. A blessing.

    Not everything in life has a silver lining. There are some things that are just, simply put, bad to have happen to you. So when I encounter “bad things” that DO have a silver lining, I am so very grateful. That is hope to me.

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    • You’re describing a very deep and beautiful spiritual practice of true gratitude, which isn’t just being grateful for good things but expressing gratitude for the opportunity that arises in the face of hard things. Brother David Steindl Rast teaches this aspect of gratitude so beautifully, and it sounds like you’re naturally doing it!

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  8. I’m sorry, I know this has nothing to do with the post above! My relationship anxiety has returned and I am considering the break free course. I can’t seem to shift it this time so I’m thinking, I definately have to break up with him. I just wanted to know if this sounds like ra or a bad relationship.
    I’ve recently been having thoughts about having a child but this is also a huge fear for me. Everytime I think about having a baby with my partner it makes me feel uneasy and I start to get annoyed with things he says, his laugh and jokes. Even though he has been a supportive partner. So I think he is not a good match to have a child with because how can i be with someone who is annoying. Its so confusing and Iam wondering if the course would benefit me. Xx

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    • The course would benefit you, Bea. Anxiety always ramps up on the precipice or in midst of transitions, and the course will help you address it at the root.

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  9. I appreciate you. I’ve done a few of your courses, and I love your work.
    I just can’t agree with this post. Binary, ying and yang….it’s all around us. Light and dark…there must be an opposite otherwise there is no balance. And lack of balance means everything will topple over, either to one side or the other.
    As always, thanks for sharing your stories.

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    • If I may.. I believe Sheryl was referring to our cultural ‘thought binariness’, not to the natural world. Rather, the ‘mental labels’-binary thinking which is destructive to our world. The strongest being “right or wrong”; for ex. in terms of religion – think how destructive things get when people decide their religion is ‘the only right one’. Or even ‘a right way of doing things’. Think of the cold war and ‘capitalism vs communism’ – which is ‘the right one’? Fighting each other instead of realizing that neither is ‘right’ and both bring their own kind of suffering with it, and learning from each other about ‘what works’ in order to find a middle ground where people can freely grow while also being provided for if they can’t.
      The other common one being “it’s either *me* or *you*” in terms of survival or making money. Mutuality not even being considered.
      In order for someone to be ‘right’ someone has to be ‘wrong’, and ‘it had better be you/them’.

      Nobody is disputing that the Earth has two poles, as does every magnet, that there’s ‘up and down’ etc, i.e. that the natural world is full of ‘polarities’. It doesn’t mean our thinking has to be too.. Our collective thinking needs to get less rigid. That ‘compartmentalizing’-thing that our minds/brains have evolved to do to help us survive is getting too constricting and we are starting to realize it’s not in line with the natural state of things at all.

      (This comment will be mocking me the next time I find myself firmly stuck in the “Omg, I’m so right, and you’re wrong! Why don’t you just do the right thing and change your opinion to mine?!” – which happens more frequently than I’d like to admit 🙂 )

      Reply

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