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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Wishing and Hoping

During a past conversation with my husband, my father shared a saying often used by my grandpa.  Perhaps you’ve heard it. 

“Wish in one hand, poop in the other.  See which one fills up sooner.”

Recently, I heard my husband trying to re-use the phrase.  Only he inserted the word “hope” instead of “wish”.  Feeling helpful, I tried explaining that there is a difference between wishing and hoping.  Either due to my tendency towards over-zealous explanations or because my husband detests being corrected, my commentary was met with irritability.  Okay, that’s too nice.  He has a habit of shutting down whenever I talk; he responded with overt hostility. 

This got me wondering, though:
How many of us truly understand the difference between wishing and hoping? 

In my dictionary from Brown University,
·         “wish” means
o   (vb) 1: to have a desire for (as something unattainable),
o   2: to give expression to as a wish: BID
o   3 a: to give form to (a wish), b: to express a wish for, c: to request in the form of a wish: ORDER, d: to desire (a person or thing) to be as specified
o   4: to confer (something unwanted) on someone: FOIST
o   (vi) 1: to have a desire: WANT
o   2: to make a wish, syn DESIRE
o   (n) 1 a: an act or instance of wishing or desire: WANT, b: an object of desire: GOAL
o   2 a: an expressed will or desire: MANDATE, b: a request or command couched as a wish
o   3: an invocation of good or evil fortune on someone
o   Synonyms: desire, longing, yearning, hankering, urge, hunger, whim, aspire, crave, prefer, want, covet, fancy (found on synonym dot com).
·         “hope” means
o   (vb) (vi) 1: to cherish a desire with expectation of fulfillment
o   2: TRUST
o   (vt) 1: to long for with expectation of obtainment
o   2: to expect with desire: TRUST syn EXPECT
o   (n) 1: TRUST, RELIANCE
o   2 a: desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment: expectation of fulfillment of success, b: someone or something on which hopes are centered, c: something hoped for
o   Synonyms: dream, ambition, anticipation, aspiration, belief, expectation, faith, goal, optimism, promise, prospect, buoyancy, endurance, reliance, reward, security, cherish, count on, hold, await, trust, be sure of, depend on (found on synonym dot com).

Not long after Pentecost, one of the readings at church was Romans 5:1-5, explaining that “….we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us….”

I had been trying to explain to my husband that he had been misusing the expression.  My grandpa used it to encourage hard work; to imply that a person should do more than just wish for or desire something.  Standing around wanting something doesn’t produce it.  You have to earn it.  My husband was using the phrase as if it isn’t worth dreaming or hoping for anything. 

But true hope is more than desire.  There is a deeper, underlying energy that the person uses to forge ahead and endure until a goal is reached. 

Look at the active words in the definitions of the two words.  When you wish, it is a goal you want someone else to reach—an order, a bid, a mandate, a command, a request.  When you hope, there is trust, reliance, expectation—something to build on, something more personal, more motivating, activating, something that comes from within. 

Wishing is air.  Wishing is waiting.  Wishing is passive.  Wishing is shallow.

Hope is active.  Hope has spark.  Hope empowers.  Hope trusts.


Julie S. Paschold
July 11, 2019