I marvel at the richness of other languages, and the wonderful discovery that sometimes they have various words we don’t have in English. When our daughter, Nicole, came back from her mission to Norway she shared the word, koselig. It’s pronounced koosh-lee and there really isn’t an English counterpart. It means cozy, but more than that. It evokes feelings of comfort, intimacy, contentment, and warmth. It makes you think of hot cocoa, blankets, candles or a crackling fire. Restaurants there which provide cushy seating and woven throws are going for a koselig atmosphere.
American Sign Language (ASL) is not English with visual symbols for our words. It’s a language with its own grammar and distinctions, and is honored as such by universities. A sister in my ward served an ASL mission, is now an ASL instructor, and recently shared three ways to sign “hope.” We’re all familiar with this word, and use it frequently. I hope the store is still open. I hope this is a good movie. I hope you can come to dinner. This kind of hope is a mere wish. We have no idea if our idea will come to fruition, but we hope it will.
The sign is called a “bent five,” where you hold both hands before you and bend the fingers down, almost in a quacking motion. The ASL teacher describes this kind of hope as unstable and wishy-washy.
The second way to sign “hope” is to hold both hands before you, with fingers crossed, as if wishing someone good luck. I hope you catch your flight. I hope I make it on time. I hope we don’t get rained out! This also offers no guarantee, and just expresses a wish for a fortunate outcome.
But the third kind of hope is the one that resonates with people who want to understand Christ, and the Plan of Happiness. It’s indicated by using two fingers on each hand to point forward. These fingers represent two eyes looking forward. It expresses a feeling of expectation, almost a certainty that things will happen. At ChurchofJesusChrist.org, it describes this scriptural kind of hope as “sure, unwavering, and active.”
The sign for this third kind of hope is sturdy and firm. We look forward with faith and trust, eyes fixed upon our goal. We don’t just guess there will be a life after this, we anticipate it with confidence. Moroni said, “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41). This isn’t a “Well, keep your fingers crossed” kind of hope. It’s the hope of faith, a belief that brings calm and peace to our souls.
We don’t just wonder if we can be forgiven, we know Christ atoned for our sins and Heavenly Father is eager to forgive us. We don’t just wish that God will keep his promises, we have faith that he will. As Aaron taught, “If thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.” (Alma 22:16).
Most of us love the way hope is described in 2 Nephi 31:20: “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” A perfect brightness of hope is what we all want. It implies safety and assurance, an unwavering commitment on our part and complete trust that God will fulfill his part.
This doesn’t mean we have to be absolutely perfect to enact these blessings. God knows our weaknesses even better than we know them, and he knows we trip and fall. But if our hearts remain true and we’re honestly striving, we can have every expectation, every hope, that our future is secure.
Hilton’s newest work, A Little Christmas Prayer, is destined to become a Christmas classic. Sometimes it takes a child to raise a village, and this tale teaches anyone, of any faith, the magic of gratitude. All her books and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.