COUNSELOR'S CORNER: The surprise of hope

By Fred Cavaiani

The Lions are 3-0. Unbelievable. Watching the game on Sunday afternoon with my wife and our son, I became aware in a rather animated manner of what had just happened. In the Cavaiani family, the normal peaceful atmosphere becomes quite intense during Lions games. This last Sunday it was even more intense and loud cries of jubilation, unbelievable jubilation, resounded loud and clear. To watch the Detroit Lions come back from a 20-0 score and win the game was like discovering Faith once more. It really became a Surprise of Hope. For years we have hoped for a great Lions team, one that would not fold when the going gets rough. This Sunday, September 25th, that hope was fulfilled. My mind was flooded with memories of how my Cavaiani cousins who have been faithful Lions fans for over fifty years living in Illinois and Wisconsin, must be rejoicing right now. What a Surprise of Hope must be enveloping them.

The journey of hope is difficult. Struggles and defeat happen to each of us. Yet hope for "something better" can always be present. This "something better" is not simply waiting for afterlife or eternal life or heaven. It happens in embracing the present with persistent determination. Hoda Kotb, who hosts the fourth hour of the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford, is a survivor of breast cancer. She lists five principles to put into practice for those who have suffered serious adversity in life. "1) Surround yourself only with people who fill you up. Get rid of the toxic ones. 2) Don't sweat the little stuff--90% of what you worry about won't happen. 3) If you're still standing after surviving an illness or death of a loved one or whatever your cross to bear is, you get four words: You Can't Scare Me. Use them. 4) Don't hog your journey: share it to help others. 5) Allow yourself dark days to stay under the covers, watching Law and Order reruns and eating junk food." In simple terms she is saying stay with positive people, don't take life too seriously, be confident in yourself and have fun. In religious or spiritual terms it means opening our hearts to one another and to a loving, compassionate God. It is again the message of embracing the simple fundamentals of life.

The journey of hope is the journey for all of us. Our biggest struggle is to give up hope which is easy to do at times. We give up hope when we wander from doing what is good for ourselves. When we wander from believing that things can get better and invest in how bad things are, there will never be a "surprise of hope." It will be because when hope is fulfilled we will not accept it or embrace it.

There are probably Lions fans who will find it hard to rejoice in three victories. They may have allowed themselves to be so oriented toward losses that any hope of winning consistently is too fearful. Surprises happen every day and every moment. We can be afraid to discover and embrace them.

On Saturday we met a man who was selling Christmas cards to help children with autism. The Christmas card he was selling was made by his autistic son. He was on a journey of hope and optimism. I admired his determination and willingness to do something to make life better for others. His pro-active stance inspired me after my initial curiosity and hesitation as he started talking to us. He was on a Journey of Hope.

Some people never give up. Another man whom I have known died of cancer this last weekend. Right up to the end he walked in hope and determination to make his life meaningful for others. He had hope in God, faithful commitment to his own personal growth and a determination to always lead an honest and compassionate life even with his own emotional and physical limitations. His life has made a permanent, positive impression upon me. Though he died before his time, his life exemplified a "surprise of hope."

Negativity pervades when our conversations center on defeat and discouragement and what is wrong about the world. To discover hope we need to act with hope and look what is right about our lives and about the world. If we have better ideas, then it is important to promote these hopeful ideas in a positive, loving manner and stay consistent in promoting hope. Eventually the positive conquers the negative. Good news will eventually evaporate bad news. When bad news or defeat and despair are given energy it blocks hope and progress. When it is given no credibility but is confronted consistently by hope and determination the entrance into a fulfilling life begins. Some call this consistent hopeful manner of living the beginning of heaven. Many Lions fans now are beginning to enter a bit of heaven. Some Lions fans are more comfortable with the darkness of despair. It is like life. I think I will choose heaven. What about you?


Fred Cavaiani is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, Sep 27, 2011