The depth that loss can extend to—or even the anticipation of loss—is a cold shadow. It doesn’t make you feel good about anything that it casts its reach to, including yourself. And the depth to which loss casts a shadow, also doesn’t allow us to see hope. Any hope, in fact.
I will say 100 times to 1, I am better at communicating on a page, then I will ever be with my mouth (positives and negatives, obviously). But a part of this is also because once I start writing something down—at least to share—I’ve processed through it.
And let’s talk about process: Sometimes it feels like someone’s not only taking the skin off your body, but also like boulders have been shoved into your throat and arms and heart. You're being stretched and hard-pressed. It feels overwhelming. It feels...wait for it...hopeless. And it’s important to acknowledge this feeling.
But let me share a phrase that tells the biggest lie to every person I’ve ever loved, and will love: There is no hope for you.
Saying that something is hopeless digs a hole deeper than you’ll ever want; and living like something is hopeless—well that’s even worse. Because of the rocks and the displaced skin and the hurt.
But let’s move past the “process” part and talk about actually living your life. There is TRUTH that you must always learn to swallow, even when tears cover your eyes and air can’t make its way through your throat.
There is so much beauty in life. Even when you feel tired, abandoned, lost, afraid, hopeless.
And you must name those lies; the ones that steal beauty from your life—my friend Anneke Stremler said this is necessary, and I trust her because she is of Dutch descent (and loves the Lord).
Name your lies.
Because if you don’t, you will never allow yourself to grow; to be different, confident, yourself; to recognize your part in this life we all choose to live; to recognize the ways you can become a better person, and a more loving person, to those around you.
You see: If you sulk, we sulk with you. No one likes a Debby Downer; but when those rainy day—or even sunny day—feels come over you, I know the weight. I do. I do, I do, I do.
You must allow yourself to be pulled out of the holes you dig. Even when the rocks feel heavy, and you can’t look someone (or yourself) in the eye.
The way I know that we are all brave and worth saving is because we can all learn. And whether that leads to happy endings or more pain, guess what? We learn. There is no happiness or joy (ultimate or daily) without sorrow and difficulty. You don’t wake up agreeing with your mother or best friend on every issue; you can’t always live up to a boss’ or a friend’s expectation of you; you fail, miserably. (I do too.)
But the kicker is this: You don’t get up from a fall, or battle against the lies, just because it’s another day to fight a terrible world in a terrible battle; you get up because there is actual hope.
Even when it feels like you may not last the day; or the night. Because I promise that if you try—if you grab onto the bed sheet or hold onto the teddy bear (you guys, I have a teddy bear named Mildred because I love my mom and her name is Mildred), and wait for morning, I will be right there, trying with you. The Lord is there too. Even when all you hear is radio silence. Call out the lies while you lay in bed. Text a friend. Bake a cake.
Because they’re actually a crock of *certain expletives*.
How do I know?
Because even if everything goes wrong, you have something to hope in. This is not the end; this is not the entirety of your life; the pain will ease out. How? Well, humans are interesting; we really love each other; and if we’re lucky, we can really show the love of God to one another.
Someone will make you smile. Someone will give you a hug. And if they don’t notice the boulders and waterfalls in your eyes, tell them to; and ask for a hug. Friends and people can be so good—but only as good as our communication with them extends. Because nobody is a mind reader (except maybe Cesar Chavez), so we’ve all got a long way to go.
But the most freeing news: We can make it.
Remember today that your hope will come. You will fall asleep and rest—eventually. And when you wake up, you’ll still feel the boulders; but soon the boulders will turn to marshmallows; and soon you’ll realize that as much as you want to catastrophize (I made up the word) your life, things are going to get better. And not for the sake of an “It Gets Better” Youtube video—for you; for your life; for your family; for your heart; for your “hopelessness”.
You are never without hope. Just...you know...endure...and...wait for it; even when the “...” in life gets annoying and painful, and you want to know, or have it end right away; wait for it.
And the most freeing news: You can make it. So can I.
You can make it, and I know because I have—so many times that I wonder if God is actually up there laughing, because I never learn that He’s big enough, and comes through. I wonder if God is waiting to take me on a walk and remind me all of that’s beautiful in my life, and all that He’s already done—and will do.
Reflect on the Lord, even when it feels like the words get caught in your throat. Read even when it all sounds foreign. Sit and pray until you see that there is no isolation in Him; there is no permanent conflict; there is no fear; at the end of all things—or even the toughest of days—there is only embrace, and there is only renewal.
(I smiled today.)