Hold on to Hope. No, Really: Hold on to Hope.

As this year draws to a close, I can’t help but look back and reflect. Friends, it’s been a hard year. Not just for me; so many of my friends and acquaintances have walked through dark times this year. Loved ones passing away, huge life changes, battles with depression, divorce, losing jobs, miscarriages – the list goes on and on. Not to mention all the scary craziness in our nation and around the world.

There are so many words I could use to describe the past year. Fear. Change. Depression. Exhaustion. Yet as I look back the word that floats to the top above all these words is “hope.” Hope makes all the difference.

This goes out to three of my friends in particular, though I believe others may find these words helpful as well. To the one who feels he must be strong; to the one who lost her art; to the one who feels dead inside: Hold on to hope. No, really: hold on to hope. If you have no hope left to hold onto, then chase after it with everything you have.

Hope is the thing with feathers, the thing that gets us through. Hope is what convinces you to pull back the covers one more time, face the world one more time, take one more step. Hope does not let us down, but guides us through without fail. Hope says that even though you are on the floor unable to move, there will be a better day. Hope tells you to put down the revolver. Hope tells you that you. can. make. it. through. One more time: You can make it through.

It gets better. Even if you cannot see it, trust that I can see it. If you have no hope, draw on mine. It gets better. There is so much ahead of you! Life is dark right now and everything hurts, but I am begging you: hold on to hope. I say this not from a place of perfection, but from a place of empathy: I have walked through the darkness and I have found the sun again, even if it’s not perfect.

I want you to know that people care about you. Even if no one else cares, I care about you. Each and every one of you, I care about you and I ache along with you. I will walk with you through this, you do not have to go alone.

 

I’m not a mom, but I read motherhood blogs

I’m not a mom. When I was younger I always said I wanted seven children, but now I’m not so sure. In fact, with each year I tuck into my blue jeans, I become increasingly persuaded that I don’t even want kids. Don’t get me wrong, kids are great. I love kids. I love playing with them and working with them at church. I just don’t think I want to have my own and be a mom.

Nevertheless, I read motherhood blogs. And like them. Actually, I like them more than just about any other kind of blog. Do you know why? Because in a community of mothers I have found encouragement that is definitely not intended for my demographic, but applies just the same. Lisa-Jo writes about the glory of the ordinary, the hand of God in every-day life, the eternal value of small things. 

And I need to be reminded of that.

Because I lead a small life. I get up every day and go to my entry-level librarian job. I order books and code the webpage and make the coffee. I come home and make dinner, wash the dishes, do the laundry, and then spend the rest of the evening working on my graduate school classes. Rinse and repeat.

And sometimes I need to be reminded that the daily ins and outs of my small life affect the people around me. My flatmate, my coworkers, the students who come into my library – I have impact on them. And that matters, both now and in eternity.

This Is For You

This is for all of you out there who have ever verbally answered the question, “How are you?” with a flat “fine-how-are-you?” but inwardly said, “I’m not fine. I’m not even close to fine. In fact, my world is falling apart. But you don’t care, do you?”

This is for the the men who have been disrespected and belittled by women, but didn’t say anything about it for fear of worse ridicule or embarressment.

This is for the women who have been derided for staying home to raise their children. This is also for the women who were derided for not staying home to raise their children.

This is for people who have felt the icy rope of despair wrap itself round and round their necks until the only thought left in their heads is wanting to die. Because surely death is better than this hell you’re currently living in.

This is for the women and the men who battle daily with eating disorders. Because men have eating disorders too, but are less likely to get help for it.

This is for the teenagers who feel cut off from the world, isolated in an ocean of raging emotions that adults recurse to validate. Because those emotions are just as real as adult emotions, and therefore just as valid. Because your existence is is precious, and I promise life gets better. These are not the “best years of your life.” No, my friend, your life is just getting started.

This is for the weary, stressed out person in line at the grocery store. Because you haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in longer than you can remember, and that pile of coupons is all that stands between your groceries and your electricity being shut off. Because no matter what you do, you always seem to fail.

This is for you.

Someday I hope you can talk about it. Someday I hope you will be able to see the arms of Christ stretching wide to encircle you – you with all your hurts and scars and baggage from the years of pain and silence.  Someday I hope the words pour forth. May they break down the dam inside you, spilling out in a flood of messy release. Let them spill from your mouth and from your fingers onto journal pages, laptops, cellphones, wherever they can reach. And let the flood of words begin to fill in the potholes and ditches of your wounded soul. Let them fill until you can no longer see the ground, but instead see nothing but water, a serene and beautiful lake. And let there be peace within you.

From the mouth comes both hurt and healing, and someday I hope the very same mouths that have hurt you will speak healing words over you. Words of love, forgiveness, acceptance, freedom, peace. Words of reconciliation.

But even if they never do, I hope that someday you will find someone who will. Because no one should have to go through life carrying that much hurt and pain.

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about the things that are the most important to us, that have caused us the most pain. I get that. But if you’re ever ready and you have no one to tell it to, know that I am here. I will listen to you, cry with you, whatever you need. And I will speak life over you. Because everyone deserves a full life.

Even you.