There are days when I think back on those hopeless moments. Subtle reminders of despair. A smell or a sound will trigger an avalanche of memories, and in an instant I am aware of the brutal journey, the countless adjustments and realignments that brought me to this day.
It is only now, standing on a small hilltop that I can appreciate the journey. I remember numerous concerns and questions on my way. Serious discussions and bargaining with God. I remember a dangerous and unknown path, uncertainty in taking each step. I remember fear and loneliness, but above all I remember the shock and frustration.
How did this happen? How did I get here?
It happens slowly and over time. You give away small pieces of yourself and when the warning lights flash, you coax your authentic self into silence.
Silence becomes the abyss that separates you from hope.
You read books and listen to self-help aides. You search for solutions in psychologists’s offices and anti-depressants. The harder you work the bigger the hole becomes. You try so hard to keep up a good front, pretending that everything is okay. In reality you are struggling with real pain and real issues that you desperately try to ignore. That is how some of us try to live our lives. We juggle our sorrows in a desperate attempt to keep everything in the air, to keep our lives from falling apart.
Desperation. What you cannot say, you weep out. And then just before you give up, someone introduces you to hope.
It is a joyous day when you find hope. You want to shout it from the rooftop, your yearning is to share, to proclaim your faith and establish your foothold. Your world may be falling apart but you are certain that you know the way. You think you will conquer your misery and you decide on a path. You feel the fear and weakness in your bones, but you find courage in your definition of hope.
This is also the moment your intentions become public. Many well-meaning spectators of your life give well-intended advice, quote encouraging scriptures and motivate you to not lose hope. Before you know it you have two battles on hand: the internal search for truth, stability and peace, and the external battle to find and hold on to hope.
I cannot say which one is the most draining. The best way to cope is to pretend.
When you pretend, your whole life becomes a spectacle. You are not safe in a community for fear of being found out and you are not safe on your own because God finds you in your secret places.
It is a tremendous burden to carry, when you are responsible for your hope. My perceptions was that I had to work to keep it, that hope was stored in God’s tank, and I somehow had to establish the connection and hold on. It is difficult to admit your defeat. Who loses hope?
I read a quote by Emily Dickenson, “Hope is the thing with feathers- that perches in the soul. And sings the tunes without the words- and never stops at all”.
I cried. I knew my hope had feathers and it flew away.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG)
It is easy to keep hoping when you see a change in your circumstances, it is heart- wrenching when you focus on taking the right path and your difficulties increase. I realized how easy it was to lose hope, to see it fall through my brittle fingers. My most desperate attempts was devoid of hope and the most brutal part of my journey.
When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2, NLT)
The harder the journey, the more I learned. Pride kept me bound to my weaknesses, it was difficult to ask for help. I was emotionally drained by bitterness and resentment. God allowed me to make my own choices, He created space for me to bear the consequences of my own (and other people’s) bad choices. He patiently waited for me to deplete all my own strategies and strengths; to fill and empty my own tank of hope; to yield myself to Him.
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when God touched my heart, but I know it changed the course of my life. He used my pain to get my full attention. He used my warped circumstances to teach me to fully depend on Him. I reached the point where I could no longer motivate myself, where my pain exceeded my fear of change.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, NIV)
Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways. (Proverbs 20:30, TEV)
The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart. (Psalm 51:17, NLT)
I am glad… Not because it hurt you, but because the pain turned you to God. ( Corinthians 7:9, TLB)
When I had lost all hope I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. (Jonah 2:7, NLT)
I found freedom in the hope that God provided. I was free to focus on my journey; to tap into the never-ending source of hope. I was grateful.
Grateful for every tear that brought my soul back to life; grateful that God found me; grateful that He reconnect us to who we really are. He opened the gate for me to connect to others in an honest way.
I realized I had to live my truth, sacrifice the false sense of humility. I found myself at the foot of a steep hill. I could not see the top, and there was no beaten footpath. I had no map, no guarantee that I would ever reach the top. I was certain of God and His source of hope, and I was certain of my desperation to find peace. There was no turning back and I was utterly alone.
My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT)
The spirit that God has given us…fills us with power, love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7, TEV)
When I reached this point, I realized that God walked with me through some dark times and He is able to bring restoration to any situation.
Put your heart right… Reach out to God…then face the world again; firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more. (Job 11:13,15-16,TEV)
Before me was a long journey, a process of continual growth…no destination.
I opted to gear up for the struggle that would lead me to peace. Above all I decided to be reasonably happy every day of my life. To find God in the small things.
“Every blade of grass, each leaf, each separate petal, is an inscription speaking of hope”. Richard Jefferies.
I am looking forward to share my journey with you, so you can find real hope and I can continue on my road to healing.
There is so much you can let go of without really losing a thing!
Before me I could see a city, carved out of rock. I saw permanent houses and temporary shacks. People scurried around and I felt a spirit of discontent.
It was only when I left this city that I saw its name…written in big, bold letters I saw DENIAL.
It was a place filled with all my fears and failures.