The last two weeks have been gut-wrenching.
It is difficult-and, I suppose, a bit against our inclination-to look for hope in moments of despair, and yet, those are precisely the moments when hope is so desperately needed. In my writing, I often compare struggle and trial and heartache with darkness-specifically, night. Joy, conversely, is light.if you’re sick of hearing me make these comparisons, you can blame David, for his psalms are full of this idea. But it is those times when the sun is so hidden from our lives that we need and crave the hope of dawn. We live in a time and place where we are so wired all the time that we don’t really know what it is to be without light. We are almost always only a flipped switch away from light. Imagine that you were alone in the dark canvas of a long night with no electricity. Would you not find comfort in even the smallest flicker of a candle? In the faintest glimmer of starlight? In the soft reflective light of the moon? Stars,you know, do not “go dark” in our daylight; they are simply hidden from our sight by daylight from our own star. Moments of hope,I think, are the same. They don’t go away or cease to be during good times, but we don’t need them as much or as often because we are comforted by the warmth of the sun’s rays.
In the gut-wrenching black night of my little existence lately, I have struggled. Hope is not my natural disposition. I tend not towards pessimism, but despair. Recent events, I believed, were going to break me into a million tiny pieces and fling them to the furthest reaches of the universe.
My sister-in-law had a death in her family that has been heartbreaking for several reasons. The Littles came to spend an evening here while she was with her family. She picked them up late, and as they were pulling out of the driveway, my cell rang. It was my sister-in-law, saying that J was not taking it well and he asked to come back and hug us. It broke my heart.
In another perpetually dysfunctional situation, I said on the telephone that I loved this person and was worried for him and I desperately wanted to help him, but he never speaks to me or reaches out unless he is in crisis mode. He felt that i was exaggerating (I wasn’t), and so he did the only logical thing you can do when someone basically asks if you’re using them: He hung up. On me. Yes, he did. And I recounted all those times that well-intentioned Christians have told me the problem in this particular relationship is that I “haven’t forgiven.” And for the millionth time in my life… It broke my heart.
I dared to dream a big dream. To give opportunity to a piece of my life that I’ve always feared. Every step of the way was open door after open door. I was afraid to believe it was coming to pass; I didn’t want to be disappointed if it fell apart. But it looked like everything was set. And then the door slammed shut, crushing my fingers. The pain, the discouragement, the anger… It was more than I could handle. It broke my heart.
Each of these situations has left me in a bit of grief. The darkness truly seems to have swallowed the light.
But just in typical God fashion, the sky began to light up, one star after another.
J’s sadness broke this adoring auntie’s heart, but that’s not all it did. It also reminded me how very tender his young heart is. He is like his father in that way-he seems to feel deeply, and to love deeply. What an amazing thing for any person, but a four year old? The thing that broke my heart also whispered hope to my spirit. The world is changed by men and women with such great love and emotion. This little man… Is a game changer.
In the dysfunctional hangup, my already wounded heart was broken yet again over something I cannot fix, over a love that is mine by right but has never been mine. But in that split second after the click, just after I heard myself say, “he just hung up on you, Sar” in utter shock, I felt a lightness I’ve mingled with in the past but have never quite known. It is no longer my decision. He hung up on me; he chose to end a difficult dialogue rather than even simply reassuring me of his love. The fact that he opted out sort of released me. Don’t mistake me-I would give anything for a different outcome, a healthy outcome. But I think very few people realize the chains of a dysfunctional relationship and how it can make you feel culpable for decisions others have made. And in the aftermath of sorrow, my hope is in the knowledge that it was his decision. Not mine.
Finally, when my passionate pursuit crashed down around me, the grief was so tangible and so bitter that I didn’t know what to say or think or do. The broken place in my heart longer for a solitary place to play my guitar and just sing my prayers and sorrows to Jesus. But… I’ve been avoiding my guitar. Without any knowledge of what was happening, two friends in the past twenty-four hours have mentioned my music. And so I spent a quiet hour with my guitar this morning, and what did I find? I found hope. I found willing fingertips and gentle resonance. I found songs I had forgotten but they came back like heirlooms of my existence. I found that though my passions are many, music has always been my language.
Hope. In the dead of night. In all of these dark places. In the deepest hours of the night. In the most bitter cold. There is hope.
Cling to it, I urge you. Hold on til morning.