Have you ever felt hopeless? Boy, I sure have. I have felt hopeless in illness, hopeless in struggles with my kids, and hopeless about this election.
I think I felt the most hopeless fighting depression. In the worst of my depression, postpartum with Judah, I spent a lot of time at my mom’s. She lives about an hour away. She didn’t have a full-time job at the time, so when I went to stay for a couple days she could help me round the clock. She helped me get sleep, tirelessly played with the boys, cooked for us – and was just WITH us – which was probably the greatest gift to my hurting soul.
I remember one time about five months into my depression, before it started to let up, locking myself in the bathroom to be alone and deal with this blackness that was washing over me. I was profoundly miserable. My heart was twisting in agony and anxiety, my mind was troubled, and I was exhausted from carrying the heaviness. I sat there on the bathroom floor, too overwhelmed for tears, and a voice deep inside me said, “This is never going to get better. You will always be haunted by this demon. Your happiness is gone and it isn’t coming back.” I felt hopeless.
Fortunately, I was surrounded by loving family who didn’t leave me alone and got me the help I needed to find hope, and eventually joy, again.
Hope is possibility. It is the belief that things CAN be different, that life CAN be better.
Our God has put us in an amazing world with astounding people. Just in the past month in my limited experience I have seen: a family adopt a 17 year-old-boy, just before he was going to age out of the foster system; a baby with a heart condition learn to sit up; a nine-year-old boy write and publish a sign language book to create a bigger signing community for a family member; and an 11-year-old boy find a crying classmate under a tree and tell her she’s pretty (after she’d been called ugly by others) and a good friend and then send her on her way smiling. I saw everyday people give blood and offer their homes to hurricane victims, and I saw geniuses give away their inventions to make the world a better place.
God is working. Good is working.
Does your illness feel unending? Like your life will never be full and active and joyful again? You live in a world where gifted people with beautiful hearts are looking for a solution to YOUR problem. Don’t give up. Pray for wisdom and guidance and try one thing at a time, one doctor at a time, one naturopath at a time, one dietary change at a time, always being open to the possibility that this may be the thing that can help you.
Are you hopeless in depression or anxiety? You are not alone. One of the trademarks of depression is hopelessness. But thousands of people have found hope and healing, and you can too. You may not have found the right book, the right therapist, the right circle of friends, the right treatment for YOU yet. That’s ok. It doesn’t feel ok, but it is. Reach out. Find someone to help you in your search, and keep searching. There is a path to healing for you.
And in the meantime? While you’re suffering with illness and depression and haven’t found anything or anyone to help? First, you are not alone. God gave us community to support and love each other through the hard places. If you don’t have a community to love and support you, I know lots of people who would love to help you find one (including me). Second, nothing you are going through will be wasted. God uses and redeems everything. Your pain will be your own or someone else’s healing. That doesn’t make it feel better right now, but it does give it some purpose. I would not have found healing in my life without countless people who went through pain before me and helped me get to the other side. And there is nothing quite like using your pain to help somebody else get to the other side. That day is coming. You will be the healer for someone else.
Hope is possibility. We live in a world that’s too big and too mysterious and too complicated to “know” that things can’t get better. Forces are at work we can’t see or understand. God is bigger and more loving and more patient than we know. There are lots of people with good hearts and big dreams and pure motives.
There is hope.