I struggled with what to write today. Things have been going well, my stress is down, and I have been steadily accomplishing many things on my list. However, many around me have been going through pretty significant trials lately, and have been hit so hard that many of them are on the ropes right now and aren’t sure they can take any more. Regardless of the mountain, many of you are fighting the uphill climb and I wanted to write something that would resonate with you and help maybe make the next couple of steps better anyway.
Hope is a powerful thing. Much like darkness is the absence of light and (in my opinion) evil is the absence of good, despair is the absence of hope. And, as their are many gradations of darkness and evil, there are many degrees of despair, each underscoring the loss of a little more hope. I remember the scene in The Two Towers where Aragorn, full of despair at the situation at Helm’s Deep, is approached by a boy who asks him if it is hopeless, causing him to remind both himself and the boy that there is always hope.
Hope is a choice between fear and faith. Sometimes, in the shadow of the mountain it is hard to believe, but the choice is still there. So, how do we make the choice to not fear and have hope when things look their bleakest? There are a lot of ways to do that, but here are a couple that have worked pretty good for me.
First, another friend used to tell me that when things seemed dark, he would ask himself the question, what is the worst that could happen, answer that and then ask if he could live with that outcome. This is powerful because if we are honest about both questions we can regain our perspective and somehow diminish the ominous shadow of the mountain. It is hard, though, because far too often we don’t take a real good look at those questions. Sometimes, the worst that can happen is pretty bad and difficult to handle. At the same time, we have a true understanding, which can lessen our fear and bolster our faith.
Second, take the long view. The life I imagined I would have is drastically different than the one I have currently and I believe it will continue to evolve differently than I have imagined. There were good times I thought would last forever and bad times I thought would never end, but in the end, they came and went as they would, in their own time, and I made it through. Sometimes it hurt and was so difficult I had to just take one step at a time and endure day by day. I had to decide to fight through it and choose to hope in better tomorrow. Sometimes it was easy and I had to remind myself that such times are a gift and should not be taken for granted.
So, for all of you out there struggling right now. Here are a few truths to hang onto and to encourage you.
Things will get better, but until they do, find one thing each day that you can say is good. It can be a song you heard, a breeze, a book, a parking space, anything, but find one thing that was good each day.
You are loved and valued. Do not let your pride, your emotions or your frustrations keep you from reaching out to those who love you. They will stand with you regardless of the mountain and it’s challenges.
Finally, don’t fight tomorrow’s battle today. As we used to say in the military, don’t pass up an opportunity to sleep, eat, or use the bathroom because when the fight comes it may last awhile. Use the calm before the storm and the pauses in the fight to regroup and recover.
Good luck, and remember, there is always hope.