Facing Challenges

Joy and despair coexist

Why don’t I feel better

Because I can’t or won’t.

Because I don’t know the answers

Or care about the questions.

Why don’t I feel better

Because I’m exhausted & over it all.

Because I feel sad about everything

Or maybe about nothing.

Why don’t I feel better

Because it keeps coming.

Because I can’t catch my breath

Or even breathe at all sometimes.

I wrote the piece above in a time of despair. DESPAIR is a word I never fully understood until recently. Since the death of my son, I believe that I comprehend this word in its entirety. There are truly moments that I can’t breathe, days that there are dark clouds even with the bright sun. Despair is dark and scary. It envelopes you and threatens to strangle you while cutting you off from the rest of the world. That’s how it wins. Once you get away from one tentacle, it wraps another octopus-like arm around you.

Luckily for me, despair is not the only word I’ve learned in recent years. I also wholly grasp the meaning of the word JOY. It can coexist even in the almost complete darkness. It only needs a tiny glimmer of light to survive. It is the only thing that has allowed me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Romans 12:12 says “Be joyful in hope,¬†patient in affliction,¬†faithful in prayer.” I can’t imagine my life without hope, patience, and faithfulness. I am certainly in no way perfect in my practice of these qualities; however, I recognize how unbelievably important they are if I am to win against the depths of despair. True joy can rise above all our circumstances. Hope sustains us. Those without hope can not find joy, and that is where I really hit a wall. The days when hope plays hide and seek are my darkest ones. Those I know who tell me things are hopeless are the most desperate of souls. Yet, it’s not something that can always be found easily. It has to come from within and from God.

I consider myself extremely lucky because I can find joy. I can’t imagine what it would be like if that weren’t the case. I might never emerge from beneath the covers or smile from behind my mask again. Life can be scary and desperate while also being joyous and amazing. There was a time when I didn’t know that it could be both. Sometimes I wonder if we teach the wrong message. Everyone needs to know that it’s okay to be sad or even in despair. Just don’t forget that you can see your way back to hope. It’s there if you look for the light.

lighted candle
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