Abandon All Hope?

Photo by Buse Doa from Pexels

It’s hard to see a way out. You might even say that it’s impossible so, why even try? I can hear the replies now. They’re the same ones I’ve heard a hundred times. Nothing is impossible if you have faith. Hope is never a fool’s errand. Keep going, don’t give up because something good is waiting for you just around the corner.

But I’ve been driving this very straight road for many moons. I’ve yet to come across a corner, bend, or even a slight curve. As far as my eyes can see, there’s nothing but a straight shot through barren lands. Where’s this “corner” you speak of? Did I miss it? Can you put it into Google maps? I’m ready to be hopeful, but I just can’t see it.

I’m trying, and I have been for a very long time. Over and over again, I pull myself up, but then I get knocked back down. It adds insult to bruises. Eventually, I’m going to stay down there, and wonder if I have the energy to get up one more time.

Can I just lay here for a little while, close my eyes, and take a nap? It’s not forever, I don’t think. It might be, I’m not ruling anything out, but let’s start with a snooze. Five minutes? No, make it twenty. I’m incredibly tired.

Nope, up you get! The helpful souls say as they clap their hands and cheer from the sidelines. Bless their hearts, they’re always so chipper. It’s nice that they’re trying, even if it is kind of annoying. 

But lovingly! Lovingly annoying. What would we do without em? Mope. Pout. Ho hum all over the place. No, that just won’t do. Bring on the cheerleaders, the clowns, and the perky parade in moderation. You know, too much of a good thing and all that.

They mean well, and they’ve got a bag of cliches just waiting to be used. Let’s go with a classic that I don’t mind all that much. This too shall pass, or something similar. Did you roll your eyes? Okay, it’s not necessarily helpful, in the traditional sense, but it isn’t wrong, per se. This could be a rough patch, and it’ll smooth over eventually. It could be a flare-up, and it will sizzle out. If there’s a chance that you can get back to good? Focus on the good.

My itchy fingers want to type blah, blah, blah, so there it is. While I don’t totally dislike the phrase— it has its moments— it makes a few gigantic assumptions. The obvious is a simple truth that some things don’t pass. They stick around and have an unfortunate level of endurance. They keep going until we’re too tired to keep up, but that doesn’t mean it’s over. It keeps going, and we’re just along for the ride.

It also assumes that our fortitude is limitless, and it doesn’t take basic human frailty into consideration. This might pass, but I don’t know if I can hold on that long. My muscles are straining, my palms are sweating, and my grip is weakening. Hold on? Focus on the good? Seriously, that’s the best advice you’ve got?

How do you focus on the mere chance that something good will happen when everything feels overwhelmingly hopeless? The hits keep coming, and those bruises develop bruises. We anticipate the fall, and that turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re so busy looking for something to trip over that we walk into a telephone pole, and down we go.

As if you needed to add insult to injury. It’s the pole’s fault. It totally jumped out in blatant attack. The damn thing needs to be cut down, sawed into pieces, and strewn across the four corners of the globe.

Lately, I feel like I’m walking into the pole, falling down, and getting back up so I can walk into again. Over and over again. I swear that next time will be different, but then I get up, take a few steps back, and plow forward with stubborn determination. If I walk into it enough times, it will learn its lesson and move.

Go on, slap your forehead. I always have to do things the hard way.

Life has been… Challenging. That seems like a good word for it. Should I use more colourful language? Add a few bleeps, exclamation marks, and a blurry font. Oh, that’s too much effort. Let’s stick with something innocuous. 

It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I’ve been feeling like I’m on this ride, but it’s broken. It just keeps going around and around. Up, down, swerve and then pause for dramatic effect. I see the finish line just up ahead, but it looks like it’ll be a crashing end. I brace for impact, the breaks squeal and smoke, and close my eyes.

But then it stops. There’s a momentary pause. I open one eye to see what’s going on. There’s a sigh of relief that’s short-lived. The rollercoaster jerks once and flies backwards in reverse. Here we go, another loop filled with ups and downs.

If you’ve read my other posts over the last few weeks, then you’ll know that someone I love is very sick. We’ve come close… I can’t type the words. I’m not putting that out there. Let’s just say I’ve been praying for a miracle, and we recently received one. Well, that’s how I’m seeing it. 

The right people showed up at the right time to offer much-needed help. The kindness, compassion, and skill they brought have been a godsend. They’ve given hope when things felt hopeless. I’m incredibly grateful they came in to work when they did. If I could give them a hug, I would do it awkwardly. 

For me, though, I’m having a hard time believing that hope still exists and it’s well placed. I’m not sure if I can trust it or even if I should. I’ve embraced it before, and when it disappeared? It was a gut punch that brought me to my knees.

I think it’s understandable that I’m a bit leery of its presence. Sure it looks fabulous, shiny, full of rainbows, butterflies and all that jazz. It smells like freshly picked strawberries. It’s brought its own spring breeze and blue skies. By appearance alone, it’s pretty alluring, but I’ve fallen for that a few times.

Fool me once; shame on me. Fool me twice, thrice, and multiply that by a dozen? Well, shame on you, hope. You’re a tease. A dirty, slutty, tease. Too far? Or is this where I quote Dante’s Divine Comedy? “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, and I don’t believe that hope has forsaken me, not really. It’s becoming harder to trust it, and I don’t see it clearly right now. That doesn’t mean it’s gone for good. It’s certainly not a lost cause. I’m… How do I say this?… I’m tired, and sometimes hope takes a lot of energy.

Many years ago, when my grandmother got sick, she inadvertently taught me a valuable lesson when it comes to hope and faith. She was in the hospital, recovering from a massive heart attack, and she was feeling down. 

If you’ve done a long-haul recovery than you know how hard they are. I’ve had to do a few of those myself. I have chronic renal failure, I was diagnosed when I was three, and I’ve had hospital stays that have been months long. There were a few years where I spent a grand total of three weeks at home. I started to call the hospital home, and home became a place I visited once in a while. 

When you’re in that kind of recovery, it’s difficult to see a life beyond the pain and hospital walls. It can be hard to remember that you had a life before this, let alone see your life play out after. After three or four weeks, it starts to feel like this is your life now, and it won’t get better. It’s more than disheartening. It drains your spirit and blinds you to hope. It leaves you feeling like a ghost trapped inside a living skeleton.

So when my Gran took my hand and said, “I can’t pray anymore. I can’t feel God or hope. I’m trying to find it, but I’m tired. Can you do it for me?” Can you pray for me? Can you hope for me? Just until I’m stronger, can you have faith for me?

Well, I couldn’t do anything to help her heal, but I could do that. I could carry the weight of faith and hope until her strength returned. Of course, I told her she could rest, and I’d do the heavy lifting. It was the least I could do for a woman who’d given me so much.

She passed away a year later, but that moment has stuck with me. It might be one of the greatest gifts she ever gave me. She taught me that we don’t have to carry the weight alone. Hope is individual, but it can also be communal. We can have hope for someone who’s too beaten to do it themselves. We can have faith when someone we love is too weak to believe. When exhaustion takes over, and we’re covered in bruises, we can take the hand that’s offered because they’re strong enough to carry the load.

I think it’s one of the most precious things we can do for someone. It isn’t boastful. This isn’t an act we put on for recognition. It’s quiet, gentle, and done out of love. We give ourselves over as a spiritual surrogate so they can rest and heal.

One thing that’s given me a lot of comfort has been the knowledge that people are praying for my loved one. They hope for recovery, have faith in a healing power, and they believe in miracles. They’re doing that for us, and that means I can take a moment to close my eyes and rest.

That’s incredibly special, and I’m more grateful than I can say.


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