There is a quote by John Hope Bryant that says this: “The most dangerous person in the world, is a person with no hope.”
Because they have nothing to lose. And feeling like you have nothing to lose leads to behavior that can become reckless, self sabotaging, and destructive to the world around you.
I’ve lived through moments when the good life I once knew felt decimated into oblivion. When all oxygen felt sucked out of the room. When grief made my heart and limbs feel like they were on a cross country journey trekking through knee deep sand.
In those moments, your circumstances can look and feel like a wasteland. I once heard someone describe it as the “ground zero” of your life. Like ground zero of the World Trade Center in New York. A place once thriving with life, replaced by a heap of rubble and ashes.
What are the wastelands of your life? What are those places that look beyond hope?
I had a miscarriage once at thirteen weeks. I remember the bleeding in the weeks that followed, a symbol that the heartbeat that once beat beneath my own had stopped. A constant and painful reminder of my empty womb and aching heart. A due date that is now an anniversary. A wasteland.
I hear wasteland stories often. It’s a reminder that we all have painful experiences that we have to learn to navigate through on our journey around the sun. I have never met a single person who is exempt and find myself often surprised at what people learn to carry, even that person you think has never been through a hard thing in their life.
I’ve been following the journey of a three year old little girl fighting for her life. From thriving health to an unexpected arrival of heart failure. An unforeseen bend in the road that has left her family blind sided and forging their way through a new and unwanted normal. Their current reality is now around the clock sights and sounds common to hospitals. Monitors and normal vs abnormal ranges, waiting for daily rounds by the doctors. Waiting for glimpses of hope. Waiting for their sweet girl to wake from her sedated slumber. Waiting for her healing to come, physically and in the part where a deep sadness has settled. A sadness from the trauma of it all, from being three and not understanding that what’s being done is for her good, and not understanding what became of the happy life she used to know. A life of playing with baby dolls and running carefree with her siblings.
I am completely immersed in their story. Heart deep. Checking compulsively every few hours for updates on Rowen. Waiting along side of them for her to smile again. Waiting in this wasteland for some sign of hope.
I don’t ever want to be a person who sings songs to a heavy and broken heart. There’s a proverb that describes that as removing someone’s garment on a cold day. Ouch. I don’t ever want to a person who minimizes the gravity of hell on earth that people have to walk through. If there is any prayer that I have, it is “God, please don’t let me be that.” I want to be the person who laments with people. Who sits down with them in their suffering and waits it out. Waits for relief. Waits for morning. Waits until the tears have slowed or stopped. Waits and wades through the wasteland.
I only know that in my own life, that place that I looked at and said, “this is a wasteland,” has become a place thriving with beautiful life. The beautiful made even more so somehow by the depth of the sorrow. I will never fully understand the complexity of it all on this side of eternity, and I have made peace with that.
And that’s where hope is found. In looking ahead and daring to believe that in your wasteland, life will return. Your ability to smile will return. It will. I promise it will. “A new normal,” a tragedy survivor once promised me.
It doesn’t minimize the tragedy, loss, or sorrow of our experiences. Hope is our lifeline. It is how we survive the wasteland, by clinging to it, even if it’s only by a thread.
”A wasteland. Unlivable. Not even a dog could live here…But the time is coming when you’re going to hear laughter and celebration..”
Jeremiah 33:10-11 Msg translation
photo cred for ground zero: Boston.com