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HOPE NOTE #9: When life SUCKS

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

Sometimes life takes a hard left turn on you and it hurts.

Have you ever headed out somewhere you’ve been before (but not often) and you’re pretty sure you know where you are going, but not 100%? Maybe depending on feelings and recognition and not necessarily street names the whole time?

I’ve done that a few times recently and I’ve noticed something: I usually get nervous and confused and think “I should be there by now.”

I turn even though I don’t feel 100% about the turn, I just panic and feel like I SHOULD have turned this way by now. So I do. I turn. And then nothing looks familiar and I get lost and have to pull over to look up the directions.

It’s so funny. 10 times out of 10, I turned 1 or 2 streets too early. Never too late. Always too early.

I’ll connect this in a bit, but it made me think about HOPE vs POSITIVITY.

Dang it, life is full of hard things. I didn’t use to believe this. I used to think that if you did the right stuff, you avoided pain.

You know like, if you don’t play on the highway you won’t get run over by a car! Duuuuh!!

I honestly believed that if I loved God and read the Bible and participated in church (participated hard.. Like I WORKED there) and gave money to the church and prayed as much as I could, I’d have a blessed life. Things would work out. Dreams would come true.

Turns out people who do their best still suffer career ending sports injuries and have kids with autism and suffer heartache and pain.

I never said it made sense. But it IS what I believed.

I tried to use my old beliefs of doing the right thing to get a good life when I had kids with autism. I asked for all the right therapies and techniques to deal with autism so we could fix it or help it or change it or make it manageable. We worked so hard and spent so much money trying all sorts of things.

And what I realized was, we can do all the therapies, I can heed all the advice, I can be calm, regulated, patient, and check off all my autism mom required behavioral boxes, but my son could STILL have a meltdown meaning that we’d all be stuck at the house, caring for 1 screaming red faced kid, while the other 3 kids, late for school again, looked back at me frustrated, confused, and sometimes angry or traumatized while they watched me try to figure out how to solve the unsolvable. All I can say is that it was a super tough time. No way was it a reward for all my efforts and good behavior.

POSITIVITY is the script where I repeat things like, “it’s all for a reason” or “I can do this” or “You got this” or “God has a plan,” etc.

HOPE is the one that says, “This sucks. It’s not right. It’s super hard and I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but it’s not the end so I’m not going to give up.”

Those responses are so different.

One ignores facts and the other engages.

One tries to control reality and the other wrestles it’s way through it.

So back to the driving thing.

Life’s like that. You’re doing your thing, doing your best, trying to follow your gut because you ain’t never been this way before, we’re all new at life. We have some experience, but not a lot (if we’re honest). First time around you know.

Of course we all try to make the right turns, we use whatever maps we’ve been given and really if we could do it perfectly we would. But we’re all so unique that sometimes the map seems blank. Or even invisible for a while. Or inaccessible.

And you’re going along and you get nervous and feel like “shouldn’t I be doing something different by now” and you make a turn and you get lost for a bit.

Positivity says, “Don’t worry. It’s all good. It’s for a purpose. ALLllllll part of the plan. YOU got this!” and drives around and around like that until you run out of positivity gas and have to admit there was actually a problem. Well, now maybe an even more complicated problem since we kept driving and ignored the fact that we were lost.

Hope says, “OH. This feels off. I don’t feel right about this. I’m lost. I think I can figure this out, let me get my bearings or ask for help…” And you pull over, make a call, check a map, find your North and South again, and slowly but surely find your way out of there.

Hope connects. Positivity disconnects.

I don’t have too much time for positivity. It feels like lying to me. I understand the power of words, it’s just that I think TRUE words work better.

So, truth? You can do ALLLLLLLLL the right things and poop is still gonna hit the fan. That’s not negative or unhelpful. In fact, the belief that doing it all right = a guarantee that dreams come true and all happiness is coming your way . . . is probably one of the meanest things to tell ourselves.

Our friends this last weekend lost their bright faced, sparkly eyed, beautiful, kind, friend to many, Volleyball MVP, eldest of four, beloved 19 year old daughter to a car accident. Black ice.

It makes no sense. There's ZERO logic. Not fair. Not right. Completely devastatingly horrible. We’ve been crying all weekend, watching their Facebook posts as the joy of her life and the pain of losing her hits their family and their community.

Positivity seeks for ways to make it make sense and be reasonable.

Hope is what gets us through. It’s the sustainer. The presence of love in the middle of pain.

I think hope is the one that hears us and sees us and says, “, I’m with you. You are not alone.”

I’m so sorry that life isn’t simple math. I’m so sorry that life’s results don’t always match the work and effort you put out there.

You ARE loved.

You are NOT alone.

Hope isn’t a cure or a cute saying. It isn’t a guarantee that things will eventually make sense.

It isn’t saying “this is worth it because I’ll learn a life lesson here.”

Hope is the presence of love WITH you saying you’re not alone, no matter what is going on.

Hang on. You’re not alone.

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