Turn on the news, scroll through social media, what do you see? Sometimes it seems that all we see is the bad going on in the world, and a world seeming void of hope. The truth is, we do live in a broken world. We live in a world filled with tragedy and heartache. No matter how advanced our society becomes in the areas of technology and medicine, there is still one thing that no one has been able to successfully master. No one has been able to master peace throughout the world. There are wars, conflicts, lies being told, betrayals taking place and there is death.
In a world that may seem so divided at times we hold one thing in common; we will all experience death. We will lose someone we love and we ourselves will die. Author Ann Voskamp speaks about this in her book, “The Broken Way.” She mentions the inevitability of tragedy. No one is immune to it. If you haven’t experienced tragedy yet, it’s because you haven’t lived long enough.
How is it possible for us to survive and to thrive in a world so broken? Our world gives our anxieties plenty of things to feed off of, yet deep within our broken nature is placed a trait so special and unique from other species. Placed so preciously, deep in our souls is a feeling of hope, and we all hope. We hope for our days to get easier. We hope for a better job. We hope for a loving marriage. We hope for our children to grow up to be happy and successful. We hope to be healthy. We hope to make a difference in the world. We hope, we hope and we hope. Hope is such a beautiful thing. It is a four letter word, so small and common, yet packed with so much power. Hope is what keeps us going and sometimes hope is all that we have.
I sit on the cold ground, the dirt and grass feeling so familiar beneath my worn out body. I stare at the temporary tombstone. I’m angry that there isn’t a tombstone yet. Nicole deserves a tombstone. My anger turns to sorrow and my eyes are streaked with tears as I think about all that has changed in my life. Earlier this morning I got in trouble at home. I had fallen asleep at John’s house, which I had never done before and awoke to my mom calling me at 8 o’clock in the morning to see where I was. I never want to leave John. He makes me feel so safe. When I am with him, I know that I will be okay. My mom was furious when she woke up to see that I never came home. I am sure she was frightened at first, but when she found out where I was she was mad and even worse, disappointed. I have been a series of disappointments lately. My life seems to be crumbling in the wake of Nicole’s death. Why can’t I pull myself together? Why do I continue to make bad decisions? Why can’t I be better?
I cry until I run out of tears and I find myself lying on the ground, the ground that covers my beautiful friend, feeling broken beyond repair. I stare at the birds in the nearby tree. They are singing and chirping, busy finding food in the birdhouses. They are so beautiful. The tree is so beautiful. My life seems to be crumbling, but this world continues. I want to continue. I want to be a part of the beauty in the world. I need to get out of my head and get a grip on my anxiety before it devours me. I can not let myself die with Nicole. There must be a purpose in all of this. Laying on the sun soaked earth I once again admire the birds and suddenly I am filled with a feeling of hope. Here in the cemetery the birds are surrounded by death, but yet they sing. I can not let death steal the song from my own heart. I get up from the ground and place a kiss on Nicole’s makeshift tombstone. As I get into my car I am feeling hopeful. I am hopeful that one day the song in my own heart will be heard again.
I am preparing to go to bed. Nighttime is my least favorite time of day. The darkness of the world reminds me of the darkness in my heart. The quiet of the night magnifies the noises in my head. When all is calm and quiet around me my anxiety runs rampant. John is watching TV, unwinding from his busy day and I am in a full blown panic over the stillness of the night. The knot in my chest tightens and seems to pulsate with each labored breath I take. My mind is racing and I can’t catch my breath. Images rush through my head, Nicole’s smile, the parties at college, my family and their disappointment if they knew who I really was, John leaving me because I am too much to handle. I wish I had died that night instead…………
John comes in and I lie down hoping to fall asleep easily. What happens instead of sleep, is crying, panic, a call to my parents at 2am because I can’t breathe, a boyfriend so loving and concerned for me and a trip to the emergency room. I am hooked up to oxygen and a series of doctors and nurses come and go all assuring me that I am good and healthy. I lie in the hospital bed feeling my breathing relax ever so slightly. John looks at me with those loving eyes and I am filled with hope that everything will be okay. There is hope, I hope……….
We are all hoping for something. Anxiety comes in when we fear that what we hope for may not happen. Nothing we hope for is certain. Things that we hope for come to be and only fill our hearts temporarily, leaving us hoping again, maybe this time for something different.
What if there is a hope that we can be sure of; a kind of hope that stays alive in us always? If there was that kind of hope, would you want it? Would you want to know where it came from? Would you want to know how to get it? Would you feel like you were deserving of such a hope? We all hope. The good news is that there is a hope that we can be sure of, one that stays with us always………………
The Broken Way