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What Hopelessness Feels Like

This is what hopelessness feels like, at least for me. 

It’s a deep depression walking out of your body ahead of you. It’s a ghostly fore-image playing out all the different scenarios in your mind of how to rid yourself of this feeling of hopelessness, none of them good. It’s the quick way. The way you take that makes all the pain and hurt immediately stop. You can see this apparition of yourself stepping in front of a subway car, or leaping off of a bridge. You watch all of these scenarios as incredibly precise images in your head, desperately trying to find the right one that might make the greatest immediate impact.

Hopelessness wants life to be done. If you are one of those people who believe in another plane of existence, you want to get there and you believe it has to be better than this one. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with idea that you can never imagine that the way you live, whether by poor choices or dark thoughts, will ever get or feel any better. You just want to get on to the next better thing.

Yes, religious and spiritual people have these thoughts too. Unfortunately, one of the worst lies a pastor can ever tell his congregation is that being so intimately attuned to God in some way means that this life automatically gets better, more successful, more victorious, if they just believe.

It’s just not true. 

It’s not true that doing more or greater religious things buffers you from the worst of life. If anything, you descend into it more, especially if you’re honest and know that even as you do those “greater religious things” it only makes you feel more like a poser or a charlatan. The super-happy all the time people, are lying and hiding their pain even more. Believe it.

Hopelessness comes for the non-religious too. For some of them, they just want everything to stop. They don’t want to wake up anymore. They just want it all to stop once and for all. If they truly believe that you live this life and then die and there’s nothing more, then yes, bring on the nothingness. It’s more preferable than wrestling with life and all its quandaries.

If hopelessness were a living, breathing person, it would whisper in your ear, buzzing constantly about death being the ultimate cure. It would lock arms with you, leading you to the edge, and wave bye as you plummet over into the abyss. It would help you swallow the poison and tighten the noose. It would literally lift each foot and place it front of the next as the train comes into the station.

Hopelessness wants you die, and it will sound like a friend guiding you towards it.

“It’s better than living with all this pain and hurt”

“You won’t feel depressed and sad anymore”

“You won’t care anymore about not having friends, and you won’t be a disappointment to anyone”

This is pretty dark. I know.

I just wanted to write about how I feel sometimes. How overwhelmed I feel by life, whether I have a legitimate reason to feel that way or not. Most people who take the hand of hopelessness and let it lead them away from this brief mortal existence, leave behind many people who thought they were happy and had a fulfilling life, and are now puzzled by their choice to leave it.

I am plagued by my own struggles in this, wondering sometimes why I catch break after break, while others suffer more loss than I. I’ve walked around with a slow moving “widow-maker” heart attack for three hours before I decided to go to the hospital, while friends I’ve know since high school have dropped dead on the spot. Why do I get that break? I wonder it even more knowing all my imperfections. I don’t believe in Karma, but if I did, I’d think it was horribly broken.

Now, despite my hopelessness, I also have hope, but they co-exist, battling one another for dominance. On any given day, it feels as if one wins out over the other. So there are days when I feel hope to the point of an endorphin-like rush, and others where I see those fore images, begging me to move on from here. I’m not bi-polar, or schizophrenic, I’m just honest about my feelings.

Where is my hope?

My hope… is in Christ.

It is something greater, and it anchors me. I mean, IT ANCHORS ME!

It chains me from following hopelessness too far down that rabbit hole of death.

Christ tells me I can endure life here, even if it is not easy. Even if I am at times, in my struggle and sin, my own worst enemy. I can endure for a time. This is how I know that the Christian life is NOT about successful living.

My hope is in Christ, and I still get down. I still feel hopelessness. I still feel depression. If I have a faith, it is absolutely, exactly as scripture describe, like a mustard seed. It is also the kind of desperate faith that scripture records when the father cries out desperately to Jesus, “Help my unbelief!”

This tiny, desperate faith keeps hopelessness at arms length. It’s close enough to feel it, to hear its siren-like call towards death, but for me, it’s just out of reach. I can feel the tug at the threads of my clothes with its outstretched fingers trying desperately to pull me towards it.

But for Christ, His grip is greater. His hold is firmer.

I am a sinner, struggling daily to be a better example, often failing. I am acutely aware of those failings, often sickened by the truth of it when it occurs, or simply when I remind myself of it.

God is my refuge in my hopelessness, but instead of running towards him to go and hide under the protection of his wings, I often wait for him to land atop me and spread his wings right where I am. That’s how faithful he is to me.

Your story may be different. This is mine. 

I have hopelessness. it’s always there. I also have hope. It keeps the hopelessness in check.

This is what my christian life looks like. I’m a mess of sin and struggle because of it.

But hope wins out,  even on the days hopelessness feels dominant.

This is my prayer for you. 

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