Gratefully, At The End of My Rope

Life’s challenges will come — and they will go.  It is the dash between the two that determines the fortitude in our steps. The journey can be tangibly visualized with some twine and a pair of scissors in hand.  Hope is not naive or lofty.  Hope is a purposeful response from within one’s heart.  Hope fuels our response to whatever comes our way, the good and the not so good.

Tanis Taylor, a writer based in London England, spoke eloquently about why hope matters. “Hope is an essential attribute in care-givers, a predictor of success within business, academics and politics … and [it] equips us well for adversity, giving us the drive to start another day/project/relationship.”  Her words met my eyes like a high note in a song.  In returning from a vacation, I was back to my search and confirmation mode – was I still doing the right thing with my time and energy? Was it all still necessary and valid?  Confirm my footsteps, dear Lord, I prayed.  It is how Hope Matters (Productions) began, and it is how it continues.

It was back in 2009, when I wrote my first book to help a friend explain a cancer diagnosis to her 2nd graders.  No one talked about it when her own mother was going through it.  Hiding it sent unspoken messages that resonated for decades: “cancer is a secret” … “you don’t talk about cancer” … “cancer is bad” … “they don’t trust me” … children’s minds run away with untruths when truth is not forthright.  There is another ripple effect when things are hidden from those we love the most.  Hope in adversity can only shine if it is spoken about, as if it is an integral part of the journey.   I searched (“where’s the book for these kids that doesn’t water it down and builds up hope?”) and it was confirmed (“you see something missing, maybe God’s telling you to do it!”) like a whisper inside my heart.  Together, page by page, prayer by prayer, my friend and I brought hope to her 2nd graders.

“We encounter obstacles all day long, but a hopeful person generates more pathways through.  The difference between getting there and getting stuck is a matter of mindset.  We can give up at hurdles, or we can continue to hope,” Taylor explained further.

Along with its thrills, our vacation had some hurdles too.  My credit card was compromised by some all too clever thief … jeez!  My husband’s cell phone went surfing with him in the ocean … oops!  Still, we chose to not let either mishap diminish our hope of a good vacation.  Hope isn’t lofty or naive. Hope is a purposeful response from within one’s heart.  Hope fuels our response to whatever comes our way, the good and the not so good.  With some twine and a pair of scissors in hand, I can tangibly visualize how such challenges (and more intense ones) bring us closer to where we really want to be.  You see, if I start with the length of my height (a 5′ piece in my case), and spend a day taking a snippet (cut an inch or two) off the rope for each new challenge I encounter or for each ongoing challenge, the result can be quite exhilarating.

Many would view the leftover as being at the end of their rope – like having the short end of the stick.  But wait!  That remaining rope, at the end of the day, can actually bring you closer to hope’s magnification power. The smallest piece (leftover) serves as a visual of your greatest blessings.  If there is little rope to cling to, we are likely to more clearly see and be grateful for, its end – where retrospection is often at its finest.  The end of our rope shouldn’t equate to finally inviting others into the details of our lives (the good, the bad, and the ugly).  We all need the humbleness of being helpers and encouragers. Every day is a gift with a finite beginning and end (just like a rope).  What we choose to do with today can give us hope for tomorrow; it is what “drive[s] the start [of] another day/project/relationship,” as Taylor says.

One snip at a time, we can get closer to the end of our rope … and thus closer to God and others.  Too much self-reliance often creates too much distance from those we love the most.  The more we hold onto, the less hope can serve as the fuel it is intended to be.  Circumstances often change as we change our mindset.  Life’s challenges will come — and they will go.  Bear in mind, it is the dash between the two that determines the fortitude in our steps.  Go, one snippet at a time, with hope inside your heart, and grateful even at the end of your rope.

Gratefully, my searching at the end of vacation was confirmed by two unexpected phone calls.  “I have been meaning to get in touch with you for months.  Please tell me about the memory cafes and how I can bring our nursing home residents,” the caller said.  YES, I will continue that community outreach, I whispered emphatically.  Then, another call.  “Is this the little pink book author?  …. my friend has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I am a two-time survivor … can I still get your book?”  Those calls are what I like to call God-wink moments.  Little affirmations that come in a big way!  And, my friend diagnosed back in 2009 is still going strong and her students have moved forward as encouragers in this hurting world.  Please keep sharing hope, because hope matters!


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