I remember getting home from work and walking the dirt path that connected my backyard to theirs. I remember going into the house through their back door and sensing a heavy fog of uncertainty and frustration as she and my dad sat in the unknown of her mysterious lack of health.
Then she got the diagnosis: Parkinson’s.
It was handed to her like a new script for her life.
It was as though Parkinson’s itself entered our family as an obnoxious and unwelcome guest, forcing itself on my mother and saying to her, “here you go, here’s the new you,” and as hard as my mom fought against accepting her new role, the forcefulness at which it was thrown at her made it unavoidable.
As the days passed by, they took with them the ease of daily mundane tasks.
Parkinson’s did its darnedest to steal away all joy and hope and in all honesty, some days it succeeded.
Things such as vacuuming, grocery shopping and walking across the room became huge, steep mountains my mom was forced to climb, or tumble down trying. Parkinson’s did its darnedest to steal away all joy and hope and in all honesty, some days it succeeded.
This was the life my mom had no choice but to live in.
Frankly, it sucked.
Her new life now consisted of neurologists, tiny red, blue and opaque pills, special diets, and a motorized scooter. For a time in the beginning years of her diagnosis, friends and family would call daily offering her fragments of hope,
- “Did you watch Doctor Oz yesterday? He said a cure for Parkinson’s is less than ten year away.”
- “Did you see the interview with Michael J. Fox? Look how active he is.”
- “Here, try this supplement/herb/essential oil.”
But this strange illness trying to take over my mom’s life did not seem to care about scientific advancements, and the supplements, special diets and essential oils, which never seemed to do the job they claimed they could do. The offers of hope being thrown my mom’s way always seemed to fall flat.
We quickly had to realize we could not place our hope in doctors or medication, in special diets or scientific breakthroughs.
The only place for our hope to find a home was the very place it sprang from—Jesus.
Maybe you are in a place of hopelessness today.
Maybe, like my mom, you are battling an illness that is trying to take over your very life.
Or maybe your hopelessness is in the form of a severed relationship, loss of control, unmet expectations. All of us have either been there or will be there at some point in our lives. Here are some things to remember when hope seems so far away:
- Hope is a choice: Some of us are clinging to hope like a lifeboat, holding on tight with both hands, trying to pull ourselves onboard. For others, hope is the pin sized hole of light at the end of an all-consuming tunnel. Either way, we’ve got to hold on. It’s one step in front of another, breath in, breath out, repeat. If there is one thing my mom has taught me during the past ten years of Parkinson’s, it is that you cannot have hope if you do not choose it.
- God is a God of Hope: While hope is a choice, there will be moments when choosing hope seems impossible. I know for my mom, and for our whole family, there were moments, especially early on, when the only feelings floating around our lives was one of hopelessness. I believe in those moments we need to remember, God is a God of hope and He has already chosen us. When it is seemingly impossible to choose hope, have peace siting in His good graces and His love for us. The hope will come…it really will.
- It’s okay not to be okay: So you’re feeling sad or overwhelmed or frustrated. It’s okay. Maybe you’re going through something where one day you feel great and the next as though you are falling off a cliff, it’s okay. Sometimes trying to fix a tough situation is more difficult than just sitting in it and letting things be hard. Hard is not necessarily bad, sometimes it’s just hard. So often the hope we are looking for is waiting for us there, in the muck and the mud. My mom told me that once she sat in the hard, muddy places Parkinson’s forced her into, she discovered beauty in the form of compassion and empathy. Sometimes the only way to discover hope is by sitting in the dirt from which it blooms.
Today, my mom still has Parkinson’s.
But because of the hope she has in Jesus, Parkinson’s does not have her.
The past ten years have taught her hope is going to win, every single time.
She knows this life is a blink and she knows from where her hope comes. She has learned and taught me along the way, when you place your hope in Jesus, no matter how far away it may seem, it is always right there.
This blog post originally appeared on Storyline and was republished with permission.