I began journaling just 22 days after Drey died. Some days I didn’t have much to write at all – other days I couldn’t write enough. Writing engages a different part of my brain. It forces me to think more deeply and more deliberately. As I look at what I wrote last year there are some things I just can’t share. I had planned to take everything from my journal and put it into this blog. But some of it’s just too personal, too sacred. The groaning was truly too deep for words.
Despair, anguish, heart wrenching, sickening, ache, gagging, heavy, dark, lonely, fear, all consuming, no escape and suffocating. These were the words I attempted to use to describe how I was feeling. But those words sound shallow and superficial. The pain was acute. Eating, moving and even breathing were no longer things that came naturally to me… they were a deliberate choice. I didn’t think I would live. I was sure I would die of a broken heart. I praise God for bringing me to where I am today – a year later.
This Saturday Delaware and Morrow counties are hosting their 3rd annual suicide prevention and awareness walk. One of my new friends who also lost her son to suicide (it’s amazing how we find each other) will be speaking at the event and she’s asked me to join her and to speak as well. The topic will be personal sharing and a message on hope. Kim has an amazing personal story to share about this journey. It will be hard not to cry. I’m sure she wants to honor Nick the same way I want to honor Drey. We want our boys to be proud of us.
I’m not certain of what I want to say yet. I do know that in the midst of this pain I have hope. True hope. Not just wishy washy fingers crossed hope. According to the Greek and Hebrew translation & it’s biblical usage the word “hope” is an indication of certainty. A “strong and confident expectation.” What I’ve come to learn through personal experience is that hope is not a feeling. Hope is a choice. I didn’t feel hope in the weeks or even months that followed Drey’s death. But I knew this wasn’t the end of Drey’s story. And I knew God was still at work. He did not cause this tragedy but it did not catch Him by surprise. I had to choose to believe what I knew intellectually to be true. My feelings needed to take their rightful place no matter how loud they were screaming. My feelings were not the truth. Sometimes God gave me feelings of calm and peace in the midst of the shock and despair. Wow – that was amazing. Sometimes He still does that. Sometimes the feelings aren’t there. But the absence of feeling hope does not make biblical truth – biblical hope – any less real.
In addition to learning that hope is not a feeling but a choice – I’ve also learned it is an ACTIVE choice. A mindset that is accompanied with ACTIONS of hope. Being part of other people’s lives especially when they’re hurting, being part of a suicide prevention fundraising Walk team, crying out to God in spite of my uncertainty. These are actions of hope. Actions of confident expectation that the Lord is at work in spite of what I don’t see or feel.
Psalm 31:24. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” The verse becomes even more REAL for me when I say it this way, “Be strong and take heart, all you whose certainty is in the Lord.” or “Be strong and take heart, all you who have strong and confident expectation in the Lord.” This hope is mine! God says so! Yes!