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Against All Hope

So what is the point of it all…keeping your purpose and focus when life is more than difficult?  How do you cope when life continues to throw at you all that is sour, bitter, disappointing, and painfully excruciating?  And how do you cope when you feel this has been your lot in life…to face the wall of financial adversity over and over again?  The Bible says we all have a cross to bear.  I believe it is true and for our family the cross has been repeated times of financial strain.  I wish it were not so but this is the truth.

I ask these questions rhetorically, not really looking for anyone to answer, because I believe most people are unqualified to answer these hard questions.  Those with a charmed life cannot address adversity with any measure of authenticity.  There are many people who believe they possess great faith and trust but in truth, they buy their way out of financial stress or strain.  They are fortunate enough to have great jobs, savings accounts, rainy day funds or they just have good luck.  I am not sure what it always is, I just know lots of people cannot relate to financial difficulties.

And of course, there is the comment people love to make that something is drastically wrong in your life if you cannot get ahead.  Really????  I do not view this as a Biblical response.  Nor do I view it as compassionate or loving.  It is however, riddled with judgment and laced with accusation. 

In my 23 years of marriage to Glen, we have faced unbelievable times of difficulty.  But what I think is worthy and admirable is that in all this, Glen never gave up hope.  He has been accused of jumping from one thing to the next or as one who is unsteady.  Those who have judged him so, refuse to see that life with mental illness can be brutally unforgiving.  It is hard at best and to find ways to go on when everything in you says quit takes remarkable strength and courage.

Glen is one such warrior.  In our 23 years of marriage he has repeatedly refused disability as an option for him.  Instead, he has always found a way to keep going even in the face of great distress which many will never know anything about.  And in all these years, he has hoped and prayed his life would account for something besides financial gain.  After all, there is more to life than money.  But of course, we all know you have to have it to live.  Somehow through these years our family has survived.  At times we have felt the pressures ease and have enjoyed the freedom to bless our children with a few extra enjoyments. 

With all that life has thrown at us, we felt our mission was to find a way to give back and help others.  It has been viewed as a scornful occupation by most of our religious friends.  I had high hopes that people would jump on board and praise our decision to help others.  It seems I believed in people more than they deserved, for over the past two years this journey to help others has been way more difficult than I ever imagined.  There has been little to no outside support for our cause.  A handful of people have viewed our lives and work as worthy.  We have had more complements for our selfless lifestyle from strangers and the non-religious than from those who have known us for many years. 

Our family has worked to provide a living for ourselves so as not to be a burden to anyone.  I am most grateful the God gave us a way to work for it has given us a great sense of satisfaction.  We have worked and worked hard; harder than ever to accomplish the task of sharing our lives with the world.  We have made it our mission to tell as many people as possible that there is hope…even when life seems to continue to give you  lemons, there is still hope somewhere in all that sour mess. 

For the past three months our family has experienced some extreme adversity.  It began with attending some art shows that provided less than the necessary weekly income.  Then we began to experience troubles with our Ford F 250 truck.  This in turn caused us to miss out on 5-6 vending opportunities.  The downward spiral was taking its toll.  The truck problems became increasing with no way to pay for the repairs. 

Hope has begun to wane and at times we felt we were at the bottom with no way out.  I give you all the background in hopes that some will understand what we are up against.  Our largest group of friends are religious people.  Sadly many of them aren’t too Christian.  Before you jump off the boat and write me off, please hear me out.  These people are the most critical and judgmental.  And as I said before, I gave them more benefit than they deserved.  Not but a couple in this pool of acquaintances has stepped up to support our family mission.  And it is a mission – mental health work is as worthy as any mission work out there.  Saving one life, including your own, is worthy of support.  Saving one life and giving them hope is worth everything or it should be.  We say it is but we don’t live it out.  Walking with our mentally ill friends takes courage and stamina of monumental proportions.  This is where most people take the bail out.  It’s time consuming and draining.  It requires hours of selfless love and devotion for which most people have little patience. 

I have walked with my husband for 23 years.  I know from personal experience the grit, strength and fortitude it takes to walk alone side a man who suffers many times in deep silence and isolation.  I have witnessed the painful heartache. I have heard the hopeless cries for understanding and acceptance from his peers.  And sadly, I have witnessed those cries going unnoticed. 

I cannot make people understand.  That’s why this is so frustrating.  And you begin to wonder how you will ever make a difference just scraping by.  How can we help others when we ourselves have such limited resources?  It’s a question that’s worth asking.  In our recent days of desperate need, we have concluded that we will struggle for our entire married existence.  We have concluded that our Christian friends are few and far between and we are grateful for the less than a handful who have stepped up to offer some relief.  And we wonder who might care if things bottom out?  Will anyone notice that our cause was washed away because people did not care?  Probably not!

Before you accuse me of being bitter or harsh, you need to walk where I have walked.  Before you say our family just wants a handout, you need to reconsider.  All causes are funded by donations.  And on the personal level, many persons with mental illness take disability to help provide.  Those two changes would greatly bless our mission and bless us personally.  It also important to take into consideration the life, the road, the journey, the hours, the moments, the days, the person, the cause…and when you have done all that you can address me.  Otherwise, your advice will probably go unheeded. 

I am not sure where we will end up.  I have no more answers left.  I have asked all the hard questions only to end up with no answers.  Truth is life is just hard sometimes, and sadly some people have a more difficult road than others.  Some get all the lucky breaks and some will never get their break.  Before you say get over it, consider the person who might feel they need the break to go on.  The death of a dream is never easy.  Dreams are what keep some of us going.  We dare to dream the impossible which some never even dare to do. 

I am unsure of a lot of things today.  I am unsure of tomorrow, but by sheer grit I choose to believe God knows and will take care of all my tomorrows.  We are still here: he has not left us yet, though I have wondered where he has been on many occasions.  I hope he still hears us.  I hope he still will answer our cry for help.  I hope he still believes that selflessness is more worthy than those who live only to please their vain ambitions.  I hope he never leaves us and I hope he comes through to relieve the painful financial stress we have encountered for months. 

I can only hope that just one who reads this will be stirred to action.  I can only hope that some who have worldly goods will see the purpose of their abundance is so they can bless others.  Most have it all wrong.  They say they can’t help but the truth is their money possesses them and they can’t envision giving any of it away.  I can’t help those people.  I can’t help anyone see what I see.  I can only hope some will see and step up to bless our family and mission. 

God bless us and God bless Concerts of Hope!

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