Turning hope’s lie into truth

Published 9:46 am Sunday, September 3, 2023

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“I have little hope this plan will succeed. But then sometimes, hope is the lie we make come true.” Taken from Superman: Space Age #3 by Mark Russell, Superman wrote this in a journal as he was attempting a truly impossible act: saving the human race from a world-destroying terror called the Anti-Monitor. If you’ve never read it, you’re missing out on an amazing artistic distillation of what it means to hold on to hope when everything else is lost. Ask Tom at Pamlico Books to order the collected hardcover for you. It’s something truly special.

I’ve read and re-read this issue so many times, particularly when my depression decides to come back home after a long sojourn away. By the way, I’m so open about my own mental health because I don’t think we talk about our common struggles enough. There’s still a stigma around mental illness, so I practice an extravagant vulnerability to normalize these conversations and to show people that depression is an equal opportunity destroyer.

Even if you aren’t lucky enough to be dance partners with depression, you surely have felt despair, fear, or one of the other many things that keep us awake at night. All of us have moments when it feels too hard to believe that the future is going to be something beautiful because our present seems so broken. All of us have been so down that having hope really does feel like believing a lie.

It’s then that we have a choice to make, a resolute choice that determines how we move through the struggle. Will we abandon hope, abandon the belief in a better tomorrow, or will we do all that we can to make our hope become a reality? That’s what it means to make hope’s lie becomes a truth that sustains us.

What does this look like in reality? For me, it means that on my worst days, when my depression tries to hide the world’s beauty, I run through my mind all the things that bring me joy. My wife and son, when we are all cheering our favorite wrestlers. The faces of the wonderful people of St. Peter’s. There’s more, of course. There’s always more beauty to see and embrace.

I think of the folks who organized and sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They had hope that the world could change, even though Jim Crow laws made that hope seem like a tantalizing lie. Through their painful and arduous struggle, they made their hope come true. The despair of that struggle threatened to break them, the terror of their oppressors an ever-present evil, yet they endured and modeled for the whole world what it looks like to make your hope real. They made the impossible possible.

Between the extremely personal struggle of my depression and the world-changing struggle of the heroes in Montgomery, surely you can find yourself. What has you in the vice grip of hopelessness? What is stealing your belief that life can be better tomorrow than it is today? Right now, remind yourself that the worst thing to happen to you your life didn’t break you.You’re still here, fighting against the gloom that tries to enshroud goodness and beauty in it’s suffocating cloud. You’re alive, even if right now you wish you weren’t.

If you’re there, standing on the edge of the abyss, don’t jump. If self-harm seems like the only way out of your hopelessness, I want you to know something. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are not a burden, nor broken beyond repair. You don’t deserve your pain, and it’s most certainly not a punishment from an angry God because of something you’ve done. I’ve been there, at the point of no return. I know how lonely it feels. Even though we might not know each other, I’m here for you. My email is chris@saintpetersnc.org and my office number is 252-946-8151. Let’s make hope a reality together. You’re not alone.

Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s Church in Washington.