Practice Hope – By Julie Schulz. Member Blog, Day 18

I’ve had my share the last few years. Our oldest son struggles with addiction. The fallout from that journey has put stress on my relationships with my husband and younger son. I’ve had two hospitalizations, one broken neck requiring surgery, and I discovered at age 48 that I was adopted, something I never knew or suspected. So yes, I’ve had my share.

When I was asked to write about hope, I started wondering why it is that I’ve been able to not only cope, but work, parent our children, and even find some joy in life. I can answer only that it is people who have given me hope. My people. My people from so many places. We all get uncomfortable telling others that our lives aren’t going well. We don’t want to be pitied, or be the topic of other people’s conversations.

But by telling others, by allowing them to see my needs and my pain, I have found strength and hope in the kindness of others. My family and my husband’s family, who showed up in the hospital. My neck surgery brought our older son back into our lives within one hour of the accident. My husband, who was with me throughout my hospitalizations, who visited every day in the hospital and brought candy for me to give to the nurses and doctors so they thought of me as the candy lady, and did all the heavy work of bringing me home and caring for me with deep tenderness. Our sons, who visited me and held my hands while I cried. The pastors of Gloria Dei who visited me and prayed with me. The hospital staff, and one nurse who was a former first grade student, caring for me with tenderness and skill. My therapist, who used her great skills to help me see things in new ways. My work colleagues who did my tasks and sent food gift cards. My dear, dear friends from all over, who showed me with their actions that they love me by showing up, giving me rides, planting my flowers, walking my dog, and staying overnight with me in the hospital. I have found that the world gives you what you need, sometimes with stunning precision, exactly at the right time.

I was at the YMCA recently, and offered to help a woman in the locker room with her clasp on her suit. She smiled at me and said “it is hard to go it alone”. I answered “we are not supposed to go it alone”. And that to me sums it up. God doesn’t mean for us to bear things alone. If we open ourselves up to others, if we ask for help and let others hear our pain, we can get comfort and can endure our share. I have learned to let go of the things that I can’t control. It is deeply challenging to watch your children be in pain and be unable to take that pain away. But all I ever have needed in the painful moments is someone to walk side by side with me. Pain creates strength. I am stronger not despite the tough times, but because of them.

I found this quote recently that spoke to me about life. “May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to give you peace.”

Thanks be to God for people. My people.