Divide Your Hope

Years ago I met something new in someone special. This person had been in my life for many years and I had never noticed, nor even considered how wonderful she could be. The person I knew was hardened with years of bitterness and anger, waiting to be unleashed upon any unlucky person to cross her path. She reacted with weaponized anguish, internalized, concentrated and directed with laser-like precision at anyone who unintentionally offended her and didn’t care who was struck by the shrapnel. Her onslaught was limitless…until she was caught off-guard.

She met someone and carefully pried open her steel-barred soul to him. She said it became obvious that he had dealt with far more pain than she had ever experienced. It made her embrace him because for the first time, she felt she had someone who understood her and maybe their broken pieces could be reassembled together. Over many months, I was privy to witness the change she and he cultivated. They became patient and loving, kind and generous, full of long-forgotten self-control and gentleness. It was the most beautiful of things. Her attitude and demeanor toward her family and friends was new and refreshing. She became the amazing person we always spied within…until things went wrong.

Somehow their relationship soured. They let in habits of old and recycled patterns of abuse. A year to the day, they were no longer together. I don’t know what happened to him, but I know that amazing person she became was locked away within three months and replaced with someone even worse than before. No amount of love and support from the outside would open that door again. Her friends, now gone, and her family, mostly gone, wept with sorrow as if death had placed its icy hand upon her.

I don’t think this experience is particularly unique. It has happened in some retold manner to someone in your life and possibly even you. Some of us are built to live every trial by our own error; others can see a sad story and avoid it. I’ll never understand. Why did she return to the darkness that tormented her? Why couldn’t she see the experience of all those good attributes and feelings and run away with it? Why would we ever again place all our hope in someone who is going to fall or fail? I did that too when I was 17 and it almost cost me my life.

It’s okay to trust. It’s even okay to trust those who fail us sometimes. It’s wonderful to be loved! It’s even better to love those who have not love. It’s so important to have hope, but it’s imperative that hope be divided among many things, many people, and that which is yet to come. That’s my secret. That’s how I thrive in this world that fails us. Love. Forgive again and love more. But divide your hope.

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