I’ve been in a fight for over a decade.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m fighting with Hope, wrestling in the desert through the dark of night, begging for a blessing. But this long-standing fight, this particular back and forth of daily cries and deep sighs and tears rolling down cheeks, is a fight for hope, a fight to hope, a fight of hope.
Even now, writing these words brings tears to my eyes. It’s true that hope heals but also? Hope hurts. It’s risky.
When you’ve hoped for something time after time, month after month, year after year, but then everything stays the same, it’s easy to become resigned. Numb. Disillusioned. Apathetic. “God is working in our waiting” sounds lovely until we’re actually waiting. Until things fall apart. Until the diagnosis, the phone call, the silence, the pain, the day after day of the same. It’s still true; it’s just harder to hold onto.
Twelve years ago, I had brain surgery. When they took out the tumor, the symptoms stopped and the insomnia began. It’s taken its toll in a thousand unseen ways, all of them worth it to still be here all these days, but there isn’t a word for the exhaustion that has become my normal. Sleep. All I want is to be able to sleep. To have the energy needed for each day, the bandwidth to show up for my people but not completely crash afterward, to experience rest in a body that tosses and turns until the sun rises and it’s time to throw the covers back and begin another day.
I read the story of the woman who bled for twelve years, who spent all she had and tried absolutely everything. I can feel it in my tired bones, the absolute desperation in her fingers, her mind, her heart, her broken body reaching for the fringe, one last grasp toward hope.
I hear it in the words of the two disciples as they left Jerusalem, disappointment and despair coloring their conversation as they walked toward the village of Emmaus. I can hear their confusion as they discuss the news that arrived that morning, their heartbreak as they share the story with the stranger who joined them on the road.
“We had our hopes up that He was the One,” they say. “We had hoped…” drifts away with the breeze as they put one dusty foot in front of another, unaware that Hope is literally walking them home.
I think of this as I make another doctor’s appointment, as I pull into the parking lot and dare to show up, knowing that hope might crash down again. After all, it’s been twelve sets of 365 and the only thing that seems to have changed is that I sleep less than ever before.
If I’m honest, at this point it would be easier to give up the fight and avoid the heartbreak of disappointment. There would be a relief in saying “it is what it is” and attempting to make the best of it, firmly shutting the door on the hopeful expectation that something will change. Twelve years of prayers, of tossing and turning in the dark and yawning throughout the day, tells me that choosing to hope again is not just risky—it’s foolish.
But when I remember the man who wrestled with God through the night and walked away with a limp, the woman who desperately reached out and was named “daughter,” the disciples who didn’t recognize Hope Himself until He blessed and broke the bread as they sat down for a meal, I see a God who doesn’t tease, a God who comes close and says hope won’t put us to shame. I don’t actually believe “it is what it is” . . . I believe it’s so much more, so much better. I believe the God of the entire universe became a baby in a womb and that what was once dead can rise and walk alongside two discouraged friends on a road to Emmaus. More than twelve years of history tells me the Author is good.
With everything in me, I believe God is healer. What I’ve come to see, though, is that healing doesn’t always look like what I’ve pictured. Sometimes the answer to our prayers is not a yes or a no but a Person. We get God, and in my desperate reaching, I’ve found Him to be enough. Will this year bring healing? Will I fight for hope only to watch it crash down? I don’t know, but I’ll risk finding out, trusting that Hope will be the anchor and no matter the coming waves, I will not sink.
There’s a mystery and a miracle in the blessing and the breaking, and while I’d choose just the blessing myself, I know Him most intimately in my heartbreak. It’s only when the One who truly broke reaches out and breaks the bread that they can truly see: Every hope that felt dashed was held in nail-scarred hands. Every prayer was heard. Every heartbreak was seen. Every tear was witnessed. They spoke in past tense, but Hope was present, always there, walking right beside. They were never alone.
Our waiting won’t be wasted. All that is broken will be mended. We will not be put to shame.
I’m getting my hopes up.
A note from Kaitlyn:
It’s been 12 years, to the very day, since I first heard the words “you have a brain tumor.” The surgery was successful, and I’m very grateful, but there’s more to the story I’ve purposely held close. With so much of my earlier health history find-able and public knowledge, I’ve felt pulled to be extra intentional in what, when, and how much health-related information I share online over the last ten or so years. For whatever reason, though, something shifted over the last few months and slowly, ever so slowly, I’ve sensed a nudge to begin writing this out little by little.
This, the long in-between of the story, where I’m fully confident it could change in an instant and I have no earthly idea if it ever will. This, the conscious decision to say it IS an in-between and not a forever. This, where I’ve prayed and my people have prayed and it just gets worse. This, the up and down of watching hope rise and crash. This, the finding that God does sustain, the very real proof that God’s mercies are always enough for the day, one day at a time.
Put simply, one of the lingering “after effects”—my everyday-normal looks like falling asleep as the sun begins to rise, then soon rising myself to begin the day. I’m perpetually exhausted and determined to remain expectant. I’m a person who cares about dates, a person smiling with tears in her eyes writing this, certain that it’s no mistake this post, this altar of remembrance and flag of hope planted firmly in the ground, was supposed to go live twelve years to the day everything shifted. We don’t pick our dates at (in)courage . . . In April, I felt it clearly: It’s time to try putting words around this ongoing fight for hope. In May, I started the post and began showing up for weekly medical appointments. I turned in the words, not realizing when they would be live (right here, today), and all I can say is that God is a God of the details. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is lost to Him. Nothing is beyond His sight, even the day on a calendar, and it’s a small thing but man it matters to know you’re seen.
Hope hurts, sometimes. That’s true. It’s risky. But it’s also an anchor in the waves, a Person who broke so that our heartbreak might be redeemed, our hope never put to shame. Emmanuel, walking us all the way home.
I’ve been in a fight for a decade. I’m getting my hopes up.
If today’s post resonated and you’d like more encouragement, Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in Between will help you choose hope for tomorrow when today feels like a question mark. Learn to shift from the suspicion that God isn’t kind or present to the truth found in Scripture: on every single page of the story, God is with us and working all things for our good.