Hope in the darkness, tenacity and resilience.
Never in the world would I have thought I’d end up here. 23 years old, a couple of degrees to my name and a couple to go, battling mental illness. At 19 years old I was admitted to hospital for the first time in what would become the first of countless months in hospital over the next four years.
I have goals, I have passions, I have dreams and I have a purpose. I love to write, I love to read, I love to play music, I love to teach music, I love to look after children, I love spending time playing card games and board games with my family.
You see I was born at 600 grams, 15 weeks earlier than expected, and starting defying the odds of survival at a young age. What emerged through that time as a baby fighting for survival was tenacity, determination, motivation and purpose. As I survived when it looked like I may not, strength was building in a way that I needed then and a way that I would need as I grew much older.
As a child I loved to write. You would always find my head in a book and I dreamed of writing my own one day. I picked up a trumpet at the age of 11 and went on receive honours for my 8th grade trumpet exam as well as playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland which is one the most exhilarating and incredible things I’ve ever done.
At 15 I fell into a heavy depression not knowing what it was or how to survive. As I got older things became more complicated and I struggled my way through life. As the journey continued and I soldiered on, what I didn’t expect was the journey of hope and redemption that would occur through the struggle.
I used to think that struggles had to disappear for hope to be found. The darkness of night is relieved every morning by the sunrise. I thought you had to wait until the sunrise before you could breathe in the warmth and place fresh expectation and hope of a new day.
What I came to discover was that hope doesn’t need to wait until the next sunrise to emerge. Hope begins in the night, hope begins in the struggle, begins in the darkness. It is easy to wait until a new dawn to expect something new, to renew anticipation and to step into a new day. But sometimes the greatest revelation to our souls come in the darkness.
Many of us have, do or will struggle with insomnia at some point in our lives, I know I certainly have. In the darkness tossing and turning it’s so easy to long for the time when we fall asleep again or for the dawn to come, often we don’t appreciate the stillness. It’s so easy to place all that we can do into the promise of a day filled with sunlight, but often the greatest revelations can come in the night.
In the depth of the night, or in the depths of our struggles, we come upon our true strength. In the darkness of depression you come to see that you do have the strength to make it to the next day. In the darkness of grief you come to see that your memories will always be held dear and be looked upon with thankfulness. In the depths of a job loss or a relationship struggle you come to see that your worth is not tied to another human being, or a place of employment. In all of these things you come to see that tomorrow is never promised, what we had will always be something to treasure but not something to stay stuck in, and that no matter what the season we can always stumble upon and foster resilience.
Resilience is found in the darkness of the night, resilience is found in the unknown of tomorrow, resilience is found in stepping from the regrets of yesterday. I have the word ‘resilient’ tattooed on my collarbone to remind me that I have been, and that I have the ability to continue to be resilient. Resilience takes us from yesterday and places us into tomorrow with greater strength, a greater resolve of hope, and a tenacity that empowers us to run into our future with all that we have to give.
Don’t look upon yesterday harboring all that it may have taken from you, look to tomorrow with the expectation of taking what you’ve learnt and experienced, and turn it into strength. What you have learnt through the darkness of the night will carry you into the dawn of a new day. What you have been through has shaped you into someone that you can be now in this moment, and grow upon as you look into tomorrow. Your greatest expectations can be fueled by all that you’ve seen formed by how you’ve grown and put into action through all that you want to be and using all that you have to give.
If you’re walking through the darkness of a struggle I encourage you to look back and remember your strength. If you’re doubting how far you can go, look upon how far you’ve come. If you want to know how to make it through your next challenge, remember that you’ve already conquered mountains in the past and can use your tenacity to carry you through the next valley. From every valley comes a mountaintop, from every tear comes a lesson learnt, and from every new day comes a purpose that you can use to welcome the next.
You are incredible, you are loved, you have purpose, you can experience joy, and from your life can come a story of redemption and hope. This season will not be lost. You can step into the future experiencing hope, motivation and purpose. For now, take from the present what you can, rest in the moment that you’re in and know that your story is not over yet, perhaps it’s just beginning..