Some days can be really hard. Once, soon after I moved to a new neighborhood, I was walking with a friend who knew almost everyone on the street. She helped me make new friends in the area and one day she told me, “You might not be able to tell it from the outside looking in, but you should always remember that there’s a heartache behind every door.”
I learned over time how right she was. There are so many kind, generous people who have come to mean a great deal to my family. From the outside, so many of them look like they live perfect lives. They put on their Sunday clothes to go to church every week. They teach Sunday School. They smile and wave at strangers driving through the neighborhood. They help their kids with homework.
What you can’t tell from the front doors, is that one mother has cancer, one has a son struggling with depression, and one has a child who was kidnapped by his dad. One person has Lyme disease, a couple of them have MS, another woman left an abusive husband. One man just lost his job, a little boy is autistic, a family had a baby die. There is a heartache behind every door.
But I learned something else. There are a stories of faith, endurance and hope behind those doors. One mom learned how to cook a special diet and watched her children’s health dramatically improve. One woman saw her marriage improve in ways she never expected as she renewed her commitment to her personal faith practices. A man started his own business and mentored others to succeed for themselves. A woman found courage to leave a dangerous situation. A mother reached out to comfort and help other families who have suffered great loss. One family mowed the lawn of a neighbor who was going through a medical challenge. All summer. They mowed their neighbor’s lawn all summer long.
Hope comes from unexpected sources, but I think most often it comes from people around us. We draw strength from each other. Somehow knowing the trials a neighbor has and helping them in ways large or small, makes our own challenges more bearable. Seeing others triumph over a bad day, week, or year, gives us hope that we can endure and come out better on the other side as well.
So today, I just want to speak hope to someone who might be struggling. Hold on. You can get through the challenge you are facing today. You only have to take the next step. One at a time. Breathe the next breath. Remember you are loved. If you think no one loves you, reach out. Talk to a neighbor. Visit with someone at the library. Listen to someone else’s story. Donate some time. Or blood. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Read to a child. Hug an old person. Pray for someone. You can do this. God will help you, or He’ll send someone to help you see your way through this day.
And tomorrow? God’s got a plan for that, too. Remember you’re not alone. Heartache and hope are close traveling companions. I know this because I live behind a door, too.