Hope and useless lifeguards

Disclaimer: this isn’t a “what-we-did-last-week” kind of a post. If you want to hear about rainbows, butterflies, and sunshine, skip this one and check back next week.

When I was a teenager, I had a recurring dream that I was in a pool swimming with my brother. He was inside one of those inflatable rings and he would slip out and start going down into the water and I couldn’t reach him, he would just keep going deeper into the pool. I would start screaming repeatedly for the lifeguard, whom I could see, but he couldn’t hear me because my voice wouldn’t come out above a whisper – then I would wake up.

In my real, happening-right-now life, there are some things making life overwhelming. Liam has been showing more unusual behavior all summer. In addition, for Liam, the baby has gone from strange-little-being that seems to need mom a lot to public-enemy-number-one who is intent on grabbing my stuff and is moving unpredictably around the house and MUST BE STOPPED AT ALL COSTS. Coupled with my own struggles with an inexplicable mix of fatigue and pain that seems to come and go….I feel like I am living in that dream, just to a soundtrack of weird guttural repetitive noises and screaming. The person slipping through the ring is my son – and I’m about to go under too. My voice is not loud enough, and there’s nothing I can do. Every day is the same, I’m treading water, just trying to stay afloat and screaming “help… help… HELP!” and the lifeguard says things like:

  • “I’ve already pulled you out nine times, and the master plan doesn’t allow for more…”
  • “If I can first prove you’re drowning, then we can get started on pulling you out…”
  • “You’re doing a great job, treading water there, and trying to get my attention.Keep it up!…”
  • “There are 47 other people drowning at this exact moment, you’re not special, and my hands are tied…”
  • “If you would just sleep train that baby, you wouldn’t be drowning in the first place….”
  • “Uhhh…just try harder…”

Danggit, crappy, useless imaginary lifeguard, PULL ME OUT! Enough already!

The sermon last week was on Hope. As I was thinking about this stuff, I felt like God was whispering to me, “Where is your hope?”

Hope. Right.

Not hope in a diagnosis, hope in the insurance company, hope in another round of speech/occupational/behavioral therapy, hope in a specialist doctor, hope in a program, hope in a new routine. Those things are good, and necessary, but they make for crappy lifeguards. They disappoint and my hope is met with disappointment yet again.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. –Proverbs 13:12

I honestly used to read this as “Not getting what you hope for makes the heart sick, but when that thing you hoped for happens, it is a tree of life.”


Hope itself, that is the thing. Hope, the desire to see the good that never ever fails, that is the tree of life.

Hope is the thing that lets me see each day as a gift, that lets me get up in the morning and work through the pain in the feet and my hands and believe that every single thing I pour into my children has purpose.

Hope is the thing that keeps me moving forward, even when I feel like I am slipping backward.

Hope is what allows me to hear the promise that “great will be your children’s peace” (Isa 54:13) and believe it even when it doesn’t look true sometimes.

Hope, real hope, is the thing that I need more of, that I want to permeate every cell in my body and thought in my head.

So, that’s where I’m at – learning to press into the hope that my faith allows, so I can do this thing. And in the meantime, if you can think of a way to gift me a nap, I’ll take it.

Back to unicorns, adventures, and sparkles, next week. Promise.


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