I was watching a show the other day, and a line jumped out at me. I immediately hit rewind and re-listened to it a few times as I jotted it down so I’d get it right. The line was:
“I found that people are not looking for miracles: they’re looking for hope. And they only get that from people who have struggled and make the choice to keep going.”
I think the first thing that jumped out at me was a rebuttal, because I, for one, was certainly looking for a miracle. A miracle that Stephanie would be healed. That the cancer would disappear for no reason. That we would still get to grow old together as we watched our daughter grow. I didn’t just want it to be a possibility: I wanted it to be a reality. But clearly that didn’t happen.
But after that initial reaction, the next thing that jumped out at me was the word “HOPE”. It’s a word I’ve heard a lot, but every time I hear it now, I think about Stephanie. I think about how people have told me or written me about how she inspired people and brought them hope. And the rest of the quote is what made me realize why: Stephanie faced an immense struggle. Stephanie and I used to talk to each other about how blessed we felt in life and how lucky we were that so many things in our lives were going so well. So to receive the news of her diagnosis was gut wrenching and crumbling. To say it was a struggle to have the possibility of your entire future together ripped away from you would be quite the understatement. And yet that’s what we faced. At that point she really had two choices: she could wallow in her unfortunate situation, or she could embrace it and live the reminder of her life as best she could.
Looking at it now, it doesn’t seem to be that difficult of a choice, because one way clearly seems like a better way to live than the other. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice to make in the moment. I think every one of us can think of something that’s gone wrong in our lives, whether it’s something like a poor grade on an assignment, to someone not returning our interest of love, to losing a job, losing a home in a hurricane, or losing someone we love. No matter how “small” or “large” the thing that went wrong, depending on your point of view it can seem to be large. But we all have the same choice. And I know from my own experience that I’ve struggled with choosing to see the good in struggles and instead choosing to just soak in the disappointment. It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback and say how something should have been handled, but it’s much harder to make the choice in the moment when you’re the one faced with the situation. When it comes down to it, we each have the choice to let that hurt or disappointment destroy us, or we can choose to live despite it, and thereby spread HOPE.
I think one of the best parts of Stephanie’s story is that she faced something that hopefully no one reading this will: she was faced with losing her life at a young age. And despite how much “worse” her situation was compared to whatever you or I face today (hopefully), she was able to choose to live. That in itself gives us HOPE that we can do the same, that we can look to her choice as an example for how we can respond to our own dilemmas. Because every time we choose to live despite our misfortunes, were also spreading HOPE for others who face something similar. And every time we choose it because of the way Stephanie chose it, we’re continuing her story and continuing to spread her HOPE.