By Brian K. Woodson, Sr.
There was a time where all I thought about was how to end my life. Disappointment soaked in sorrow, followed by despair, took over my every conscious thought. The friends I had, either left or were abandoned, and the love I needed so desperately, did not exist. I am wonderful now. I am living happily ever after. But I hope never to forget the lonely, forsaken cave of depression that once was the only home I had.
I understand those who fight the battle of depression. I know, like only one who has lived it can know, how sweet and seemingly inescapable some sadness can be. I know that hopelessness is not a weakness but a narrow place that some of us have to go through. A famous Psalm speaks about God as the shepherd who sometimes leads a person to the valley of the shadow of death. I know what it is like when the pain is so loud and sharp that one cannot distinguish between the pain and one’s own life. Yet, I want you to know there is a difference between our lives and the sharp, piercing pains that seem to possess all of our being at times.
What is missing in the heart that is so badly broken? What causes the heart to lose its value and joy? Is it Hope? Hope is the engine of life. Hope is the motor that powers our movement along whatever life-giving path we seek or are traveling. Without Hope, there is little reason to live. Yet, when I had lost all Hope, there was very little anyone could say to me that could pierce the dark curtain of despair that called me to welcome death as the only path out of the pain.
But one of the things that kept me alive was my two sons, who were only small children at the time. I knew that growing up without a father, and even worst, growing up with a father that had committed suicide, was a guarantee that their lives would be miserable if not tragic. So, I kept living not because I had any hope for myself but because of my Hope for their lives. So, you see, Hope gives us life even if that Hope is held for someone else. And you can have Hope because all Hope is, is a fantasy created by our imagination.
Imagination is the precursor to everything. It is the most powerful force in the universe. Anything you touch, interact with or depend on was born first in someone or some team’s imagination. Within almost every religion, the imagination of the divinity or divine brought the planet and what we call nature into existence. But imagination, as powerful as it is, is not benevolent. Many years ago, my imagination set on self-destruction, thought constantly of different methods and ways to end my life. Imagination in the minds of some has rained fire and destruction on innocents in war. Imagination has given birth to both wonders and horrors.
But the imagination can be tuned to hope. Our imagination will always obey our commands. And when we instruct it to find the good and promising things that exist in the present world, it will. When we tell it to build a wonderful future out of chaos and ruin, it will. When we grip the reins of our imagination and demand it climb out of despair, it will obey.
Still, there is one other ingredient required to sustain Hope in any life. If Hope is the engine of life, faith is its fuel. Faith is simply the belief that the good things one imagines are possible. We believe in these possibilities and move up life’s road powered by our hopes until the possibility becomes an inevitability. Faith gets up in the morning and tries. That is faith’s only task; to believe enough to try!
These days my mind is controlled by wonderfully hope-filled possibilities. Not because the world has become delightful or because the grass is green and my fortunes are overflowing. I have a beautiful life because I see it through the lens of an imagination turned to beauty. It took me years to get here and a lot of prayer and the love others planted in my heart, but if I can get here, anyone can.
If you add Hope and Faith to your deliberate mental diet, your heart will be lighter. Indeed, the world, circumstances, and the situations we find ourselves in are sometimes terrible. There will be days when chaos will reign, and some combination of shame, abandonment, or betrayal will take the joy out of being a happy you. But if you take your imagination and point it toward the future and tell it to create something beautiful, it will. And then when you see the-happy-ever-after in the distance, fire up the engine, pour in some fuel, and head in that direction. There may be some detours, road hazards, or just plain horrible traffic, but you will get there. God guarantees it!
Servant Brian K. Woodson, Sr. began adulthood as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force where he was a designer and project officer. He left the USAF and answered the call to ministry and is currently the founding pastor of Oakland’s own Bay Area Christian Connection. Servant BK is an Organizer and the Director of Clergy Development at Faith in Action East Bay (formerly named Oakland Community Organizations) and the Director of the Emerging Leaders Program at the Leadership Institute at Allen Temple. He is an ardent advocate for human rights and a writer and published author of many articles and the devotional book “Meditations of a Madman: The Musings of a Hated Man Loving God”. His long-awaited first novel, “Purplynd” has been recently released and is available online and wherever fine books are sold. Servant BK Is the husband of Valerie McCann and together they have Joshua, Josiah, Brian, and Harmonie.
Posted in: 2022-Sustaining HOPE Project