Sometimes, life throws us under the bus — without our consent, without advanced warning, without a way out. Whatever the loss, whatever the struggle, when that moment comes and we are confronted with that thing that threatens to destroy us, to diminish us, to detour us from what matters, that is the moment we discover who we are and what we’re made of.
There is a well-known story called “The Shadow Self” in which a grandfather explains to his grandson that there is a battle raging inside every person. He says, “My dear one, the battle between two ‘wolves’ is inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” After pondering his grandfather’s words, the grandson asked, “Which wolf wins?” to which the grandfather replied, “the one you feed.”
When life circumstances dictate defeat, it’s easy to wallow in self-pity, to focus on the negative, to isolate ourselves and believe we are the only one suffering. Truth is… we aren’t privy to others’ plights, to their disappointments, to their sorrows and challenges. If we were, we would recognize that we are not alone, that many are suffering much greater loss and sadness than we and that the self-pity we claim as our own can only drive us into greater despair.
So, what’s the answer when what lies in front of us feels beyond overwhelming? There can be only one response, if we wish to thrive in the midst of turmoil rather than recoil in defeat. That response is HOPE…
- Hope that the circumstance in which we find ourselves isn’t going to last forever
- Hope that when all is said and done, we will be stronger for having suffered
- Hope that there are people out there who love and care about us even when it seems otherwise
- Hope that today’s sorrow doesn’t have to diminish tomorrow’s joy
- Hope that the life we dream of is attainable
- Hope that in the darkness there is a glimmer of light leading to a better place
- Hope that, even in the midst of desperation, there is good
- Hope that our story will be someone else’s survival guide
When life seems too difficult to endure and we find ourselves at a loss for how to continue, that’s the time we must reach into the depths of our soul to find even the slightest glimpse of hope and hang onto it with every fiber of our being.
We have a choice — we can listen to and coddle the wolf that shouts to us in the darkness, telling us to give up and give in. Or, we can listen to the faint whisper of the wolf who says, all is not lost; suffering endures for a season — then comes the morning. Which wolf will you feed?