When Hope Feels Like a Stranger
It’s an honor to introduce you today to my friend Matt Mooney, who offers honest, hopeful words for those who hurt. He writes from the trenches of grief, and of healing. His son Eliot died after only 99 days on earth. And today, Matt holds out a light for all of us…
I remember the quiet. Though it seems a bit preposterous, I swear by it all the same. It was the quiet that screamed through our house like a freight train.
It was the lack of buzz; the absence of the very community and energy — that just days before had been a constant. All during our Eliot’s life, it took a village. Not in a cutesy way, but in a real way. As in, the care for his life required involvement from others and they stepped up and showed up and cared for us so well in the sweet 99 days that encapsulated his life. That was what we got with Eliot — 99 days. Miraculously more than expected and yet nowhere approaching enough.
Then he was gone. And nothing showed up to replace him. Nothing. Just silence and absence and a void that can only be described in terms of darkness and weight; this feeling that has no face, yet I meet many who recognize it all the same.
I wrote this story out in a book for many reasons: for my kids who came after, for me and my wife who needed the process more than we knew, for those dear ones who ensured we were not alone in our walks through low valleys.
But if I had to choose one reason I pursued the writing over three years and through the chaos of three kids; the motivation that pushed past ample rejection from publishers — those who looked for a griever that walked the party line a bit more closely. If pressed for the one reason above all others, it would be this….
I wrote it for the one who hurts.
The one that hasn’t the will to get out of bed today — though they’ll get up just the same. The one that can’t imagine mustering the strength to read a book because something they can’t put a finger on has up and taken off. Some crisis has happened or possibly even worse, has not; either way, to the hurting, hope seems a stranger — a faint remembrance of days gone by.
I wrote this down for you and you know who you are.
I never found the next line that makes it all better for you — not a quote nor a gift and definitely not a book. At the time I wasn’t looking for you, I was looking for me. But I wrote it down nonetheless, desperately hoping that some day it would end at the very place I sought. I wanted to craft a map; instead all I can muster is to turn around and shine a light on the way I came, hoping that you catch glimpse of the bulb I’m waving.
You may not be ridded of the crushing weight of the world that befalls you though I hope you find what I have not. Instead of going around it, you can go through it. I have. I am.
I am not strong. I am not willing my way forward. I am simply walking toward the lights of others, carried by the strength of the One who proclaims His strength within my weakness.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(II Cor 1:3-4)
“At thirty weeks pregnant Matt Mooney and his wife Ginny were informed that their child had a genetic disease Trisomy 18.
They were told that birth was unlikely.
That life was not viable.
That a bleak future awaited.
They were not told that they would get 99 days with this child and these precious days would change them forever. Through the sleepless
nights, an unrelenting desire for answers, and
the frightening reality that slides in where optimism once resided, Matt and Ginny walked with family and friends through the life and death of their first born son.
The story of Eliot was featured on Oprah and the Today show. A video of his life was watched by millions on Youtube. But the story of Eliot’s life and death is not the end of this journey. Through the impact of his life, a legacy has continued.”
Matt Mooney’s book, A Story Unfinished, chronicles a father’s journey of pain and redemption and the mystery of God and His goodness in the midst of it all.
Reading Eliot’s story is an ushering into the holy grace of God everywhere — the art of now that could make life a masterpiece.” ~ Ann Voskamp, author of the New York Times Bestseller One Thousand Gifts2
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I thank you for these heartfelt words. And lightbulbs. Thanks for lightbulbs. I do not need them now but you never know what the future holds so i will pass this on because maybe someone i know needs these words. Maybe for themselves or a friend. Eliot must be up in Heaven giggling with joy over the legacy he’s left.
I too have often known when hope felt like a stranger, sometimes all too well. I still find myself often “walking towards the light of others” to help get through it, those that helped pull me out of a pit so deep I couldn’t even see the way out. God bless him for sharing his story of hurt with all those of us who also hurt in different ways.
I am “The one that hasn’t the will to get out of bed today — though they’ll get up just the same. The one that can’t imagine mustering the strength to read a book because something they can’t put a finger on has up and taken off.” My husband passed in January of sudden cardiac arrest. Your words hit home in a hard place…”Then he was gone. And nothing showed up to replace him. Nothing. Just silence and absence and a void that can only be described in terms of darkness and weight; this feeling that has no face, yet I meet many who recognize it all the same.” The pain is 24/7. Maybe reading your book will help. Thanks for words of grace.
Oh Matt, What can one say in the face of your truly heartwrenching words? Can one say that what you’ve written here IS truly beautiful? And FULL of Hope? That’s what I feel as I read. I just know your book will touch the hearts of millions…and minister to the pain of others. What a gift you, and sweet Eliot, have given. Bless your heart, and the heart of your family. I mourn with you. I mourn for you. But, we do not mourn as those who have no hope. This is the gift of God.
First of all, the writing itself is captivating and flows through the grief in such a real way, that’s what I first noticed. And then the story itself is so gripping, and sad, and beautiful. I was truly touched. I predict many lives will be moved by this powerful story. The light of Christ will shine through it. Thank you for sharing this.
Blessings to you and yours as you shine His light.
Thanks for the kindness and encouragement.
The depth and strength of all of this is very inspiring to me tonight