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)
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