“It’s too late. It’s just too late for me. I’ve got to face it. I’ve got to stop hoping. I need resign myself to the fact that I’ll never get married. I’ll never have a family. It’s just too late…too late for me…”
All weekend these words had been repeating over and over inside of my brain. Another failed relationship had thrown me. I wept. I prayed fervently that I was wrong, that I COULD hope, but then in the same breath I’d get mad at God. Of course, I’d immediately apologize for getting mad at Him. Then I’d repeat to myself that it was just too late. I was too old. I had to stop hoping. I was a fool. It was too late…
Even in the depths of depression you still realize that you and the cat have to eat. So I forced myself to get dressed and go to Wal-Mart for cat food and cereal. It was a sunny, beautiful Sunday, but I didn’t notice any of that. Even as I walked through the store those words were playing on a loop inside my head. It’s too late. Stop hoping, stupid. It’s too late for you, Sherrin. You’re unlovable. No one would ever want you, especially now. It’s too late.
I avoided the gaze of every person I encountered. I was consumed by this overwhelming sadness in my spirit. All I wanted to do was buy my cat food and go home to cry. I finally found the things I needed and got into line at the self checkout. As I started to unfold my reusable shopping bags, a family got into line behind me. It was a well-dressed dad and his teenage sons. They’d obviously just come from church. I’d skipped church that morning, myself. I didn’t have to be there – it wasn’t my week to sing. The depression just wouldn’t allow me to get up and go sit completely alone, once again, amongst that sea of happy couples and adorable families. I couldn’t do it.
The man said hello to me. I said hi and started to unpack my buggy in order to avoid his gaze. I didn’t want to talk. Please, everyone in the world, just leave me alone. I began to shake my reusable bags out to hang on the rack at the checkout so that I could ring up my groceries.
“Those are nice bags,” he said. “Where’d you get those?”
I glanced at him briefly and replied, “I got them online. It’s a website called ____.”
I smiled but kept avoiding his eyes and continued to ring up my stuff. I just wanted out of there.
“That’s a great idea,” he said. I replied that I thought it was too, yes.
I hurriedly, clumsily finished buying my stuff and dumped it all into my buggy. As I ripped the receipt off of the machine I happened to look back and my eyes met his.
“Have a good one,” I said.
I turned and started to push my buggy toward the exit. I just wanted to be alone with my pain, away from people and their demands for interaction.
As I walked away the man said, “Hey, miss?”
I thought I must’ve left something. I turned back to look at the man.
“God wants me to tell you something. God wants me to tell you that it’s not too late.”
That’s what he said. *GOD* wanted him to tell me that it’s not too late.
My face immediately crumpled and I started to cry. Ugly cry. I managed to whisper a thank you and sprinted out of the store. I cried for hours that afternoon, but my tears started to shift from despair to hope and thankfulness that God would even bother to speak to me in this way.
So…That was five years ago. I know. A long time to keep hoping. From the outside, people wouldn’t think that much has changed in my life. Same job, same house, same church. True, on the outside I look a little different now, but on the inside…the change has been enormous. The pit of depression doesn’t trap me anymore. I’m constantly at work on my emotional and physical health. I’m determined to be creative and to learn and to live a life that I enjoy.
But now…as I face yet another relationship that didn’t work out, I feel that pull toward the old thinking. You weren’t worth waiting for, Sherrin. You weren’t pretty enough. Cool enough. Sweet enough. No one will ever love you. You might as well stop hoping. You’re too old. It’s too late for you. Stop hoping…stop hoping…stop hoping.
But then I remember that Sunday afternoon. I remember a nice man who was willing to heed the Holy Spirit’s prompting and give me a word from God. And I especially remember a God who cares so deeply for me and for the things that hurt me – yes, small, pathetic, sinful me – that He’d take the time to reassure me in a Wal-Mart checkout lane.
So life isn’t working out the way I’d like for it to. But I’m trusting God. He sees the big picture that I can’t see, and won’t be able to see until Heaven. I’m trusting that there’s a purpose for the hurt I feel, and for the growth it forces.
And yes…I’m still going to hope.