Hanging On or Hung Up? You Are Not Alone!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

On a recent drive through Grafton Lakes State Park a couple weeks ago, I couldn't help but notice something.  All along the winter entrance road, through the woods, my eye kept spotting leaves detoured from completing their autumn descent.  Some, like the one above, got stuck in protruding branches of trees, others even in more precarious positions hanging from cobwebs.  As I spotted and photographed more and more of them, my mind (always thinking in analogies) began to compare these suspended leaves to people, specifically people in crisis.  At times in life we all find ourselves in a position of 'hanging on'.....days when our fears, our pain, our circumstances seem so overwhelming, so hopeless that we are barely hanging on...sometimes by what seems like a thread.
This post was originally written last October but on our most recent visit to Grafton I remembered it and realized it is so relevant to the situation we find ourselves in today.  In the midst of a crisis that seems to one day be easing only to erupt the next, the past five months have been a test of everyone's ability to 'hang on' - to sanity and even to hope.  Many of us are isolated and even if we're seeing immediate family, life is still not the same as the life we're used to.  We are restricted in where we go, how we go, how we act when we go and many like me, just feel better not even going.  We were not created to isolate.  We are social beings who need and thrive in the company and companionship of others.  We are accustomed to our freedom to live, unrestricted and unmasked without the fear of exposure to a virus that could kill or permanently affect our health.  These times are challenging - for the weakest of us and even for the strongest.  I know I struggle with the isolation, with the uncertainties of what lies ahead and with the fear of what may not change.  We are hanging on by a thread and this blog post seemed to be a forecast of something even bigger than I was referring to when I wrote it.  I republish it now in the hopes that the words of hope I concluded with will help you today and in the days going forward.

Other times, we need propping up.  We need help.  We need the support of our loved ones, our family,  friends, maybe our clergy, our medical team.  Or perhaps they step in to help shoulder the burden, keeping us from falling into total despair.  They're there to cushion the blow and ease our fall.

Then there are other times when we aren't falling, we aren't desperate, but we get caught up in other people's drama.  I don't mean when we're being their support, I mean when we allow ourselves to get caught up in things that don't concern us, things we can't fix or control, situations brought on by someone else's bad habits or repeated mistakes.  We get sucked in, feeling the urge to help and soon we're frustrated and overwhelmed over a situation that is not our problem.  We're 'hung up' and we can't break free, even when we recognize we are in a toxic situation.

Whether we're hanging on by a thread or hung up, these leaves in their suspended descent,  remind me that we need each other.  We can't do this thing called 'life' alone.  We need to know when to reach out for a hand, a shoulder, an ear.   Like these fragile leaves, caught in precarious webs, life is fragile.  Too often we resist help when it's offered.  Too often we resist the outstretched hand.  Too often we find ourselves dangerously hanging by a thread fearing the one word that will be the final, deadly breeze that nudges us over the edge.
Just as we need to realize when we need help, we need to learn to recognize when our 'help' may not be helping others.  Sometimes our help does more harm to us than it does good.  Let's face it, some people actually thrive in chaos and crisis.  We need to learn to recognize when we are tangled in someone else's chaos and find our way free.   Co-dependent people spend their lives helping others, only what feels like 'help' to them usually isn't helping at all.  It's actually unhealthy and we all know you can't help someone who doesn't want help.

What I hear each week at church, and what I believe and was reminded of as I photographed these leaves in their various states of suspension is that when we are hanging by a thread, our sanity, our health hanging in the balance, or when we're stuck in a predicament we can't break free of, God is our support.  He is the thread that is preventing us from falling.  He is the obstacle that keeps us from crashing.  He is our soft place to land.  We are held in the palm of His hand.  When I look at this leaf, having landed on this soft moss, that is what I picture comes to mind....me being held in the palm of God's hand, safe from harm.
I hope that the next time you are hanging by a thread, stuck in a crisis or circumstances you can't break free of, feeling like your life is spiraling out of control, that you remember you are not alone.  Reach out.  Ask for help.  And know that you are held in the palm of His hand.

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