The Color of Despair

The Color of Despair

When you first get the bad news, you know. It's going to bring you down low.

Undoubtedly, it's bad timing. You see, you're poised at the tip, already down-angled. You're feeling sad, off. You have these moments from time to time — we all do — but tonight, this particular dead-end sends you spinning fast, spiraling low.

It's not that today's rejection tells you anything new.

You have a rather faithless habit of preparing yourself for bad news; in fact, you expect it. But, frankly, you wish this particular No would not have been so long in the making.

Why not a No in July, instead of a Maybe in August? Why let that Maybe grow into a hope all Fall only to fall flat with a January finality?

And now, you find yourself wondering: What is the color of despair?

{You're reminded of Anne of Green Gables and her “depths of despair.” Well, yes, her despair was tinted chartrusese, along with those ill-fated locks she dyed green.}

But, yours… your despair? It's colorless, clear. And, it comes in salted waves. You sit by the bathtub as your three-year-old bathes, and the sadness comes down translucent. You let it roll down your cheeks freely as he plays, oblivious. You don't bother with tissues, just use the heels of your hands when the tears reach your jawbones, dangle, and tickle. Only then do you palm them away.

You absently finger the “geronimo” cheetah, recalling that one inspired night you started flinging him into the bubbles with the wild call, and it became a thing. How easily those tosses inspired belly laugh after belly laugh!

But, tonight, you rest your chin on the bathtub ledge and view Geronimo up close. You see a drop of water hanging from his plastic cheek, and think, he's crying too. {Why, cheetahs have tear trails, don't they? Those black lines leaking down…}


The next morning, you're reading Genesis, the story of Noah and the flood. {You've read it enough times before for sure, Genesis 7 being an eminently reachable spot in your frequent “let's read the Bible the whole way through” zeal.} You're struck by how the children's story version that sticks in your head recalls only 40 days and 40 nights of rain, when it takes months and months for the waters to recede enough for Noah and his family to step foot on dry land. In fact, your study Bible helps you do the math, and you realize {somehow for the first time} that Noah spent an entire year inside the ark.

Your momentary crisis of faith has shaken you; you imagine your mind churning like the tumultuous waves that tossed the ark. God-sized dreaming — giving up a good job for none, reaching for ludicrous goals {ones you would have laughed at yourself for a year ago}, stepping out of your comfort zone readily and often — well, to be honest … this whole business has lost its appeal and fast. All your work seems to have been for nothing.

And, in fact, you want to go back to your old life, thank-you-very-much, where your chief ambition was to finish your latest assignment as quickly as possible, collect your paycheck, and numb any thoughts of more with a glass of wine and a hunk of good cheese.

This next day, you're able to talk to God again, and you ask for a sign.

On Sunday, it comes. Pastor creates a Sunday school lesson just for you. He spends the hour detailing the beauty of the promised land — how the grapes are so lush and heavy, they must be carried between two strong men — and the Israelites' immediate response of despair that the land is already claimed.

The parallel is so obvious, your face must flame, and when he asks: What does this mean to you, Beth? you stammer not. You have lived this already, this wilderness wandering, this flimsy faith.

And you rejoice when God flings His rainbow across the sky in spite of it all.


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  1. I’m speechless (as always)…your words are just that beautiful. God has given you such a gift, friend. 2013 was much like that for me…and it was terrible at times. Esp to come from what 2012 had been. But almost on the last day, God redeemed it. God is molding you for big things. I know you probably want me to stop saying that but I feel it down to my toes! A double rainbow…wow…God repays double!! Hang in there and mark this day down so you can remind yourself of His very real promise to you in the tough times. He is on the move!!!

  2. The words “color of despair” makes me think of a song from my favorite musical Les Miserable. The song is Red & Black and of course, black is the color of despair. I know this place well and I step out onto the water of my own God-sized dream I am sure I will come back to this place again. Thank you for sharing your journey and the reminders that God is there. He sees, He knows and whenever we need it He is always there to remind us that we can take another step because of the promise that He will be with us. Oh and I LOVE the name of your blog.
    Makeda recently posted..You Are Loved {Coffee for Your Heart}My Profile

    • Thank you, Makeda! I love how you put it– stepping “out onto the water.” Just like Peter walking toward Jesus, when we get frightened or doubt, that’s when we sink. No doubt, I describe a sinking moment here, but I love how we are redeemed,remarkably, by His promises (despite our fear and doubt and insecurity!).

  3. Woman, you can WRITE!!!

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