Hope and Sickness

Have you ever been so sick that you were confined to bed-rest?

I have. That’s where I was for an eternity and a half. I laughed; I cried. I went crazy, Bob. To be completely honest, I didn’t even stay in bed for the entire month I was supposed to rest; as soon as I felt better (the first week) I returned to normal life with a passion I haven’t felt for a long time. I even looked forward to work, and no healthy American would ever admit that. I was curious to figure out why my enthusiasm was much greater than usual, and it got me thinking about several topics, the most prominent of all being hope.

First, why is the day-to-day life dreaded? I suppose, if you aren’t as lucky as we are at the Writing Center, your boss might drive you crazy. Maybe your classes bore you, or maybe your professor is a psychopath who thinks the students are all his guinea pigs. After weeks, months, or even years of this treatment, plus all the other things like family and friends and humans being annoying, we start believing that tomorrow isn’t going to be a good day. Tomorrow, in fact, starts looking like a putrid pile of pure pain.

That sort of thinking, as easy as it is to fall into, is very dangerous.

Let’s look back to when I was confined to bed. All the days blur together for me. Basically, I didn’t want to go sleep. I didn’t want to wake up. I didn’t want to eat, or drink, or exist. I lost pretty much all hope that I could get better, because I was so caught up in the pain. I focused too much on everything that had gone wrong. Losing hope that our everyday lives can be wonderful is similar to being sick. I’d call it worse, since it can’t be diagnosed as easily as a physical symptom. Losing hope is like losing faith in God. He wants what is good for us; why can’t that look like a good day? (Yeah, I mean every day. But that’s another blog post.) Sometimes, I pretend that losing hope is smart because God isn’t a vending machine, and He doesn’t promise flowers and happiness and loads of money to His followers. But He does promise Himself. And He is very, very good, indeed.

Ever since I was diagnosed with chronic depression last winter, I end up relating most of my thoughts to my fight with this mental illness. (Suffer, my poor readers!) Hope is, by far, one of the most useful skills to develop when fighting things like anxiety and depression.  I say it’s a skill because it takes discipline to look at the world, circumstances, and others in a positive light and tell yourself to think well of these things. Negative thinking literally shapes your brain; negative thought breeds negative emotion, and negative emotion causes the brain to produce certain chemicals. In the same way, positive thinking can help a body function correctly. But not stupid thinking: the best kind of positive thinking is realistic and rooted in truth. Just because chocolate is positive doesn’t mean one can eat a truckload of it. That’s even worse for the body.

We still don’t know much about the brain. A lot of it is a mystery. But what we do know is that it’s an incredibly complicated thing. If we think, and look closely enough at anything, it’s extremely complex. The atoms that form molecules which bond together to form everything are complicated. I can’t even list half the periodic table, and those atoms can come together to make an infinitely more lengthy list of molecules. And these molecules bond together to form an infinitely more lengthy list of things. Look at your hand. Every cell in your body was intelligently crafted, beautifully made slowly over the years into what it is now. God knows where it all came from and how it was made. He was there at the beginning, and He will be there at the end. Like the Bible says: if we know how to give good gifts, as corrupted as our hearts are, imagine how much more does He!

So even when the body fails, don’t forget hope. It is a joy to be able to work and to be able to do productive things. Creation is beautiful, and we get to be part of it. It’s a miracle we exist. “There’s good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for!” It’s worth enjoying, and praising the One who made it.

Written by Isaac

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Hope Restored

Hope Restored

Josh’s heart raced like that of a mouse scuttering from boulder to boulder, escaping the molting lava of Pompeii. Or, as a meerkat, fleeing the thudding hooves of a herd of Wildebeests. But Josh would have been content with either situation, for his predicament was far worse.

As a mere freshman, Josh faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle: English 2301.

Testing out of freshman English, Josh entered college with chest held high. Destined to be the next Mark Twain, no English class could daunt him. So, he barged into his first class session of 2301. Bypassing the trembling students in the back, Josh strutted to the front row and stared the professor in the eye. Breaking a moment of awkward silence, the professor asked, “Can I help you?”

“No, but I can help you… teach this class!” Josh remarked, not releasing his glance.

But, when he saw the syllabus, everything changed.

“12 essays!” Josh exclaimed, “This is impossible!”

The professor chuckled and said, “Some professor you are, freshman.”


Josh sat on his couch agape. “What am I going to do?” He asked his roommate.

“You should visit the Writing Center. They’ll write your paper for you,” His roommate replied.

A sparkle graced Josh’s eye and his dreams shone anew. There was hope for his future. Navigated by destiny herself, no obstacle could impede him.

With the speed of Hermes, Josh rushed to the Writing Center.

“Here are my 12 essays. Write them for me.” Josh demanded as he flew through the Center’s door.

The receptionist calmly replied, “Sorry sir. We assist writers in developing their capabilities. We won’t write it for you, but we can certainly help you.”

Taken aback, Josh fell to his knees; once again, his dream slipped from his grasp.

“Do not be dismayed,” reassured the receptionist. Her hair burned golden in the light. Josh swore he saw an angel.

“Help is here.”

A hand grasped Josh’s. Leonard, a Writing Center consultant, pulled Josh up.

“Though times are rough,” Leonard stated, “You can’t give up!”

Leonard sat Josh down at the nearest table and said,

“If we work together, we can accomplish this task.”

“I now know that: though college is difficult, hard work pays off,” Josh responded, tears welling in his eyes.

Leonard grabbed an MLA instruction packet and sample essay. He and Josh discussed the rules for MLA, looked over the sample paper, and brainstormed some ideas for Josh’s first essay.

“See Josh,” Leonard explained, “the thesis is like a roadmap for an essay,” Josh nodded in agreement, “It is a brief, clear statement of the argument of your paper, helps you plan your paper, and helps your reader see how you divide your main ideas into subtopics.”

“Wow!” Josh exclaimed with fist held high. “Now I can write all my essays for English 2301 without having a panic attack.”

Restored, Josh galloped out of the Writing Center. As he skipped away, the sun set an orange aura on the horizon. Hope was alive, and so was Josh.

Co-Authored by John Brock and Ben Jones