You wrote me a letter. I know you’re going through a hard time. You emailed me from a hospital room, and I know that you’re about to crack from stress.
I don’t know how to respond. I wish I did. I know you want me to say something like: “It’s going to be okay.” But how can I say that?
Your daughter is dying in the ICU. Your life is upside down. You need real comfort. But alas, I am just a guy who maintained a 1.24 GPA in school. I can’t see the future. If I could, believe me, I would have become obscenely rich from last year’s World Series.
Still, although I’m no Stephen Hawking, I know what NOT to say in times of trouble. I’ve been through plenty of rough times in my own little life.
Without a doubt, the last thing you need is one of those B.S. clichés. “It’s gonna be okay.” Or “Trust in God, it’s all going to work out.” Blah, blah, blah.
This is the kind of nonsense people always quote like parrots when you’re going through heartache. I know this because after my father’s suicide, people said this to me right and left. They walked through the funeral reception line and said things like:
“God has a plan.” “Trust in Jesus.” “Don’t worry, everything will work out,” “It’s going to be alright.”
I have a friend, for instance, who has been stuck in the hospital for 5 months. He’s going to die. The doctor is telling him he has a 2 percent chance of living. His organs are shutting down. His heart is wearing out. Are you going to tell HIM “it’s going to be okay”?
Or what about the young woman, Sierra, who is dying of kidney failure in the ICU, as we speak, in North Dakota? Her family emailed me this morning. A dozen people are gathered around her bedside, weeping. Is SHE “going to be okay”?
So I’m not going to lie to you, Anonymous. I simply won’t. I don’t know how things will turn out. I don’t know whether you will get through this without scars. I don’t know whether the manure will hit the fan. I don’t know whether anything will go back to normal again.
But. I do know a few things.
I know these things from personal experience. My personal story doesn’t matter, but I have been through a lot of monumental crap my ownself.
When I was a kid, my father shot himself with a .12 gauge. He locked himself in his brother’s garage and used his big toe to pull the trigger. And my life was never the same.
My father’s family disowned us. We lost everything. I was 11 years old when I started suffering from what a doctor might call clinical depression.
My single mother raised us on pennies. I became an abject failure. I didn’t receive an education until I was in my early 30s.
And I am going to share with you what I learned in that dark time, the entirety of what I know to be true. It can all be boiled down into two words.
Nothing good lasts. Nothing bad lasts. Nothing in this world lasts. Not a blamed thing in this life endures for more than a few minutes. It comes and it goes. Bottom line.
People don’t last. Feelings don’t last. Happiness doesn’t last. Sadness doesn’t last. Circumstances don’t last. Nothing—and I mean nothing—lasts.
Rainstorms approach, then dissipate. Triumphs happen, then unhappen. Famous corporations fail. No-names prosper. Movie stars collapse. Overlooked fools succeed. Nothing is predictable. Not a godforsaken thing lasts.
There is only one thing in life that endures. Do you know what that thing is? The goodwill of heaven. The kindness of the Almighty. That’s it.
This mercy from On High is so plentiful it’s nonsensical. It defies knowledge. But it lasts. It never dies. And that is all I know.
I’m sorry, Anonymous, I know you wanted words that were more eloquent. But alas, I am no poet. I am North Florida white trash. I have no credentials. The only qualifications I have stem from my own suffering.
I’ve known pain. I’ve known hell. And I’ve also known the celestial grace of the ages. And it is the only thing I know.
So hold onto it. Because it’s yours, just like it’s mine. No matter who you are. No matter how you live. No matter what you believe. There are no magic words you have to say to receive the goodwill of heaven. No special handshake. No club to join. God belongs to you. And vice versa. It is already so.
And even though it sounds clichéd, even though you don’t believe what I’m about to say, even though you can’t see it:
Everything really is going to be okay. I swear.