Empty Toilet Paper Rolls and Hope

“E!” I yelled.

“Did you put this massive pile of empty toilet rolls under the sink?!” Frustration prickled up my neck and round my forehead. In my end-of-day search for a towel and a shower, I discovered a pile of empty toilet rolls crammed under the bathroom vanity. As I knelt on the bathroom rug, pulling one roll after another out from under the sink, a little blond head appeared in the doorway, sheepish grin on her lips:

“Yes, mommy. I did it.”

“Why?!!” I said.

“I felt bad for them. So, I saved them.” 

“You felt bad for empty toilet paper rolls?” I rolled my eyes, not surprised.

“Well, how would you feel if you were thrown out with the trash?” said she, protectively.

Empathetic E, always rescuing socks without their mates, caring for half-dead bugs and stray cats, and when it comes time to let things go—like that shirt from kindergarten or a broken toy—she clasps it tightly against her body, sobbing.

It’s hard to let go of things we love, whether big or small.

As we grow up, it’s even harder to let go of dreams—good ones—like close relationships with extended family, that ‘perfect job,’ a disability-free life, or watching your baby boy, the one who got cancer at six, grow up.

Like little E, when forced to give up good dreams and desires for what seems like no-good-reason-at-all, we dig in our heals, scream, sob, fight, or fall into the darkness of despair.

Losses, big and small, reveal what we really love, where we really find our hope and salvation—good health, relationships, career, money, family, ___________.

“So God, in his wisdom, chooses to trouble [our] normal sources of hope, so [we] find hope in Him.”*

We do not need to scream and shout, run, hide, or panic, when life doesn’t turn out how we planned because God promises that he is our Hope and is up to something good in our lives.

This spring our family, along with two other dear saints, Audra and Kenneth, have lamented our losses, big and small, and found Hope knowing God is using our losses to draw us closer together and deeper into Him. Eight-year-old little E shared her lament last of all, and the child-like simplicity of her lament captures the heart of them all:

“Dear God, I do not like that my mom got rid of my favorite shirt. I loved that shirt so much and I knew that I was never going to see it again, and I get sad of things when they are in the trash. I want your help so that I can learn to get rid of things without being sad, and I need to know not to hold onto things so tightly, even if I love that thing so much.” Esther. 

As a group of sinners, sufferers and saints, we’ve wept, prayed, laughed, and grown together, spurring one another on to believe this truth:  I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to me. Even when you wander far in doubt, question my goodness,  and hope in other things, I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you—I will restore you and bring you back to me, and give you Hope. (Gen. 28:15, my paraphrase)

*Tripp, Paul. My Heart Cries Out. Pg. 142.

*If you or your small group would like to join us in learning how to lament your losses, click here for a PDF booklet on Learning to Lament, written by the Trauma Healing Institute. It’s accessible to a variety of ages and stages of life and maturity.

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