When we started Eternal Anchor almost six years ago, we had a long discussion about what the name of our organization should be. In the end, we settled on a name that had strong connotations of hope and security. When life is chaotic, we all crave stability. A boat being anchored to the seabed in a tumultuous storm is precisely the imagery we wanted to invoke. Most people living with a disability or mental illness, as well as their families, experience some of life’s most difficult challenges; fear of the constant unknown, frustration with universal inaccessibility, heartbreak from watching loved ones suffer, and pain of perpetual loneliness and isolation are just some of the common, recurring realities correlated with disability. It is a group of people living in constant chaos and starved of stability, a group often seeking for an anchor to cling to.
There’s a Bible verse in Hebrews that says hope is an anchor for the soul, but what happens when we feel that hope is lost? What happens when we don’t feel safe or stable? Where, then, is the anchor we so desperately need?
I’ve now been a foster parent for children with special needs for more than seven years. When I started, I had energy and passion and excitement. It fueled me every day and gave me confidence to be the best parent I could be. I remember thinking to myself early on, “this isn’t so bad. I got this!” Yet, with each passing year I’ve noticed a change in myself. My energy is depleting; my passion is often overshadowed by overwhelming responsibilities and burdens; and my excitement has been replaced by pain and fear as I experience with my children a relentless barrage of health issues, mental health breakdowns, discrimination, and isolation. I find myself reflecting on the process of picking a name for the organization, and instead of an anchored boat weathering a storm, I feel like my kids and I are drifting in a hurricane with nothing to cling to. I ask myself, “Where is the anchor?”
I’m blessed to have a community who can manifest the answer to this question. I had a pretty rough week and just when I was feeling most hopeless, I received a beautiful message from a friend. She empathized with my pain, challenged me to be gracious with myself, and reminded me that I’m not alone. It by no means erased my pain and struggles, but her simple message of solidarity felt like a lifeline.
I debated whether or not to send this out, but I think it’s a timely message that most people can relate to. We all go through rough patches. Living through periods of hopelessness is a universal human experience. Something that has helped ground me is the arrival of friends and family saying, “You’re not alone.” We are all living through unprecedented times and many people around us are struggling. I encourage you to consider your community and who may need to hear: “You are not alone.”
I’m proud of the chapter Eternal Anchor is entering. We don’t pretend to have all of the answers. We don’t parade around our community behind a mask of perfection and composure. We are a community of broken people with the sole purpose of manifesting God’s love to families who feel hopeless. We do our part to be an anchor of hope to people suffering because of disability and mental illness. At the same time, we welcome the anchor of hope our friends offer when we feel hopeless.
To those who partner with us to make this happen, I cannot thank you enough. To those who are inspired to join us by praying, giving, or volunteering, I urge you to reach out to discover how you can help. Together, we can love and be loved, encourage and be encourage, and manifest hope to those hurting around us. We can be an anchor to one another during life’s craziest storms.