Faith, hope, and love do not prevent the darkness. They do not spare you the pain. What they do is give you something to hold on to during the pain and something to cling to when nothing seems to matter.

Lately I have experienced the truth that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the choice to act despite being afraid. I am beginning to feel similarly about faith, hope, and love.

We are led to believe that hope is the absence of despair, that you have no hope if you feel hopeless. In fact, this is not always the case. Hope is the belief that your hopelessness will not last forever. Hope is believing that your despair is temporary. Hope is not the absence of darkness, but the belief that you will eventually find the light.

Similarly, faith is not the absence of fear or doubt. Faith is choosing to believe despite fears and doubts that you may have. Faith is choosing to place your trust in what you have felt and experienced to be true. And love is not the absence of heartache, but the choice to feel despite knowing you can be broken.

So, yes, I have been thinking of suicide. No, having hope and knowing that I’m loved has not kept the demons away. But having hope and faith and love has helped.

I know the darkness is only temporary. I know the pain is only temporary. I know that if I can just make it through the night, the morning will come. I know that if I can hold on to hope, I will be okay. No matter how many times depression returns, no matter how much I think about suicide, as long as I can still hope, I know the despair will not last.

That’s what hope is. It’s not never going into the dark; it’s believing there is a way out of the dark.