Often I go through life struggling with one issue or another and I get completely wrapped up it that issue. I let it rule my life and define my self worth. I rage against God for letting it happen. Then I blame myself for not being holy enough, assuming that it’s some sort of punishment. These reactions are all futile. They only foster bitterness and more pain.
A few years ago, I experienced an especially painfully situation. My husband Josh had cancer and had to go through treatment. The treatment got rid of the cancer, but we found out later after trying for over a year to start a family, it also left him sterile. We were told we could never have children. I went through all the usual emotions and, for a while, fell into depression. I was facing the death of a lifelong dream. It felt like my life would never be complete.
When you have an experience like this you find out who your true friends are. And you discover amazing friendships in people you may have least expected. They are the people who can sit with you while you cry, listen while you vent and acknowledge your pain. They don’t try to fix you and offer endless advice. They understand it may not be the best time to quote James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”, because, trust me, “pure joy” is the last thing you are feeling at that moment. True friends forgive you when you shut down and can’t hold up your end of the relationship. They are the ones who support you when you finally get up and begin to re plan your life.
Now, a few years down the road, I’m able to look back and see the hidden blessings. I see the old friendships that grew stronger and the new friends gained. My marriage is stronger for surviving the rough patches. I’m doing things now I never would have dreamed of if I hadn’t been forced to rearrange my life goals. We became foster parents and have three beautiful foster children. I can’t imagine a life where I never met these children. I don’t know what the future holds or where they will be in the years to come, but I know my life is richer for having known them. I have learned invaluable lessons about love and the pain involved when you choose to love someone. I’ve also experienced the highs of love, and the joy of hearing a child call me “Mom”. Josh and I have learned how to be a husband and wife as well as a dad and mom.
There is still pain and there probably always will be unless we receive a miracle, but looking back I can honestly say I’m thankful for the things I’ve experienced. It’s allowed me to know the joy and blessings I now possess.
I’m once again brought back to the words of Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
Originally written on 6/23/2011