When I was in second grade I wrote a story about a little girl who was happy all day long. The sun was shining, the flowers were blooming and she was smiling. The End.
My seven year old self wished for that storyline. To be honest, my present day self sometimes wishes for that storyline.
But real life doesn’t work this way. Pain and joy are inseparable parts of the journey. Until I allow myself to feel the discomfort of pain, I can’t experience rich joy and deep love.
I used to think I was in control and I could keep pain away. In the days following David’s birth, I was devastated. We didn’t expect to have a child with a severe disability–but even if we’d known, how can one prepare for this kind of pain? I remember in those early days after David’s birth, I cried tears that seemed to come from the depths of my soul. I remember feeling physical pain in my chest as I wept. There was no escaping grief. It surrounded us and filled the room. Pain was in the air we were breathing. But slowly, over weeks and months, it began to dissipate. It’s not gone completely, but it’s not overwhelming.
These days, if I’m open to letting the dark sadness and anger creep in, I find it’s doesn’t make itself too comfortable. It moves through me and and then moves on. Sometimes it stays longer than I would like, but it doesn’t take up residence in my heart. And once it leaves I’m surprised to find genuine joy. Somehow, there is more room in my heart for gratefulness.
While none of us would wish for pain
Pain makes us tender
Tenderness nurtures compassion
Compassion helps us forgive
Forgiveness teaches grace
Grace gives us hope
Hope makes us brave
Bravery enables us to love