By Melissa Whitehead
Recently I've learned how connected sorrow and joy really are. When we're young we experience smaller levels of pain and with it a smaller understanding of joy. As we grow older our problems and pain grow but our joy can grow with it.
Think about some of the situations people talk about being the "best moment of their life." Maybe winning a championship, their wedding day, the birth of a child, etc. If you rewind several months before each of these things take place, they might be saying it's one of the hardest things they've gone through. The physical and mental effort it takes to win a championship isn't always glamorous. Dating the wrong people for years before we finally find someone that clicks with us can be tedious and full of heartbreak. Nine months of morning sickness, mood swings, and so much more, all topped off with childbirth... sounds unpleasant to me. Yet all three of these examples end in some of "the best moments" of people's lives. I believe it's because the depth of pain and joy really are connected.
One year ago I had a deep heartbreak. When I was younger I had lost friends and family to cancer, suicide, etc. so I thought I was somewhat familiar with loss and pain. This new heartbreak brought such a deep sorrow that I was worried about my own survival. However, the day after I received the initial news, God gave me an unexpected gift. He told me I would have His perspective of myself during this trial. I never would have thought to ask for something like that but it ended up saving me. It almost felt like an out-of-body experience because I still felt intense grief but at the exact same time, I felt as if I were another person looking down on myself. The pain wasn't any less but through this second perspective, I could see how the situation was changing me and even improving me. I realized I was simultaneously feeling pain and joy.
I think this is a pretty unique situation but it showed me the direct tie between sorrow and joy. It has been a full year now and I think my heart is still healing but I also feel like this has been one of the happiest years of my life. I'm more grateful for people and the things around me. I'm a more confident person because I know I can make it through hard things. Most of all, I'm convinced that God is real and that He cares about our heartbreaks. It's easy to feel angry about our pain or the pain of a loved one, but now I know it can be our road to greater joy.