“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
It is true. When I am outside, I pay attention. On an afternoon run last week, I caught a crowd of blood-orange tinged flowers on my pathway. The vibrant colors begged for my focus and for those seconds, my eyes gazed at the beauty and the brokenness of what I witnessed. I looked at the petals and noticed what appeared around this gathering – buds that didn’t have a chance to experience a similar glory because of the scorching sun. An apt metaphor, I thought, of a theme I’ve mentioned over and over again, happiness with edges of sorrow.
I often think about how to reconcile these diametrically opposite emotions and how they fit in the larger picture of the landscape of my life. In one moment, I sink into what is in front of me, the raucous laughter of my daughter, engaging conversation with a group of friends or a tender hug from my husband. These are the shades of happiness, I think. And so much of it, if I seek it, but I admit, there are times I’ve ignored the goodness that pleads with me to alter my perspective. Last week, I resisted. I complained about situations and people in which I recognize I have no control – I heard my words at one point – and acknowledged every single thing I said harbored a resentment, a what isn’t, instead of what is approach, and gut-churning negativity. Irritation mounted and I unleashed on my family and unexpectedly, tears started streaming down my face. Sometimes it isn’t easy to turn toward gratitude. Instead, the sorrow outpaces the happiness.
Self-pity is dangerous and sometimes wallowing in it is a way to claim it. I did just that. I gave myself a few hours to acknowledge my sadness, but decided, almost in a quick instant to look at the beauty again. I went for a run, had dinner with my family, worked on a freelancing assignment and read a few chapters in my book. I journaled about what bubbled as my pen hit the page. The next morning, I lamented the hours I wasted and committed to let the cracks show me the light.
I’ve said it before. It is acceptable to honor those moments when everything seems out-of-place. I’ve always believed, to be swallowed by any emotion requires you to acknowledge the spectrum of every feeling, even the seconds that make you feel uncomfortable and gnaw at you piece by piece. But it is equally important to move forward, even if it is as simple as taking a walk, bonding over ice cream with your family or taking a look at what is happening in the world.
There is beauty and brokenness. A shuffling between the two, every single day. And maybe that is the way to honor our moments with honesty.