Sometimes we have pain and joy at the same time. Walking through times of pain and sorrow is not a departure from a commitment to live a joyful life. We have to keep the good things in focus when we are walking through the worst things.

In last week’s podcast we discussed staying in a positive mindset. This week we expand upon that thought by considering how it is possible to stay positive, and live joyfully while experiencing pain and sorrow.

Living Joyfully While Experiencing Pain and Sorrow

Last week we talked about positivity. Sometimes my own words echo back in my head and they are hard to embrace.

One thing we do not want us to be are people who lie through their teeth about life and call it positive thinking. Our reality, and I believe everyone’s reality, is sometimes a mixture of pain and joy. Actually, the two are not mutually exclusive.

[shareable]Joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive.[/shareable]

Sometimes we have pain and joy at the same time. Walking through times of pain and sorrow is not a departure from a commitment to live a joyful life. We have to keep the good things in focus when we are walking through the worst things.

In Hebrews 12 we are told that Jesus endured the pain of the cross by focusing on the joy that was set before him. He despised the same of it, but he embraced the joy of the good things that would come from it.

Sometimes we go through pain and sorrow and we cannot reframe it into a joy set before us. Sometimes we are not of a frame of mind where we even WANT to see it. Sometimes we need to embrace the pain and the sorrow, because the sorrow does serve a healing purpose in our lives.

We cannot run from sorrow, ignore it, pretend it does not exist, and WORSE, we cannot explain or rationalize sorrow away until we’ve come to a place of embracing healing.

We thought about not doing a podcast this week because for me, I refer to this week as hell week. It is reliving something I want to forget about. It is more than the anniversary of the death of my wife, but it is a week long replay of the events leading up to her death. My wife unexpectedly died at the end of a very busy week that repeats itself on our calendar. Every. Year. It’s. The. Same. Routine… and it is hell to me. It affects me.

At this point, the loss, to me is more about how life tries to still be the same, but nothing is.

So, taking all of this and reflecting on coming to the place of joy and pain living together in harmony, here are a few thoughts on the matter.

#1 Good things still happen and they are joyous occasions. [11:45]

There is a time in your grief journey that you have to just embrace the grief with the hope that good things that make you happy will happen again someday, but not on that particular day.

It’s called hope. And good things do happen. We still laugh. We still smile. Its when we refuse to allow ourselves to laugh or smile because we shouldn’t experience joy or happiness… that’s when we start to move to a place that is not healthy.

#2 Don’t try to Logically Separate the Joy and the Sorrow. [13:11]

Our minds try to reconcile emotions. If I am sad about one thing then surely my happiness about another thing must be affected.

We always learn a lot from children. Eloise, our 4-year-old granddaughter understands that her Grandpa Dave is in heaven. She also loves her Pops. She has a 4-year-old understanding that if Grandpa Dave was not in heaven she would not have Pops. She does not really grasp it, but she does a great job of being happy to have Pops and to be sad that Grandpa Dave is not here for her to know personally.

This is not about subtraction, this is about addition. We feel sorrow for the people and things taken from us, but we feel joy about the things added to our lives.

You don’t have to reconcile it. You don’t have refuse joy because you are loyal to the pain.

[shareable]You don’t have refuse joy because you are loyal to the pain. [/shareable]

# 3 Focus on the Gifts of Your Sorrow [19:18]

Listen, there have been times on our journey when we’ve gotten angry at someone for suggesting that we be happy about the things for which we sorrowed because of all the wonderful things that would come from it.

Like someone telling you… God needed your loved one in heaven more than we needed them here with us…  I needed my lost loved one more than God did, at least I felt that way. Instead of making up little pithy and trite sayings we need to embrace the reality of our feelings.

If you don’t know what to say to someone who’s experienced loss, just say, “I’m sorry.”

The thing I hated more than anything were people who did not have the required depth of relationship with me trying to say things to fix a circumstance beyond repair.

Focus on the gift of your sorrow.

This poem by Robert Browning Hamilton aptly describes my feelings about the personification of sorrow.

“I walked a mile with Pleasure; She chatted all the way; But left me none the wiser For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow; And ne’er a word said she; But, oh! The things I learned from her, When Sorrow walked with me.”

I actually came to the place that I considered “sorrow” my comforting friend. She taught me invaluable things.

Here’s the thing… The things we’ve learned on this journey are jewels. They are invaluable. Priceless. I am better for the journey. These are the gifts of sorrow.

Was it worth it… not a question in bounds. You cannot pose out-of-bounds questions. No one, especially you, is helped by it.

Do the things added to my life make me happy? Absolutely?

You eventually come to a place of health where you can see the awesome return on the crappy happenings. Focus on those things and you will know joy.

This is the power of positivity. Its not that negative things don’t happen. It’s not that we don’t have pain and sorrow. It’s not that things are not hard and nothing bad will ever happen. The power of positivity is allowing ourselves to focus on the things that bring joy.

If Jesus can hang on the cross, being tortured for crimes he did not commit, and endure it for the joy set before him, then I’m going to have faith that when we go through our darkest times, there is joy ahead. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but there is joy ahead.

Now here’s the curve ball that will be hard to catch…

I can have joy in the middle of sorrow because I know joy is coming.