Can Joy And Pain Coexist?
Have you ever wondered why people cry during happy occasions? How can people laugh and cry at the same time? Could it be that they have experienced so much turmoil, until the occasion brings a spurt of relief? Could it be that they finally received what their heart dreamed of? Could it be that they are just extremely happy for a friend or loved one? …But what about those of us who cry while watching movies with happy endings? We don’t even know those people, yet we cry. Could it be that the movie’s happy ending is what we dream about; even if it is for someone who we are praying for? The ecstatic moment brings about tears. …It’s like someone waking up in the recovery room after a major surgery. They are in pain, yet they laugh. Could it be that the intensity of fear before the occasion fueled the relief to come out in tears? I remember waking up after the last brain surgery. I was so happy to see the lights in the ceiling until I cried. Have you ever felt pain, yet you laughed?
And the opposite, have you become so angry during an argument until you started to cry? Some people call it: fighting mad. Psychologist, Stephen Sideroff, PhD. says “Crying is a natural emotional response to certain feelings, usually sadness and hurt. But then people [also] cry under other circumstances and occasions.” Is it joy and pain?
Are there other triggers of emotional and mental pain?
Special days and holiday seasons are the times of the year when joy and pain mingle? During these times, the effects of our losses intensify. We miss lost jobs, lost relationships, shattered families and especially our lost loved ones. During holiday seasons, when families and friends gather for joy and laughter, we share memories. The reminders affect those who grieve. We think of the things that we did together. We think of the unique attributes of our loved one. We think of how they responded in certain situations. We think of their laughter, their frown, their grin, their snore, and the way they fussed and corrected people. We think of the tone of their voice; their unique intellect, their exceptional cuisine; like that delicious caramel cake that no one else in the family can make and capture that taste. We miss how they cleared their throat; even though it always irritated us. …We see others enjoying life with their mom, their dad, their daughter, their son, their husband, their grandparents, their grandchildren, their brother, their sister, their best friend and we become frustrated.
These occasions instantly remind us of our loss. The enemy of our soul torments us with the words, “Look what they have. Look how they are enjoying life. Why did you have to lose your loved one? What kind of God do you serve?” But, my friends don’t give in and allow melancholy to overtake you. Enjoy the beauty of other’s happiness. Allow the Lord to bring joy into your pain. One of my many favorite scriptures says in the (b) clause of Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” (NRSV) Jesus endured, because there was joy set before Him. Can you see the joy set before you even in loss, disappointment or pain?
How does loss have diversity, yet similarity?
There are multiple facets to loss. Sometimes people will tell you that they understand what you are going through, yet they are clueless. Your loss could be due to a loved one’s death. You may have lost your job. You may have lost your home. Your loss could be due to a broken family. You could be in the midst of a divorce. You may have divorced; your ex moved on and regret consumes you. There are a plethora of losses that we can list here. But the point is that loss, though it is diverse, have similarities.
My only daughter died June 2014 from complications of Sickle Cell Anemia. I miss her tremendously. Especially, yesterday. She and I had a tradition of staying up most of the night cooking together on the eve of Thanksgiving. We enjoyed talking, sharing cooking tips, and tasting each other’s dishes to see if more sugar was needed in the pies, more sage in the dressing, or more garlic in the collard greens. But, even with the pain of missing my Mika, I don’t know what my sons feel in losing their sister. I don’t know what my grandson is feeling in losing a mother at three years old. I don’t know what my son-in-law is feeling in losing his wife at such a young age. Even though, I lost two brothers and my parents, I don’t know what you are feeling. We are different people, and we feel differently, yet because loss has a universal affect, loss in and of itself is the commonality. There are some similarities. You and I both may have felt the punch in the stomach from the loss. You and I both may still have the sad moments. You and I both may feel the pain of seeing our sons, grandson and son-in-law grieve during the holidays while smiling and making new traditions. You and I both may have asked God to fill the empty place in all of our hearts where that lost loved one once occupied. You and I both may be in the reconstruction stage of our lives. You and I both may be at a stage of laughing more often than crying while remembering.
How can joy and pain coexist?
When this subject came into my spirit, I thought of an old song that Frankie Beverley and Maze recorded in the 80’s. I found myself humming, “Joy and pain are like sunshine and rain.” Then the questions came. Doesn’t the sun shine at times while it is yet raining? Does rain have to be the exact opposite of sunshine? Does joy have to be the exact opposite of pain?
My friends, I believe joy and pain can coexist. Just like we can become extremely cold while playing in the snow, we can hurt and have joy simultaneously. I believe that we can hurt from grief, yet have joy in the memories. Oh yes, I enjoyed my oldest son who took a cooking class in high school just so that he could be near the girls, make the most delicious macaroni and cheese. I enjoyed my son-in-law tasting my dressing to see if it needed more sage. I enjoyed seeing my grandson play on the kitchen floor. I enjoyed my youngest tasting the food.
And when I went to Kisha’s house, I enjoyed waiting on Kisha to finally finish cooking. I enjoyed my extended family reminiscing about the old times when they were young. I enjoyed Gaga’s baby (Grace) and the rest of the family laughing, playing a game, eating and enjoying.
We all occasionally mentioned losses. But joy outweighed any pain. We even talked about how Mika would have fussed at Kisha about a situation. …I can truly say that I can think of my dear daughter, remember the joy that the Lord allowed her to experience and become overwhelmed with joy. Oh yes, joy and pain can coexist. Just as, the sun occasionally shines while it is raining, the beauty of the site brings a smile to some of our faces. The beauty of remembering my daughter’s pretty face, her laughter, and how she would so rudely end phone conversations in the midst of your sentence by saying, “I’m sleepy, bye;” brings me joy.
My friends, even though this is a time of year when missing your loved ones magnifies; joy can shine through any pain that you experience. Life may be different; but joy can stay. Rather than remembering what we shared with our loved ones through sad tears; join me in thinking, enjoying the memories, and laughing. We can allow the joy of the Lord become our strength. Let’s do it!
Thank you for joining me in these Thursday thoughts on Friday after Thanksgiving. So what do you think? Can joy and pain coexist? What are your thoughts? Join me in conversation. I’d love to hear from you. We’ll talk soon!
Originally posted 2015-11-27 15:17:09.