October 11, 2014

The Marriage of Joy and Sorrow

This part of my life will always be with me, and I will never forget it. It changed me and shaped me and tested my faith to it's very limits. But I am making my way to the other side, with a new understanding of God's grace, as I learn to be joyful in ALL circumstances. Lament and joy are not mutually exclusive, and I have experienced enough pain and enough comfort, that I will carry both in my heart for the rest of my life, as I wait with longing for my heavenly home.
A few months back, I decided to start a new journal and wrote the above in the old one before transitioning to the new.  I still had a lot of space left in my old journal, but it was full of heartache and sadness and represented a dark time in my life. I was avoiding writing in it, because whenever I pulled it out, I found that the old anxiety, depression and despair that filled those pages would start to creep back into my heart. Those feelings would still resurface at times, and still do occasionally even now, but they were not and are not representative of the majority of my life at this point. I've found a great deal of joy and a renewed purpose in this last year that have given me a passion for life again.

That being said, I still live with longings that are unfulfilled.  There's sadness in my heart that I know I will always carry. I often times find myself in the midst of a joyful moment or thought, simultaneously feeling the sting of something sorrowful in my life, whether it's a broken dream, an anxious heart, or missing someone who's no longer here to experience this with me. 

In the same vein, there is heartache that I experience that cannot take away the joy that fills my life.

I have come to accept that the rest of my life will be lived in this tension of joy and sorrow. I actually am thankful for it, because each moment of joyful sorrow or sorrowful joy keeps me longing for heaven. These two opposites work harmoniously as a daily reminder that I need Jesus and that this world is not my home. 

I found this devotion in Streams in the Desert the other day that I loved. It is such a beautiful picture of living simultaneously with joy and sorrow:

"Sorrow was beautiful, but his beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the woods......He would weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to him.

Joy was beautiful, too, but hers was the radiant beauty of a summer morning.......She could rejoice with anyone who rejoices, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to her.

Sorrow longingly said, 'We can never be united as one.' 'No, never,' responded Joy, with eyes misting as she spoke, 'for my path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom when I arrive, and songbirds await my coming to sing their most joyous melodies.'

'Yes, and my path,' said Sorrow, turning slowly away, 'leads through the dark forest, and moonflowers, which open only at night, will fill my hands. Yet the sweetest of all earthly things--the love song of the night--will be mine. So farewell, dear Joy, farewell.'

Yet even as Sorrow spoke, he and Joy became aware of someone standing beside them. In spite of the dim light, they sensed a kingly Presence, and suddenly a great and holy awe overwhelmed them. They then sank to their knees before Him.

'I see Him as the King of Joy,' whispered Sorrow, 'for on His head are many crowns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of great victory. And before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness. I now give myself to Him forever.'

'No, Sorrow,' said Joy softly, 'for I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of terrible agony. I also give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy I have ever known.'

'Then we are one in Him forever, 'for no one but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.' Therefore they walked hand in hand into the world, to follow Him through storms and sunshine, through winter's severe cold and the warmth of summer's gladness and to be 'sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.'"

Speaking of joy and sorrow, we've got a little bit of both going on right here...
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  1. Just found your blog. I'm looking forward to reading more of your story. We're approaching the 3 year infertility mark, and adoption is become a bigger possibility. The one thing that keeps me from fully embracing it yet is this tension that you talk about here. I'm still trying to wrap my head (and heart) around it, so your words give me hope.

    1. Hey Lisa! Thanks so much for your comment! I was just perusing your blog and loved reading through all the infertility stories you've posted. And, what a journey you've been on! I know everyone has to go through their own processing before transitioning from infertility to adoption, but I can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever done. We were lucky in the sense that we had always wanted to adopt as much as we wanted to get pregnant, so it wasn't a new idea we had to wrap our heads around. I've moved from a really difficult season of life that included infertility, along with a myriad of other losses, into a really wonderful season. Our son has brought joy that I never could have imagined into our lives, and while infertility still stings, it in no way diminishes the joy we experience from him. I don't see the tension of joy and sorrow as a negative thing. It's really just a reality of life for anyone who's lived long enough to experience loss of any kind. Don't let a fear of this tension stop you from adopting. Adoption has been pure joy for us. No amount of sadness in our lives could ever take away from that. I'm looking forward to following your story now that I've found your blog...I love the voice you are giving to infertility.

  2. I know I have said this in the past, but I am constantly thankful for you - your honesty and your vulnerability. Although our journeys look different, there are threads that are woven through that are similar and for that, I am again brought to gratitude. I just read Ann Voskamp's latest post and loved the following pieces: Who am I to complain in losses - when what I lost wasn't mine to begin with? Anything I have, I don't deserve. Everything I have isn't a given - it's given. Nothing is a given - everything's a gift. Unyielding gratitude to God - is how God makes us unstoppable. You are becoming unstoppable, and I get to witness this and become brave, courageous, and stoppable in return.

    1. And I am always thankful for you too Ashly! You are a gift in my life.

  3. Hi Mindy! I'm Tyler :) We follow each other on Instagram. About 8 months ago, my husband & I started seriously looking into starting the process of adoption. Adopting was something we'd always planned to do, but our "timeline" just got a little fast tracked after we were diagnosed with infertility after about 14 months of trying to get pregnant. Your blog was one of the first I came across when diving into the online adoption world. It's now been 7 months since we officially started our journey with domestic adoption & we are currently all approved, in the middle of fundraising but just waiting and waiting and waiting to be matched with our Baby K! I relate so much to your beautiful heart and your vulnerable words. I just wanted to let you know that I've been encouraged by you…because your voice is one that let me know that I'm not alone in this painful, challenging, complicated journey of infertility. Your story of adoption also encouraged me that there is still joy, hope, love and redemption to be experienced in God's plan for our family. I love this post because it so perfectly captures the struggle going on inside of me. I know it will be an ongoing battle but you're right, it does remind me that in every moment, I truly do need Jesus. Thanks for sharing your story! I love seeing the pictures of your precious son. What a gift from God!

    1. Hi Tyler! Thanks so much for your kind words! It really means so much to me to know that our story has encouraged others. You obviously know the pain and the struggle well, and it's such a blessing to know that God gives purpose to our heartache. I'm really looking forward to following your story, and I'm so glad we found each other on Instagram. I will be praying for Baby K and for you guys as you wait. I can't wait to see the little one God has for you!