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When joy rides shotgun

joy rides shotgunI’m not going to lie, I’m no stranger to hard relationships.

Are any of us, really?

Often the ones closest to us are the hardest of all. Our parents, siblings, spouses and children. After all, they know us. They’ve seen us at our best.

And our very worst.

There’s history. Story. Joy and inexpressible pain.

One of my most favorite of all time quotes is from a Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran. I have a very old hardcover copy of his book, the prophet, and it’s one of my favorite possessions.

In it he talks on things like joy and sorrow, reason and passion, marriage, prayer and beauty.

But the one quote that stuck in my heart and has rooted deeply inside it, is that “sorrow carves the heart to contain more joy.”

It’s the flip of the coin.

To the extent that you have suffered sorrow is the extent that you will know joy. One does not exist without the other. Where you find one you will surely find the other.

Such is true in our lives. In the deepest bonds of family. Joy and sorrow intricately connected, woven together in the beautiful tapestry that we call love.

The words of kahlil gibran are too great for paraphrase so I will share them here with you:

“Then a woman said, speak to us of joy and sorrow. And he answered: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
“Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow.’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’ But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
“Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced. When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.”


In the midst of whatever conflict you face, whatever sorrow or pain or fear has you feeling overwhelmed, vulnerable or afraid: remember they come together. If you did not love, you could not hate. If you didn’t cry, you couldn’t laugh.

Welcome them. Allow yourself to be wherever you are knowing that where your sorrow is, joy is riding shotgun.

It’s how we love. It’s why we love.

And it’s worth it. Every bit of it.

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Krista February 12, 2014, 9:19 am

    This is my favorite title yet with those boots…. LOVE IT! A great visual image of joy riding tandem with sorrow – beautiful…

    • Tammy February 12, 2014, 2:50 pm

      thanks friend! you and me looooove our BOOTS!!

  • Kristen February 12, 2014, 4:05 pm

    Thank you for the reminder. I love what you paint with words.

    • Tammy February 13, 2014, 6:24 am

      thank you kristen! so glad you’re here.

  • Jenny February 12, 2014, 5:34 pm

    I’m a Texas gal (although transplanted out of state for this season of my life) and I love my boots! What proper southern girl doesn’t?! LOL
    Your blog hit home with me for a number of reasons, too many to go into here. Suffice it to say that I needed to hear it. Thank you so much Tammy. You look much too young to be so wise!
    Bless your heart!

    • Tammy February 13, 2014, 6:25 am

      awe, thank you jenny! so happy to have you here. blessings!

  • Ally February 15, 2014, 1:50 pm

    These words open up my soul to better understand my current season, which is my prayer. Thanks for sharing.

    • Tammy February 17, 2014, 4:43 am

      you’re welcome ally! wow – “words open up my soul…” love that imagery.

  • Dad and Terry February 26, 2014, 9:10 pm

    we are so proud of you, awesome words of wisdom from a “pretty” woman!

  • Rev. Edwin T. Clyburn September 11, 2014, 2:36 pm

    Just want to hank you for sharing such timeless words of wisdom, and for giving me my next sermon:

    When Joy rides shotgun

    To God be the glory

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