I’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.