This post was written the week I knew I wouldn’t be returning to Ecuador as a missionary. Even though I was overjoyed that I would be going to Brazil, my heart still ached because I didn’t know when I would see the people I fell in love with again. There’s a type of grieving that happens when your entire life is changed so suddenly. This is a look into those last three months I spent in my old life.
I’ve always thought of joy and grief as enemies. Two emotions that can’t occupy the same space because they’re simply too big to leave room for the other. But recently I’ve learned that’s not the case.
Joy and grief actually live together.
They’re roommates that pass each other throughout the day, walking through this life together. They tend to be found together because if grief didn’t have joy, it would be unbearable. As I sit here feeling the grief, it doesn’t hurt so bad. Because joy is sitting right beside her, reminding her of all of the good memories. “Remember when…” Joy is there so that grief remembers why the pain is worth it.
You see, grief is that feeling of something missing, like the ghost of something that could have been. It’s like a piece of your heart was broken off and you’re searching so desperately to find it, so desperate to feel whole again. It’s drowning in a sea of hurt and regrets and “what if”s.
But joy… oh, joy. Joy is knowing that yes, it’s missing… But it’ll be okay. It’s knowing that you will be whole again, soon. Joy is the memories. It’s your laugh when you go back to the time you may have almost died… Almost. Joy is the gratitude you have for the time you did have even if it wasn’t near as much as you wanted. Joy is the lifeboat that keeps you afloat when you feel like drowning.
Grief may feel like you’re roaming in the dark but joy is close by slowly guiding you home, no matter how lost you think you are. Because joy sees beyond the darkness of the night you’re in. Joy knows the way home.
This process of sharing a home with joy and grief has taught me this:
Grief reminds you that you’re human.
But joy reminds you that you’re alive.