Without Pain, There Is No Joy

In a world inundated by chaos and pain, faith and optimism can seem unsustainable. But there is one major and often overlooked silver lining to all the dread we’ve grown accustomed to. And that is simply the reminder that a light cannot exist without its shadow, just as dawn cannot shimmer over the horizon without night. Just as birth cannot bloom into existence without death.

Haven’t you noticed the pattern in your own life, like your failures that somehow always lead to novel ideas, redemption, and perhaps even some of your greatest victories? When we replay the dramas of our past like running film, in retrospect, we almost always find gratitude for where they took us. And in most cases, we’d never attempt to unravel our own histories and weave them into something else because that would severely alter our end result, our newfound inner-strength and wisdom. Maybe that is why we must know the empty corners of a void – so that we may know fulfillment. Maybe that’s why we must know solitude (or loneliness, as some might call it) — so that we may know unity.

Would joy still exist without despair? Or love without indifference? And if they did, would we still recognize them or would we call them by a different name? Was it not your most devastating heartbreak that taught you how to love the deepest? Your greatest betrayal that taught you impenetrable loyalty? Your worst nightmare that showed you how to dream beyond imagination? The truth of this is shocking yet expected, overwhelming yet soothing. Everything is going to be okay, because no amount of suffering can exist without its opposite.

I suspect the reason why many of us feel like driftwood in our early years is not because we haven’t found ourselves yet but because we haven’t lost ourselves. Can we find something that wasn’t lost to begin with? Your keys that always seem to reveal themselves between the crevices of couch cushions cannot be declared found until the moment they are lost. Where does this leave all the uncharted souls that walk the earth today? Exploration is how we discover, just as failure is how we learn. Perhaps we shouldn’t fear all that we perceive as negative, and instead welcome them as opportunities for expansion. As opportunities to experience their grand opposites. Maybe faith and optimism aren’t so unsustainable after all. Because with every single wrong turn, we’re actually stepping in the right direction.

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