I clipped the final thread from my sewing project. I haven’t sewn since I was in high school, so I didn’t have high hopes for my first couple attempts to get my stitch back. I flicked my project in the air for a satisfying snap that scattered to the floor the last few clingy threads. I held it to my shoulders. I did it!
I danced like a five-year-old in front of my husband, “Look, look, look! I did it! I made something wearable!” Then I tried to take pictures of it and I tried to call my mom and my mother-in-law. To my disappointment, no one answered.
What’s the first thing you do when you’re suddenly really happy? When you bite into your homemade peach pie and it flakes smoothly and then dissolves into a puddle of cinnamon stickiness on your tongue, what is the first thing you want to do? When you wipe the final drop of satisfying sweat from your forehead and admire your freshly mowed lawn, what do you want to do? You have to tell someone! You’re dying to offer someone a slice of your perfect pie!
C.S. Lewis said in his book, Reflections on the Psalms, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; or to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with.”
Later that afternoon, I relished a long conversation with my mom. She had lost her daddy a few weeks before. After staying with my grandma for a few days, she headed home. Finally, her adrenaline slowed and she found herself alone with the reality of her loss.
It struck me how sadness doesn’t always want to be shared. In fact, sadness feeds on loneliness. Kept to ourselves without expression, sadness infects, festers and takes over our minds. When we reach out and force ourselves to share our pain, or reach into someone else’s life and insist on sharing their pain - it’s then, I believe, that we discover the joy in suffering.
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Joy must be shared, and so must pain. Let it seep into the crevices, and be absorbed by time and those who love you. Reach into someone else’s story and shift some of their burden onto your own shoulders. Then, as you grow stronger in each circumstance, when you grow in your faith and learn to hope in Christ’s promised, eternal future, you will find yourself rejoicing where you never thought possible.