"Joy and pain are but two arteries of one heart that pump through those who don't numb themselves to really living."
I wish that quote wasn't true.
But it is.
If we don't allow ourselves to feel pain, to even embrace it, we won't experience all the joy that God has for us.
Like I said, I wish that wasn't true. I wish we could pretend pain away. Deny it away. Stuff it in some corner of our hearts where it would stay. Out of sight. Out of mind.
But living doesn't work like that.
If we really want to live, we must allow both of the arteries of pain and joy to pump into our hearts.
Cutting off one will only kill the other.
Jim and I have learned that truth over the years.
And because we choose joy and to really live, we stand in our kitchen holding each other tightly, and look at the last picture we took of Ethan "before."
We stare at that beautiful face, and remember what it was like to see him stand and walk. We remember his dreams and the dreams we had for him.
We lean on each other as we grieve for what was lost, and what we so desperately want back.
We refuse to deny. We refuse to pretend. We refuse to believe that God sets a limit on grief and tears and His compassion.
The pain was overwhelming and our breaths were taken away.
But God came. Like He always does. And He wiped our tears, and we went back to the turkey and the celery and cornbread.
Jim and I had a lot to do to prepare for our Thanksgiving dinner, but the most important preparation was for our hearts.
We had to unplug the artery of pain and let it flow freely to make room for the joy God wanted to pour into our hearts.
And that is exactly what He did.
He poured in joy and we really lived.
I remember the cradle and all the joy it brings.
Our Savior. Our Peace. Our Hope. Our Way.
But there was also pain that first Christmas. The pain of a sinless man entering a sinful world and the death this baby would die.
I remember the cross.
The scorn. The rejection. The excruciating physical pain and the terrible weight of the sin of the world.
But oh the joy of the cross.
The joy of grace flowing freely down upon us. The joy of uncondional love. The joy of Jesus doing for us what we could never do for ourselves.
The joy of the words: IT IS FINISHED!
The cradle. The cross. Both beautiful pictures of joy and pain pumping through one heart.
I also remember, that in the end, joy will be all that is left.
One day there will be no more crying. No more busted dreams and bodies. No more pain.
Until that day, we refuse to numb ourselves to the pain as we gratefully accept all the joy and the living God has for us.
"Keep your eyes on Jesus,
the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Because of joy awaiting Him,
He endured the cross, disregarding its shame.
Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne."