“I discovered that joy is not the negation of pain, but rather acknowledging the presence of pain and feeling happiness in spite of it.” ~ Lupita Nyong’o

For more than two years, I’ve had the privilege of volunteering for Adam’s Place, which is a phenomenal non-profit helping children to deal with the loss of a parent or sibling.  I work with the adults, and have listened to stories of unimaginable pain.  Their strength amazes me.  Their resilience inspires me.  Each one faces a personal and unique challenge while climbing grief mountain, and all agree that the view at the top is exhilarating, for the simple reason that they got there.  

I like to say that every down cycle is followed by an up cycle.  I wholeheartedly believe that because I’m a hopeless optimist (forgive the oxymoron).  I also know that because I’ve lived through the pain of grief and loss in my own life and have come out of it with a gift greater than I could ever imagine.  It says so right on my coffee mug:  “She designed a life she loved.”  And that life, the birth and growth of my mediation practice, is the gift borne out of my own pain.

I’m sure if you thought about it, you could cite several examples of the gift inside of the pain.  There are stories, both fictional and factual, about the families of heart donors finding joy in connecting with the recipient of their loved one’s heart via transplant.   Or about the foster parents who adopted a whole family so that the siblings could stay together.  Or the firefighter who rescued a kitten and fell in love with its owner.  I mean, watch a Hallmark movie or two and you’ll understand what I’m saying.  Those writers understand about finding gifts inside of pain.  

If I sound like I’m trivializing this, I apologize.  I sincerely believe that surviving pain, whether physical or emotional, helps us to become better people.  We acquire the ability to become more resilient, more empathetic, more compassionate, more understanding, and more grateful.  

Of course, forgiveness can also be a gift inside of the pain.  Giving a second chance to someone who’s betrayed you in the past allows you to let go of the space that betrayal was occupying inside of you.  

Last but not least is the gift of discovering our own inner strength.  How powerful we are when we come to the realization that we have overcome yet another of life’s challenges!  Sometimes the simplest act of getting through the minute, the hour, and the day is a gift that we’ve opened out of our own pain.  When hundreds of thousands of people in our country no longer have the ability to get through the day, let’s not squander our accomplishments.  Instead, let’s acknowledge the presence of happiness in spite of the pain.  

If you know of someone who’s found a gift inside their pain, will you please share the story?