“There’s only one address anyone lives at and it’s always a duplex: Joy and pain always co-habit every season of life. Accept them both and keep company with the joy while the pain does it’s necessary renovations.”
Life in a duplex, I’ve been there. We once shared a wall with a quiet Indonesian couple. We never heard a sound except when she would play her piano. Beautiful melodies would seep through that dry wall, the words of a quiet woman. Powerful hands commanding ivories. How could she so small, so soft, play with such conviction? Sometimes I would stand with ears pressed against the wall, straining to hear more. I remember coming home at night, seeing the lamp on in that back room, and I’d know that she was playing again.
I’d like to think we had a unique way of being neighbors. Musical conversations traveling back and forth, sending messages. Neither of us ever complained. I can say honestly that the piano never bothered me. I hope they can say the same for my songs.
Joy and pain, the neighbors which dwell in my heart. As I reflect on 2011, I see both. The beautiful Life-giver baby girl who maybe-but-wound-up-not having down syndrome. Moving from our beloved Fort Worth, the place where roots are deeply planted. Making plans that lead to a jungle on an island, far from here. Saying good-bye to beds, and sofas, and other things I wish I weren’t attached to. Seeing Jesus provide in humbling abundance, filling our cup to overflowing. Embracing the grieving of farewells now and yet to come. Welcoming the niece we’d hoped and prayed for and thought may never come. Becoming more thankful. All the tears. All the laughter. The mountains climbed, the rivers waded. The sunny days of delight. Always grace, always tender Jesus.
How often I sat conversing with Pain, while Joy was standing on the other side of the wall. Playing her tune with conviction. Beckoning me. How ashamed I am that I didn’t go more often! That I didn’t sit down for a cup of tea to listen to what Joy had to say. Oh how I wish I would have. Pain is real, and can sting like the whole hive turned against you. And we’re supposed to feel and acknowledge it; we’re supposed to grieve. Yet, what did my Maker say about this world? “Take heart, Erin! Take heart!!” I hear him yelling it loud. Not in anger, but because he just so desperately wants me to.
Troubles in this world are guaranteed and unavoidable. I pray this will be the year I finally get it, though. The year I finally say yes to Joy rather than the numbing distractions the world offers me.
What if I devoted a room in my house to putting up pictures of painful memories, writing down hurtful comments like famous quotations and then displayed them on the wall. That would be lunacy, right? Yet how much time do I spend dwelling on those things in my heart? The way I see it, I have two choices. The scenario I just described being the first. Or, I can hang curtains in the next room, cultivating a habit that will help me get through even my darkest days. The joy of the Lord really is my strength. No, really, it is!
Joy sings a song and I press my ears to the wall to hear more. But this time I offer a harmony. A song fills up this duplex and I hope it plays on.