Have you ever been really sad but at the same time filled with a sense of incredible joy? It’s a really a strange feeling. Yesterday an article in the Daily Orange was published about David’s Refuge and our story of how and why we started it. While reading it I was overwhelmed by a sudden rush of emotion and sadness as I was hijacked back to the days of David’s diagnosis, our thirteen years of caregiving, and then his death. Tears began to leak out and my throat tightened as both good and bad memories flooded my mind. But amazingly at the very same time I realized some of my tears were actually a result of the joy we have experienced through our journey as David’s mom and dad and also having had a front row seat as we have watched and participated in the formation of David’s Refuge. Joy and sadness mingled together, resulting in the masterpiece called “Our life.”
As I look back over my life and especially over the past twenty years, I have discovered that joy is often a result of me making a conscious decision to find it and cultivate it in my life. While there are times it happens spontaneously, it most often is found if we are willing to look for it, like a lost earring or set of car keys. In yesterday’s article the writer captured the following quote as she was interviewing me.
“We had a choice to either become bitter or better,” Warren said. “We chose not to be bitter and to believe that God could take even the brokenness of your child’s loss of vision and loss of all physical ability, and to turn that around to be something good and beautiful.”
Very early on Brenda and I made a conscious decision to look for joy each day as we cared for David. We did not want to become bitter but wanted instead to somehow allow this horrible painful sad experience to shape us into better people, parents, neighbors, friends, and followers of God. There were days of course we failed miserably. We groaned, cried, cursed, shook our fists at God, and hosted some of the greatest pity parties ever. Those were horrible days. But more often than not we rolled out of bed, put our feet on the cold floor, and consciously made the decision to look for the good in that day. And do you know what we discovered? Almost always joy mysteriously appeared right along side the sadness of watching David’s many losses. I remember a very difficult day as we once again were overwhelmed and saddened by more loss and David’s cousin Matt called just to say “Hi” to David. It was a brief conversation that mostly consisted of who is your girl friend now, fart jokes, and dare I say the word, boobs. David laughed, we laughed, and Matt brought joy to the Pfohl family.
I hope today you would consider making a conscious decision to look for joy in the midst of your sadness. I really believe you will find it if you look.