The greatest kindness is often shown in letting things go. None of us is perfect, but we can all be perfect friends and perfect partners by allowing those that we love to be imperfect. - Neale Donald Walsch
. . . we could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world. —Helen Keller
We chase after joy, like a child after a firefly, being certain that in joy all problems are solved, all questions are answered. Joy has its rewards, and we deserve them. But life has more to teach us.
We need to learn patience; through patience we come to respect time and its passage, and we are mellowed. We need to learn tolerance; through tolerance our appreciation of another's individuality is nurtured. We need to learn self-respect; self-respect prepares us to contribute more freely to our experiences, and we find wholeness.
Life's travails are our opportunities for lasting, enriching joy. The rough spots deepen our understandings. And these help us to bring joy to the lives of the friends near and dear.
I need not turn my back on joy. But I will be glad for all life's experiences. The panorama will sustain me more fully.
Serenity: My Resting Place
Between Joy and Sadness
When I first came into Al‑Anon, I did not have much emotion at all. Life felt flat, and I felt empty—even in the most difficult situations.
I went to a ton of meetings and heard many stories that reflected my own story. About five months into the program, I remember standing in a museum and seeing a family having a good time together. I remember breaking down and crying for what seemed like the first time in forever.
Following that incident, I still felt emotionally numb, but also started to cry, out of the blue and for no apparent reason, at the grocery store or on the bus. I also started to experience little tiny pockets of joy, again while at the grocery store or in random places.
As time went by, I felt safe enough to acknowledge the deeper pain in my life, stemming from the past. As I recalled profound feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and fear, the tears became more intense. On the other end of the spectrum, the times of joy and celebration also became as frequent and intense.
I know, however, that intense joy and intense sadness are not the ideal resting spots. Both emotions eventually pass which leads me to— and leaves me in—one of my new favorite places: serenity. It really isn’t anything earth shattering. I neither feel that I am going to topple over in pain nor am I going to be able to take on the world. Instead, serenity typically happens when I am perfectly content with the situation that I am in, that I have perspective on the many blessings around me, and that I am not looking for an escape.
Serenity seems to come lately when I am walking my dog around the block at night. We aren’t doing anything fancy, just simply walking. She’s being a dog and sniffing stuff, and I usually look at the plants, the stars, or the buildings around me. I acknowledge that I am simply a living and breathing woman, whom God decided to rescue and lead into Al‑Anon and into a life that is no longer filled with chaos, loneliness, and an endless search to get her cup filled.
I think the place of serenity is the perfect balance of emotion and logic for me. There is not a ton of emotion associated with serenity, but it is definitely not like feeling emotionally numb in the past. Instead, it is a feeling of calmness and gratitude—a peaceful spirit. It is also a place I’m in when I am thinking logically; perhaps I just made a gratitude list, or affirmed who I am as a child of God.
I still look forward to the extremes of emotions, as it is a wonderful reminder that I am, in fact, alive, and now a member of the human race. In addition, the more tears I cry, the greater capacity for joy I experience, which is such a gift for someone who has felt depression for the majority
of her life.
The leveling of emotions leading to peace, to serenity, seems to be one of the greatest gifts of this program, and for that, I am forever grateful.
“Al‑Anon and my Higher Power were helping to transform me into a much happier, well-adjusted person right before everyone’s eyes. This was not the kind of spiritual awakening that I had imagined. There was no sudden flash of light, no deep insight into the mysteries of the universe or the depths of the human soul. Instead, there was a quiet change. I had been granted serenity.” How Al‑Anon Works (B-22), p. 280.
Laura S. November 2013
Reprinted with permission of The Forum
Al-Anon Family Groups Incorporated, Virginia Beach, VA
Today's Hope is an Al-Anon themed site and is not affiliated with Al-Anon's World Service Office. The daily sharings contain a reading from Al-Anon's Conference Approved publication The Forum, an inspirational quote/saying and a recovery based reading/meditation. The intent of Today's Hope is to share experience, strength and hope. Please take what you like and leave the rest.