As I rounded the corner my ears stilled to the faint sound of a child’s voice from within the small bathroom to the left of the stairwell. It was muffled by the steady rush of water, the indication of a shower in progress, but it was audible nonetheless. I stopped hesitantly and tightened my grip on the bannister to steady myself for what I thought would surely be a grieving child in pain, shrouded by the white noise of running water. I was unprepared, however, when I realized that the strangled sobs that I had come to expect had been replaced by the hauntingly melodic notes of a child in song. In that moment as I breathed in the sweet sound from the other side of the bathroom door, I realized that the human capacity for burden bearing is far greater that one would expect and it suddenly became clear to me that children do not dwell in the dark shadows of life even as they live in them. In those few seconds I understood with striking clarity, that my life must now be spent making music of what remains.
I am no superhero. More often than not I have grieved the hardships and challenges that we have faced. I have, on many occasions, lifted my hands in anger at the universe, cried out in desperation to whoever would hear, and turned my back on the God I love even as His arms stretched wide to embrace me. Broken by disappointments and pain I have seen discouragement and cynicism staring back at me from the mirror on my wall, but as time seemed to still in those moments on the stairwell I was reminded once again that the light shines brightest in the dark. If the deep bright blue of midday never shifted into the ink toned navy darkness of night we wouldn’t even notice the stars and how bright they shine. If we never faced a struggle or the need to overcome we would never know what delight victory brings. And if the chill of winter did not reach our bones, the warm breezes of spring on our faces would not be so sweet. I now understand that out of struggle strength is born and survivors are bred.
And so I am thankful for adversity. Gratitude doesn’t mean that I don’t wish for a softer journey. It is simply an acknowledgement of the great potential to stretch and grow in the dark shadows in an effort to reach the light. Faith becomes so much more precious when it lives and triumphs in adversity and I never would have come to know God’s strength had I not needed it to carry me through the steep hills and valleys of the challenges we have faced.
And so I will join my sweet child in singing. Our song will vary from day to day as life experiences stretch our understanding and build our character. It may be a complex symphony with difficult passages but it will be a sweet balance of melancholy and mirth, and we will sing because I am certain that the world needs the music that we will make. Beautiful songs do not just happen; they are composed by people who have a story, a life made up of chapters about loving, learning and overcoming.