I used to think that peace was something God automatically bestowed upon anyone who would believe in Him. Or that it was a nice by-product of having a happy upbringing and enough serotonin in the brain. Or of spending time in meditation. My journey with illness, however, has taught me something paradoxical. Peace, and its counterpart, joy, are found through pain and suffering.
Perhaps it has something to do with Lyme teaching me to appreciate the things that I am able to do now but which in certain moments along this journey, I could not. Things like, the ability to take a walk without collapsing on the road and the ability to laugh without falling short of breath. To decide to be grateful for what is instead of what isn’t, and to find that which is good in a situation rife with difficulty because I have no other choice but to do this or live in despair over my symptoms. I realize that when life’s circumstances have been good, I have had less need to cultivate the aforementioned abilities, because less has been at stake. But nearly three years ago, when the winds of change tore my semi-prosperous life apart, my happiness, which had been built on a foundation of circumstance, was taken away, too.
Or perhaps the suffering-joy, pain-peace equation has more to do with the fact that those qualities on the former side of the hyphen have enabled me to develop compassion towards others. I couldn’t relate to another’s brokenness until I’d gone through some measure of it myself. And peace and joy are the fruit of showing compassion towards others.
I don’t particularly like that things are engineered this way. Whether or not you believe in God, do you ever wonder why peace and joy just can’t be bestowed upon us like fairy dust? Why must everything good have a price tag attached to it?
But peace is not found in a life of comfort and the fulfillment of all our whims. Sometimes, it is found in the counter-intuitive place of pain, and in the place of loss instead of gain.