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Our Bitter and Sweet Lives

Life, by its very nature is an interestingly bittersweet proposition.

We are the travelers – each walking our own, unique life pathway, each living within our own, particular variety of the sweet and the bitter. At our core, we understand that the bitter is inevitable. Life weaves it into our days and nights through the ongoing changes and losses that mark each of our journeys, regardless of who we are or where we’ve arrived on the marked and unmarked paths of our travels. Likewise, the sweet joins us as celebrations while we journey on. The pundits tell us we can’t have one without the other; that just as light fractures and illuminates the darkness, sweet can follow with rich opportunities for a life splintered by the bitter. Each more clearly reveals the other.

On our individual pathway, bitter is our discomfort, the messiness of a reality – a pathway – disturbed by the chaos of unwanted change and loss. Bitter is a break in our comfortable familiar . . . often a place of angst, unease, even sadness and pain. But, if we accept that one can follow the other, bitter becomes our opportunity for growth, an uncomfortable signal that there is some place new, something sweet, ready and able to flow through the broken and bitter . . . another pathway to walk, just beyond where we now stand.

A short time ago I shared a workshop with 30 other, hopeful, life travelers. Their experiences and shared vision for something sweet to appear within their bitter, helped to remind me that once the bitter is accepted and mourned, other paths into healing and celebration are always only steps ahead.

Author, Shauna Niequist, shares some advice:

“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

May your encounters with the bitter find you growing toward new pathways filled with the sweet grace of understanding and hope.


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