A week ago, a friend and I were at lunch, discussing the recent death of his family member, who was also a very dear friend of mine. The conversation turned to how, despite his grief, he could name many gifts of the experience of walking with his loved one during her battle with cancer. He named how the experience changed him, how many people he met during the process, and how it made him more compassionate towards others’ suffering.
As I listened, I began recalling experiences in my life that echoed with both struggle and graces. One of my teachers in my spiritual direction program, Bob Fitzgerald, called these moments of our lives “treasured sorrows.”
What Is a Treasured Sorrow?
It is a life experience where there was both grief and joy. We faced pain, challenges, hurt, loss, or grief. Yet, as we look back, we treasure the experience we went through because of what we learned and who we became in the process. While the experience itself was a beast to live through, we know that the growth we experienced, the reliance on God we now have, and the new awareness we have about ourselves would not be there without this period of life.
Reflecting on Our Treasured Sorrows
There are a handful of events in my life I can now name as treasured sorrows. While I would rather not re-live these moments of loss and pain, I know that these experiences changed me in a profound way, and so I treasure the lessons I learned.
I am more aware of what others experience. The utter dependency on God during these times grew strong roots of faith that still strengthen me today. I cherish the people I met and the relationships that deepened as we walked the experience together. I know the tools of my faith offer support and guidance after leaning on them as I walked the challenging journey.
Our treasured sorrows are our wise teachers. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can sift through our experiences and name the sorrows and the treasures. Then, like any good Ignatian friend would do, we can offer this experience to God to be transformed and used by God for the good of the Kingdom.
What about you? What in your life do you consider to be a treasured sorrow?