Words by Ayisha Jackson
Many of us inherit the sadness of growing into broken dreams. We come to know the pain of living in the shadows of a deep fear: that the lives we will live might not be nearly as adventurous, exciting, or fulfilling as our younger selves dreamed they would be. Burdensome aspects of reality kick in: poverty, sickness, and reoccurring waves of disappointments and setbacks. We live out our days in regret, worry, and guilt. We mourn the loss of a life once imagined.
We wonder why this hurts so much. After all, we’ve been told from birth that life is not fair. Still, growing up, it’s one of the hardest lessons we have to learn. Time and time again, life hands us more of what we don’t feel we deserve; and time and time again we grow further into disappointment. Because we’ve also been taught to shoot for the stars; because we just might be the ones to make it farther than most. We’re taught to be dreamers. But how do we grapple with this tension between living out hope and experiencing brokenness?
Perhaps there’s beauty in a life unexpected. Perhaps the lessons we learn from this life, though completely different from what we thought we’d learn, are the most important. We’ll learn of the beauty and reward in obedience to the simple responsibilities of even a life lived out in disappointment. You grow connections to those unexpected, and come to know the joy of service to those most unloved. You receive the kindness of strangers. You learn bittersweet humility and the warmth of gratitude.
Perhaps there’s beauty in a life unexpected. Perhaps the lessons we learn from this life, though completely different from what we thought we’d learn, are the most important.
Maybe its because of adaptation that we as humans can learn to dance in graveyards and sing amidst tears. But we owe it to the grace of God that hidden all over are little treasures we can take pleasure in dancing and singing and rejoicing over.
Ayisha was born in Georgetown, Guyana and raised in the boroughs of New York City, and was brought to Providence through school at Brown University. She felt the call to missions in her senior year after learning about the importance of service and community in the faith.