“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” –Romans 5:3-4
Last year I watched the Disney movie Inside Out for the first time. If you haven’t seen it, do it now and come back because I’m about to spoil it. The movie is all about the emotions everyone feels and how they interact with each other and shape our lives. The emotions in a little girl, Riley’s head take turns reacting to different things that happen to her and creating memories. Joy and Sadness have a feud because Joy thinks that to have a good life, every memory and experience only happy events. Sadness tends to focus on the negatives in Riley’s life: how she let people down or how she misses her friends and so on.
Every Tuesday in New Orleans we have community meetings, and we always start our meetings with highs and lows. We all share one great thing and one not so great thing that happened that week. I’ve been experiencing many highs and lows throughout the past month.
Low: The weather has been all over the place lately and although it started as terrible allergies, I now think I have a cold. Being sick stresses me out, which is not good because in addition to the weather, stress probably brought on this illness.
High: I’VE COMPLETED MY FUNDRAISING! I have met and exceeded my fundraising goal for my second year! Thank you so much to everyone who gave to my year to support me in my year of service. My heart is full of love and I am in awe of your generosity.
Low: Preparing for a fundraiser is no joke. Eden House’s fancy fundraiser is next month and preparing for it has kept me extremely busy. I feel like I get a hundred emails a day about invitations and table hosts and center pieces. I will be very happy when the fundraiser is over.
High: There was a lot of fun this month! Our spiritual practice this month play and fun, which meant our house bonded by playing Twister, going roller skating, and carving pumpkins. My housemate and co-worker and wonderful friend from last year, Jean, came into town for a surprise visit! We spent the day visiting our old school, seeing our students, and catching up with each other at Juan’s Flying Burrito. I also had the opportunity to go to Voodoo Music Festival in City Park where I got to see some great artists, Band of Horses, Arcade Fire, Sir the Baptist, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Low: I share an office with the clinical staff, so I listen to the residents’ needs the same way they do. Because of this, I hear a lot of sad stories, as you can imagine with trafficking victims. I’ve been learning a lot that will prepare me for my MSW, but it’s difficult to listen to. I am still finding it hard to listen to others’ pain, and I don’t know what this will mean for my future career or sanity.
High: I had the opportunity to attend a graduation from a therapy program. One of our residents attended group and individual therapy every day for eight weeks. At the end of the program, another staff member and I, along with a few residents were allowed to attend her graduation. We and the members of her group wrote positive notes and affirmations and read them aloud for her. It was wonderful to hear the members of her group talk about how much they love her and how much she had grown. It was definitely a joy to see the progress that the women of Eden House make throughout their two years there with all of the services my work site provides.
At the end of Inside Out, Joy learns that she cannot exist without Sadness. That Riley can’t experience Joy if she doesn’t also experience Sadness. And that emotions can be both happy and sad at the same time. Inside Out teaches us that life is made up entirely of highs and lows. You can’t have one without the other. My lows feel very low but I think it makes my highs feel higher. When I feel joy I can hold onto it and savor it. Joy and Sadness coexist in my head, and Sadness helps me recognize Joy. I see the progress Eden House residents make, I become closer to my housemates, I learn something new, I talk to a good friend. Things happen that remind me that the world has good in it. I’m slowly learning to seek the good in the midst of the bad, and to not focus on the negative.