Lots of us have gone through hardship and heartache only to find, at the end of our difficulties, more difficulties. Life has a way of testing us, pushing us beyond the limits of what we think we can bear. And yet, to hear the old wise ones tell it, “trouble don’t last always, and joy comes in the morning.”
How could our elders and enslaved forbearers declare such a remarkable truth whilst living through tragedies that were generational in scope and scale? One answer is that many believed that despite life’s appearances, love always wins.
Now if people who were force-fed a steady diet of brutality could come to believe in the omnipotence of love, then surely we can as well. Of course this is hard, because every day we are bombarded with a million ugly realities, like betrayal by people we trust, the loss of loved ones, abuse and disease, rampant inequality and persistent racism. And the resulting pain that we experience is often emotionally and physically crippling.
In the midst of ongoing suffering, it’s not easy to believe in the transformative power of love. Yet our ancestors, many of whom longed for a freedom that they never knew, understood that love – if courageously and consistently applied – could eventually turn defeat into deliverance. Their conviction gave rise to resistance movements, aid societies, educational institutions, art forms, innovations and spiritual practices that have over time made our lives better. In this way, love was able to win through them, though it bore its fruits for us.To be certain, love’s victories are not instantaneous. Healing deep hurts frequently takes years. And transmuting base energies like fear and hate into love can take lifetimes, as this shift requires major overhauls of human beliefs and behaviors. So, for those of us who are life’s walking wounded, love’s progress in our lives and communities can seem so gradual as to be invisible.
It’s at this point when it becomes useful to remember that change often begins in humble, inconspicuous ways. We humans barely notice it until it’s glaring and well established. Whether we live to see it or not, however, the seeds of love once sewn move life towards that which is highest and best for the good of the whole. Of course, what’s best for the whole, and the individuals who comprise it, is always love.