On My Heart: Bitter and Sweet


“Hope” is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops - at all.“ 

— Emily Dickinson

   Sometimes, our stories are both magically sweet and painfully bitter. Perhaps you are ten years past your timeline of waiting for the good man or the baby or the ______ (dream) and you feel all but forgotten. Perhaps you just can’t get over the loss you experienced — that hope you just knew was sure. It went slipping through your fingers, like sand, and your heart broke into a thousand pieces. Perhaps the disappointment and pain of your particular heartache has launched and rapidly plunged you into feeling so hurt and so cynical and so jaded and so disappointed, you can hardly breathe. Perhaps you were left broken-hearted and dream-shattered after what began as a “perfect” start and spiraled into loss and shattered like glass. Perhaps “it” worked out so completely opposite than you planned that you can no longer recognize your dream... it is burned beyond recognition. Maybe you're wading through the thick of it all, and you can’t see the forest for the trees, or how there could ever be a way out. Bitter and sweet, mingled together, all at once, all of the time, kind of like my coffee. But perhaps, it doesn’t have to be perfect, or even look anything like a storybook fairytale (yet, I assure you, on The Day, it will.) Perhaps it looks like your hands picking up your broken pieces, holding them up toward the sky, and letting the light shine in. Maybe it will look like the throbbing heartbeat of redemption and forgiveness that seeps deep into those cracked dreams of your soul, making all things new: sunrises rising again, and stars that twinkle, anew. Let them go, the “what could have been” and “what should have been” questions that haunt you in the dark of night — let them go, let them fly, like birds out of a cage, like balloons up into the clouds.

You are whole and you are free, to dream and hope and be, again.

“Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness. Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands.”

- Shauna Niequist