About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her at @anniefdowns.

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  1. Annie,
    I tend to be a black and white thinker…things either have to be all one way or the other. I am not good at letting both joy and sadness coexist. I get uneasy when hope and doubt mix together in my mind. But as you pointed out so beautifully, sometimes what brings us joy can also bring with it a twinge of sadness. I think of how Jesus must have felt…knowing that His life here on earth and what He was about to do would be our ultimate salvation – what joy – but with it must have come the awful dread, sadness, and fear of what must take place first. If I’m going to learn to live like Jesus, I’m going to have to learn to live in the in-between. Thanks for so beautifully reminding me this am.!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Bev, here’s to learning to “live in the in-between” together! Good insight about Jesus’ own experience with the intertwining of joy and sorrow (along with all the other emotions you mention and more). Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. This was so beautiful. Complicated yet simple in your choice to do instead of avoid. So much living we miss in avoidance. Thanks for this!

  3. I love how you were able to articulate that two, seemingly opposing emotions, can be true at the same time. It can be difficult to acknowledge these things and even understand them! It’s so helpful to be able to look at the reasons behind those emotions, validate them for what they are, but then not let them be in the driver’s seat of our life. Thanks for pointing this out, and enjoy the shows!

    • Judy, what a good thing to consider and live in with regard to our emotions, “validate them for what they are, but then not let them be in the driver’s seat of our life”. May Jesus be our Driver! Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. You’re so darlin! I relate to you in so many different ways. I’m 35 and single, positive, love to laugh and enjoy life. But sometimes i get sad and lonely and I’m so grateful God led me here this morning. I’m so thankful there is another Christian girl experiencing this openly and transparently. You have no idea how much this is needed, and how special you are. You’re a bright light and precious.
    God bless you as we chart this journey in faith. ❤

    Maya

  5. Annie, you stretched me with this post. I tend to think of joy and sadness as mutually exclusive. But you’re right. There can be sadness in joy, and joy in the midst of sadness. I suspect these two often interweave with each other.

    And I love that you are choosing to feed your soul in the midst of attending the theater alone. Who knows, maybe God will place other singles beside your seat each month, and unexpected friendships might begin. God does have a way of surprising us like that. 🙂

  6. My life is far different than yours right now, but I jut love it when the human experience is big enough to transcend those details. Motherhood has obviously filled me with so much joy, but with it has also come deeper sadness and loneliness than I could have imagined. Reading your words, I’m reminded again how rich it is to be human, to have these huge conflicting feelings at the same time, and how worth it is to have the full experience of life.

    • Oh gosh I know! I have some many mom friends who say the same thing! It’s the best and hardest season of their lives. Thanks for your comment and thanks for loving your life well. It inspires me, Shannon.

  7. “…there can be joy in grieving and grief in joy.” Gah Annie! I’m done! This just wrecked me!

    I don’t know if I ever put words to how that experiencing joy in grieving and grief in joy feels. Thank you for writing about this with such transparency and wisdom and hope.

    I stinkin’ adore you friend!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Your post touched me so deeply! I enjoy activities that most of my friends do not – sewing , quilting, and crafting. I’ve traveled, sewn, and shopped alone. This makes me sad because I want so much to share my passion with my friends. To that end, I’ve wanted to find a quilt guild to belong to, but I get cold feet & sad for just the reason you gave about sitting alone in the theater – feeling odd man out & different (age, race, skill level).

    You’ve given me the courage to acknowledge my different is ok. God uses my skill for his purpose and that can be lonely work. I need to find that space in the theater (quilt guild). Maybe someone will sit next to me and we’ll enjoy the show together. I’ll never know if I don’t try.

    Here’s to a new beginnings.

  9. I can see joy in grief, but not sure about the grief in joy. I am always looking for joy in everything. I don’t look for grief.
    I too am alone. I love the symphony, have season’s tickets, and go by myself. Besides, you can’t talk during the performance anyway! You are fortunate to have friends attending and can meet with them before and after. I don’t have that. Would be nice, but I don’t know anyone willing to buy tickets!
    I would love to go to NYC, but too intimidated to go alone. If you ever need a traveling partner, let me know!

    • I definitely don’t look for grief either- it’s not a goal ;)- but it shows up sometimes. I’m just finding it’s healthier for me to acknowledge it these days. Thanks for your comment, Nina!! And yes girl! Go to NYC!!! You will love it. See Finding Neverland. It will make you weep. Soooo beautiful.

  10. Annie, thank you for putting down in words what I have felt for many years. I know how hard it is as a single woman to take part in activities (life) that are predominantly the domain of couples. I’ve all too often missed out because I didn’t want to be the “fifth wheel”. What’s even more frustrating is attending a function with one of my other single girl friends and people assuming we are a couple. Bravo for choosing to take in what you enjoy… Just sit back and enjoy the show and the company!

  11. Annie,
    Wow I never thought how joy and sadness could intertwine. I guess if something is good there can also be a down side to it. Right now I’m staying at home and assisting with the care of my aging father. While that is a good thing and I feel blessed to be able to do this–I’m not earning any money. Thus the sad or downside to this! I know God will work out everything. Heck for you He may bring a potential mate your way that you never would have found otherwise!
    Blessings 🙂

  12. Having lost my husband a few months, ago I could relate to your blog. Not alone but oh so lonely. I also live in Scotland but not an Arsenal supporter. God is faithful.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, Joanne.

      Where do you live in Scotland? I used to live in Edinburgh, but also have great friends in Stewarton!

  13. Beautifully said. It’s so much easier when life is black and white, but it also means we don’t need to hold onto the source of all our hope, wisdom and love. Thanks for writing this. Your words are an encouragement to many.

  14. Annie-
    Thank you for this. I am in a season right now that has stretched for some time where several things/people I love and cherish are causing me much pain and sadness. Thank you for the reminder that to avoid the pain will surely diminish our joy and completeness and all the Lord has for us.

      • As a married person, who ends up doing things single most of the time due to husband who does not share same interests, let me just say to encourage all the truly single folks out there that the fifth wheel thing is a hump to get over but really I believe its more in the mind of the single person. We have a dinner group, formerly all couples. When one of our friends died, his widow asked if she was still welcome…it had never occurred to the rest of us that she wouldnt be welcome. Bless her she didn’t skip a beat. If it’s awkward for her you wouldn’t know and certainly not for the rest of us. We just miss our friend who’s gone but are grateful we don’t have to miss the one who is still with us!

  15. This reminds me so much of what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:10, “…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. I’m there myself right now. There’s plenty of sorrows to feel (e.g. health issues, broken/strained relationships), and it’s difficult to find similar activities like you described that bring me joy because of the activity. However, I’m experiencing more and more in this seemingly impossible-to-find-joy situation that the joy of the Lord (His loving presence) is truly my strength! I am so grateful for the reminder today of this amazing paradox that “there can be joy in grieving and grief in joy”.

  16. I love this. I’m struggling so much with being a new graduate and the challenge of wanting to move back to the UK–a place where it’s far from easy to get a job, but a place that brings me SO much joy and happiness. the struggle & the happiness is a huge bag of mixed emotions but I know if it happens it’ll be worth it, and at least aiming for it will be better than just never giving it a shot at all.

  17. I know the feeling! I love that you get out and do the things
    that bring you joy, even if they bring sadness too. Having both is
    better than having neither. 🙂

  18. A beautiful post, thank you, unfortunately I’ve learned about the co-existence of joy and sorrow like never before, since my beautiful teenage daughter Leah died from the complications of her bone marrow transplant in January 2014.
    As she lay dying in ICU, one of her favourite songs was ‘One Thing Remains’ by Jesus Culture:
    “In death, In life, I’m confident and
    covered by the power of Your great love
    My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can
    separate my heart from your great love”

  19. Annie:
    Thank you for being so brave and sharing your feelings, not just your thoughts.
    I was crying this morning,l have been single for MANY years now….
    and then your blog arrived…
    thank you for the joy of knowing God knows us all and sends what we need by word or person or nature or whatever He chooses..right when we need it.
    hugs to you and enjoy the show!
    ps..remember to just enjoy the show…God will,open your eyes to the person He wants you meet…relax in this truth and enjoy!
    love in Him
    Kim

  20. Wow Annie. Thanks for taking us to the theatre with you and giving a real life glimpse into the reality of joy mixed up with sadness. Trying to celebrate the great stuff is hard when our heart is sinking at the same time is such a strange feeling. I hope the shows bring much laughter and when the tears come you feel even more alive. Bless.