The storybook words of “once upon a time” usually end with “and they lived happily ever after.”
But what if the tale of our lives does not happen this way – what if the narrative of our actions leaves us facing the void of unhappiness?
What then of this storybook ending?
Sometimes through no fault of our own, we find ourselves transported from the fulfillment of our dreams to the hard reality of having been dashed on the rocks of despair.
At other times, were we honest, we bring the disaster, the sadness, the disappointment upon ourselves.
In either case, what do we do then?
The Old Testament’s Joseph knew something about a crumpled life, one which all circumstances indicated amounted to shattered dreams.
Sold by his brothers as a servant to the Egyptians, Joseph would be one “whose feet they hurt with fetters; he was laid in irons.”
He had come from a life of freedom and ease to one of enslavement and pain.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
“Until then that the king sent and set him free” from a life characterized by the pain and sadness of seemingly having been forgotten.
Paul O’Rear also understands this.
In November of 2001, he was placed in the iron fetters of grief when his 14-year-old daughter, Ashley, died of brain cancer.
Like Joseph, he faced what he called the slavery of “deep emptiness” and the “palpable sadness of grief.”
Until late one night on the road somewhere between Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, O’Rear turned to his wife, Susan, and asked if she had a pen and paper to write the words that became Until Then, a song of triumph:
Until then, my heart will hold you each and every day,
Until then, my memories of you will light my way.
One day I will see you, and I’ll hold you once again,
And I’ll keep my love and laughter in my heart … until then.
And my memories of you will light my way … until then.
Those last two words say it all.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.