For decades, NPR has showcased a writing program “engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives.” This program is entitled This I Believe.

I believe that the sadness in life is there to show the true value and weight of happiness. Twenty years ago, at the young age of 24, I had no significant problems in my life. I was fresh out of college, applying for my first job and one year away from marriage. My life was predictable, relatively easy and without turmoil or drama. No major waves came by to rock my little boat. I was floating along.

The thing I didn’t realize at the time, though, was that I did not truly know happiness. I didn’t realize, amidst my aimless floating, that I was not fully alive.

And then I turned thirty.

And suddenly, like a switch, the seas started to stir, the waves started to rise and my little boat was rocked. The days of predictability and stability were soon to be a memory.

My thirties brought me a string of heartache: a major surgery, my mother’s diagnosis with breast cancer, a random act of violence and the crumbling of my marriage.  Frankly, in my thirties, life gave me a swift kick in the ass.

In the midst of all the chaos, cowering under the weight of trauma, I asked the inevitable question, why me?

Now, a decade later, I can clearly answer that question. It was in a time of chaos that my life began to truly form and the woman I would become began to rise. Had the chaos not come, I would have continued floating down a stream not meant for me.

The challenges life brings, once overcome, are testimony to strength and resilience. Facing hardship is not enjoyable, but overcoming hardship brings a conviction that will never waver. Sadness is a powerful weight, but when we shrug it off, the joy underneath is palpable.

This I believe: the struggles in life are there to help you grow.  I have grown as a person.  And I love the person I have become.