Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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A Study in Opposites

op·po·site  [op-uh-zit, -sit]  adjective

contrary or radically different in some respect common to both, as in nature, qualities, direction, result, or significance; opposed: opposite sides in a controversy; opposite directions.

Do you ever think much about opposites?  When you are in a dark place, whether sadness, anger, hopelessness, or something else put you there, you need to know there's a way out.  We all need to know there's a way out.  When we are wrapped up in the darkness, though, sometimes we forget.  Or we believe escape is beyond us.

I've given some thought to opposites and how the understanding of them can be applied to life.  What is the opposite of grief?  What is the opposite of despair?  Where can hope be found when a person feels hopeless?

I would like to suggest that opposites are not as straightforward as we've always been led to believe.  Life is not either happy or sad.  People are not always good or bad.

This idea has created a profound picture in my mind.  Alas, I am beyond artistically challenged.  So I am left with trying to share the concept the only way I know how – with words.

The highs and lows of life are intimately woven together in a way that is both comforting and painful, both strong and insecure.  The tapestry created as those threads are wound, worked, pushed, and pulled – it's majestic beyond imagination.  It is the tapestry of our lives.









Original Word


Traditional Opposite


My Opposite
























Bright (color)



Profound Loss


Profound Gain


Living Profoundly




























Belonging/Sought After
















As you can see, there are some repeats in the list.  It's a work in progress, and I'd love to hear what you think and if you have any opposites that you would add or change.

It might help if I explain the difference between happiness and joy.  At least the way I use them.  I'm not sure I'd find a dictionary that agrees with me, but this is how I've always thought of it:  Happiness is based on our circumstances.  We get our happiness from whatever situation we are in.  When our life gets difficult, our happiness suffers.  Joy comes from God.  It is a direct reflection of how close we are to Him.  When our life gets difficult, our joy does not have to suffer.  In fact, joy often grows during trial because those are the times we tend to draw even closer to Him.

No matter how you look at it, life is complicated.  I would say it's never as simple as black & white…but then I'd have to bite my own tongue for using such an ordinary opposite.  Good thing I'm typing instead of talking!

I've seen sides of life that nobody can touch or take away from me, I have felt things more deeply than I ever imagined, and I have been sad beyond the depths of what I thought the human heart could bear.  In those deep and dark places, I have learned that no opposite, whether traditional or creatively outside-the-box is mutually exclusive.  Sadness can coexist with Joy.  Dark and Bright can be intertwined.  We do not live exclusively in Ugliness or Beauty.  We live in both.  There is no escape from that.  So why not find hope in that reality?

No matter how ugly the things going on in our lives may look at the moment, we can know that, in addition to that ugliness, there is immeasurable beauty.

How fantastic is that!?  Holding that truth close to my heart allows me to find, each day, something worth celebrating.  It gives me a reason to get out of bed and move forward, to live, and to embrace the day and all that God has for me in the midst of it.

Learning that I can be hurt and joyful, grieving and hopeful, broken yet loved – this gave me a special freedom that I had been seeking without realizing.  It gave me the freedom to be me.  Profoundly, completely, and simply ME.



If you're interested, I decided to look some of these pairings up in the Bible to see what I could find.  My list is incomplete, but here are some of the opposites I came across.

grief v. hope – Job 5:11-16.  You kind of have to follow this one all the way through.  It starts in verse 11 with those who grieve and brings it around in verse 16 to being given hope. 

hurt v. joy – Proverbs 17:21, Hebrews 12:11, 2 Corinthians 2:3.  None of these verses actually use the word hurt.  Depending on your translation, it'll say pain, sorrow, misery, or something like that.  It's the same concept of emotional suffering, though.

sadness v. joy – John 16:20

hungry v. satisfied – Micah 6:14a places these two words as opposites.

fear v. peace – Daniel 10:19 and Jeremiah 30:5 both set these words up as opposites.

lost v. belonging – I haven't found a scripture that quotes these exact words yet, but I keep going back to Luke 15:11-24 and thinking, "Yeah.  That's it."

** opposite. Unabridgged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: July 13, 2013).


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I found this very interesting.