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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Greg's Weekly Word: "bittersweet"

But that's not really it.

In fact, from what I can tell, there's not really a word in the English language for this feeling - of being happy for someone else but sad for yourself.

That's how I feel about our music director, LeRoy Kennedy, leaving Augusta Heights. He's moving to Atlanta to take a great job at a high school there, and he is really excited. Almost as excited as he was at his (recent) surprise 50th birthday party.

And I am thrilled for him...

...and really sad for us.

And both can be true.


Bittersweet. It was first used as a noun in the Middle Ages to refer to a drink that had both flavors, and maybe specifically to a certain type of apple. (And apparently a type of climbing vine with berries, too.)

The berries of Solanum dulcamara

The ancient Greeks had a similar word, glykipikros (lit. "sweet-bitter"). And these words eventually became an adjective to describe something that had both flavors - which was bitter and sweet at the same time.

And it is important to recognize that we can feel both emotions at the same time...that both can be true. We can be happy for LeRoy and sad for ourselves, excited for his new opportunities and disappointed for what we are losing. In a way, it's what the Apostle Paul spoke of when he wrote of the hope of resurrection that

...we do not grieve as those without hope (1 Thess 4:13)

While we do grieve LeRoy's departure, we also know that this is not the end for him or for us. In fact, it is the beginning of something new.

When flavors combine - like tasting bitter and sweet together - it gives the overall flavor profile of a food more depth. In a way, tasting both (together) creates an entirely new flavor. In the same way, these bittersweet experiences give our lives more depth, and offer new possibilities. They allow us to appreciate what we look ahead to feel and live fully and abundantly, with all of life's many emotions and experiences.

So we can be both saddened for ourselves and excited for LeRoy. And we can hope and trust that this experience will bring new, life-giving possibilities for us all.

Best wishes to our friend and colleague (and introvert goofball!), LeRoy!


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