Orthodox Christian





There is an old woman in our town who is simply incredible. She has lived a very difficult life, full of suffering. Two of her children died, one from a terrible lingering disease and the other in an automobile accident. Her husband had a very bad stroke many years ago and then lingered on for twenty years before dying. Yet she is the most generous and compassionate person I have ever met.

One day, I asked her how she could still wake up every day with a smile and a kind word for everyone around her. She looked at me with this really surprised expression on her face and said, "Oh, but my life has been full of so many wonderful people. We all have our troubles, but those are only doorways we must walk through. Each of the terrible things that happened to me also brought me some unexpected surprises -- moments of connection with others, opportunities to become a better person. I guess I do wish it could have been easier, but really I feel that my life has been blessed nonetheless.

When times are tough, it's easy to shut out the rest of the world. And sometimes it is necessary to turn inward, feeling the depth and breadth of our sorrow so that our wounds can heal.

But, ultimately, we need to come back out into the light, scars and all, and allow our suffering to make us more compassionate toward others. Precisely because we have known pain of those around us; we can offer the example of our own journey to healing as encouragement for those still taking the first steps. In so doing, we not only inspire fellow sufferers, we make sense of our own pain.

Rather than close off our hearts and sink into despair, we can let hardship hone us into a vessel overflowing with wisdom and compassion."

And there's no doubt that the world could use more of that! 


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