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Overcoming Hardships…Finding an Inner Light

[caption id="attachment_4196" align="alignright" width="200"] Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA[/caption] Hearing anyone's story of hardship and pain is never easy. Recently, someone shared with me her childhood and adulthood struggle with feeling rejected and abandoned by her parents, friends and God. As a child, after her parents were divorced, she lived with a foster mother who was abusive and treated her unkindly. Later, in her teens, she was reunited with her father when he remarried and a new family was formed. But, she still found it difficult to bond with both her father and stepmother. As a young adult, she moved away to another state to start a new life, living in hostels and in homeless camps and shelters for a while.

Lonely but Never Alone

Desperate to find food and housing, she was directed by a human services agency to a church that had a food bank and offered community meals. She went to the church, lonely and withdrawn, sitting in a corner by herself, when the pastor's spouse (George) sat down beside her and expressed concern about her. He encouraged her to come back because he didn't want her to feel lonely and wanted her to know that she was not alone in her journey. (She had been having nightmares that she was truly alone in the universe and abandoned by God and everyone.)

Finding Healing After Brokenness

[caption id="attachment_4501" align="alignleft" width="250"] There is healing...[/caption] She found the church to be a sanctuary for healing after many years of not wanting anything to do with religion or churches. She learned to trust again though as church members reached out to her and helped her see her own worth, especially the female pastor, Ali, who is now her best friend. Ali has been with her, holding her hand and allowing her to express her angry cries, as she confronted the loss of health and a dear friend to suicide. Ali loved her through her brokenness and because of this she finally found healing. Now, Ali tells her that she "inspires others with her infectious laughter, joy, optimism, and childlike exuberance for life." Despite her trials with poverty and health issues, Ali tells her now that "she always cheerfully finds a solution." Church members nicknamed her Sunshine and she feels that she has been "pulled back from darkness and has rediscovered her inner light once again."

Hope and Love Triumph

This story was heartbreaking to hear and I share it because I feel that it offers foremost a message of hope beyond despair and of love's unmitigated power to heal one's psyche and soul. It also speaks of the compassionate goodness of one person reaching out to another person, bringing hope and [caption id="attachment_4508" align="alignright" width="376"] Hope and love triumph[/caption] healing to a broken spirit. One person can make a difference. In this story, Ali offered a listening presence and served as an instrument of love and acceptance, empowering one person to believe in herself, others, and God again. May, we, with God's grace, become instruments of God's love to a broken and needy world.

Are You Called to Be a Healer?

Perhaps you or someone you know has overcome painstaking hardship and found love and healing in unexpected ways. Maybe you are being called to be an instrument of God's healing presence in the lives of others by becoming a religious Sister. If you feel the stirrings of such a call, why not contact one of our Vocation Ministers to explore this call.

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