Beliefnet
How Great Thou Part

I’ve never done human suffering well.

I like to joke that it was all the cops and fireman in my family and of course, my uncle the priest. It was also without a doubt, my mother. She encompassed all that true compassion and empathy are and she put a hefty emphasis on kindness.

So believe me the irony is not at all lost on me, that I married a man who had no problem watching my suffering when I couldn’t stand to see a stranger suffer.

My marriage counselor who I like to call, “Dr. Phil,” once told me, “Colleen, often our greatest strength can become our greatest weakness. You are caring and you are caring to a fault. What would be one of your greatest strengths became your greatest weakness.”

It was some of the best advice I had ever received. It brought me to a clearer understanding of who I am and forgiving the mistakes I had made.

Of course, the overly caring part in marriage is code for enabler. Unless, of course, you are married to someone equally as caring with good behavior.

I miss the days when my greatest strength was still just that. The days before my greatest strength became my greatest weakness. When I went so far to the other extreme by being used up by love that I no longer had love for myself. A journey that I wish God along with my own free will hadn’t chosen for me, but he did.

He did choose a path that took me so far away from myself that I had no choice except to realize and accept that much would not be the same in my life. I struggled and struggled with the acceptance of it.

So afraid because I had already lost so much of myself. The more it took over as my weakness, the more I shed more of who I had always been. As I have tried to reemerge I have found myself afraid to look and see what’s truly left of me.

So instead, I hid. I cowered like a dog out in a storm, frightened to come back out once the rain had stopped…frightened to see the destruction that this last hurricane had wiped out since I had already stayed for too many.

Only when I did finally step out, I realized what we all realize in catastrophic storms…that if we are still okay when all the trappings around us are destroyed then we still have everything. We still have everything while we have nothing.

It is only when entirely everything has been washed away that we can recognize that truth. It is while the broken trappings still existed that we had alternated between fearing we had lost it all and kidding ourselves that we hadn’t.
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