Social skill did not come naturally for me. I was the kid who shrank even more when adults would comment, “Oh, bashful.” (“You’re not helping,” I would think.) Even well into adulthood I couldn’t naturally look people in the eye, and had to force myself by rote. I wished I could be like others who seemed to smile warmly and naturally when greeting others.
Now at age 61 and after years of practice, I love looking people in the eye and smile easily. And I would like to encourage other naturally shy people to work on becoming healers.
This line jumped out at me more than any other in Bessel van der Kolk’s watershed book on trauma recovery, The Body Keeps the Score: “Our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another. Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being.”
Indeed we’ve been stunned at the level of hurt that people have caused some of the folks we know, but we have also been astounded at healing we’ve seen, along with the exciting realization that it’s only going to get better as our small community becomes safer. In Day 14 I wrote about the quick transformation that “Dtaan” has experienced because of it. So it’s something we want to promote, not to draw attention to ourselves, but to point out the potential that we all have to transform lives if we can just get past our natural barriers.
“Som”, 24, came for a follow-up visit today. She has been accepted into our program and is working on moving to nearby to get started. She’s seen love and safety at The Well and she wants in.
Som’s story is not at all the worst we’ve seen, but still very sad, and she appears to be clinically depressed. She did not grow up in poor rural or urban slum culture, but in a hardworking family that pushed her through school, including a bachelor’s degree. But Som experienced loss and abandonment in other ways, leading her to the identity that traumatized kids naturally pick up and carry with them for many years: “I am a burden.” “We can help you with that,” I reassured her, confident as I am in the safe healing community that has been finally developing more and more at The Well. (See my previous posts on “Learning to Wait”.)
John starts his first letter exclaiming about the amazing experience that he and his friends had with Jesus himself. “We heard! We saw! We touched!” And here is the heart of Jesus’ message, John tells us, especially in 1:5-7: walk together in honesty; connect with each other, and be totally transformed. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” True love sets us free.
1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” That’s a stunning sentence. When we love, everyone sees and hears God. And that is what healing is.