I am writing to you first as a human. A human who has wrestled, worked, wept, felt, listened, waited, and held herself and others in the work. I come to you also as a mental health therapist who deeply desires for our world (communities, relationships, industries, churches) to experience more wholeness, flourishing, and yes... love.
Let’s start zoomed out.
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” - Jesus
What I know to be true is that many of our, cultures, faith communities, families, and systems did not give us the tools to truly work through some of the deeper stories in our lives that have manifested in how we love and receive love. Many of us have stories of pain, loss, betrayal, lack of nurturing, trauma, irrational responsibility, lack of boundaries, unrealistic expectations, perfectionism, abuse, and missing the mark.
These stories have often developed into the ways that we love.
In my work as a therapist and in soul care ministry (at my church Providencia WPB) I have the privilege to see the inner-workings of peoples hearts and stories. I get to see firsthand how true it is that “hurt people, hurt people.” I see how silent stories find ways to be heard, but often out sideways in hurtful ways. How loneliness can lead us to hurt others and ourselves and further us into isolation. How resentments and unshared stories can drive us away from ourselves, away from God, away from each other.
Sounds awful right?
Is there hope?
The goal of this “story work” is to care for the wounded places in our stories so that we can strengthen our innate ability to love one another. This work also can lead us to experience Love and presence in deeper ways in our lives. There’s no doubt that there are many stories in our lives that date back to early childhood or even to last year, that affect the way we love.
This work is designed for us, individually and collectively, to reclaim connection so that we will be able to live out the invitation to love others, to love ourselves, to love God.
Lets zoom in a bit.
Story work is important because many of us get frozen in passed stories that we believe define us, define others, or define God. As we explore our histories and as we listen to others empathetically, we step-by-step move closer to living from “heart” instead of living from “hurt.”
I do not use the word “work” unintentionally. It is very intentional. This work is often difficult. Uncomfortable. Messy. Painful. Worth it.
The first step in this journey is becoming aware of our stories. Aware of the lived stories in our lives and messages that we received from others. We become aware of way we interpreted those messages and the way we still live them out today. Awareness is needed for change but it is not enough to create change. The next step in this journey is risking to be vulnerable and share ourselves.
We heal best together. We are not designed to do it alone.
We are neurobiologically designed to connect with each other. Many of our stories have resulted in keeping us isolated and lonely. Believing that “if I was truly seen and known that I would be rejected.” Believing that “ if I let myself feel the sadness or speak the grief then others would see my mess and judge me.” Believing that “ I am too needy and I am a burden if I share.”
I believe that we all deserve a space to be heard, seen, known, and loved, and this is how we as human beings are designed to flourish. I believe that a brilliant place to practice this is in the therapy office and relationship.
The next step in this journey offers us the challenge of sustaining this level of connection. We need more than mountaintop experiences at retreats, church, vacations, or therapy. These experiences often send us out into the world expecting that it will be be easy. Connection is not easy. Having uncomfortable conversations and making difficult decisions is not easy. Setting boundaries and honoring them is not easy. Telling your truth is often not easy. Sitting with someone in deep grief, loss, and pain is not easy. Choosing to show up instead of numb out is not easy. But we believe that this is how we flourish.
This is how we grow. This is how we love.
"Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ― Brene Brown
This is the dream...that we would reclaim connection in order to love well.
The invitation is here. Wherever you are on the journey, I would be honored to walk with you in the story work.