I am very thankful for this smart and thoughtful post from one of our own, Melinda. I hope you’ll learn from it, as I have!
A little boy, afraid of a thundering storm outside was comforted by his father who told him to not be afraid because God was always with him. “But,” the boy replied, “I need somebody with skin on!” This need for human to human relationship is becoming increasingly pronounced in much psychological research. Scientists such as Stephen Porges have shown us that social engagement is our first defense against trauma or chronic reactive stress; Dan Siegel asserts that relationship, together with mind and body co-creates a coherent sense of who we are.
These ideas suggest that relationship is bedrock to our sense of self and of safety. We don’t really know who we are outside of relationship. We are mirrored by others and discover that we are ‘funny’ or ‘lovable’ or ‘kind’. It’s akin to discovering the nature of a fish through fishing. We can catch a fish, remove it outside its fauna, dissect it, catalog it and name its parts. But, we don’t really understand the fish outside its life in the lake. We truly come to know ourselves in relationship.
We are pack animals. We know that we are safer in group. Traditionally, groups demand a certain adherence to group expectations. This is not true at Holy Family in my experience and I believe that this is the gift of this faith body. This community doesn’t concern itself with how we are usually categorized, either through race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or political stance. We are welcomed into this community irrespective of our particular individual woundedness. This open-heart space allows us to have compassion for others and for ourselves. It opens us up to listening, understanding and growing. It helps us to discover strengths we didn’t know we had and to use our limitations as opportunities for transformation. I feel very fortunate to have found this community.
Melinda is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who enjoys exploring the intersection of science and contemplative thought. She, along with her husband Chris, have been members of Holy Family for about 4 years.