“The community of believers was of one heart and mind” Acts 4:32
Would that this were true in our world, our homes, and inside ourselves! Unfortunately, in our world when one country doesn’t like what someone says it stomps its foot, takes its marbles, and goes home. At home with our families when we don’t like what another says we do the same, or worse. With regard to our selves, well, why are so few people seeking treatment for mental disorders or healing from personal sin?
Creating unity within and without requires exposing hurts and vulnerabilities. Whether with a physician, therapist, priest, spouse, or any trusted other exposing ones hurts is risky business. Let me provide an analogy.
Yesterday at a workshop on cultural sensitivity where a “community” of mental health professionals was encouraged to share and learn from each other I braved sharing my personal experience of discrimination and harassment as a member of the “majority culture” in a “minority majority state.” I was stunned to hear giggling and immediately found myself attempting to say more to justify that my experience had been real. Only three of fifty participants talked to me after that. Two of those wanted to teach me something. That is not the way to create relationships or community. You do that by listening non-judgmentally, reaching inside yourself to touch your own pain, and then use that to empathize. It doesn’t matter if the other’s “story” is unusual, perceived as incorrect, or seems odd. Remember that next time you have an argument with your spouse, best friend, acquaintance, or yourself.
With regard to mental illness fractures inside result in psychosis at worst, a deep sense of loneliness at best. And what happens when a person shares or complains about that pain? People feel awkward so they avoid, try to teach, or giggle. Treatment itself is often fractured and disjointed. One has to often become ones own “coordinator of treatment,” pulling in medical, psychological, social, and spiritual help from different places.
We’ve all experienced divisions, hurts, and mental and emotional distress. Our Lord experienced all of them as well. He, however, transformed them. He rose from the dead.
Perhaps along with praying for some semblance of unity and healing we should put our belief in the resurrection into action. We can use our own hurts to understand the hurts of others. True communities understand as best as possible, give, assist, share, welcome, and learn from all their members.
Let’s pray and also play a part in reducing divisions with each other and also in our heads and hearts where God resides.
Picture is public domain, U.S. Federal Government