Connecting with Others {Even When We’ve Been Hurt}

connectionThe women gathered in a semicircle, the leader rocking in her chair with half-finished quilting squares draped across her lap. Etched lines marked her face with a painterly contentment that was somehow pressing my own unrest. She spoke with a confidence I refused to believe.

“I miss her, yes, and oh how I wish she was here, but I know God is holding her until I can.” The host smiled, a genuine smile, and she shuffled the delicate blocks of fabric in front of her.

How do you act, what do you say, when one has buried their young, precious innocent?

My thoughts were suspended somewhere between this woman’s ability to reconcile her pain and my own lingering fears. It’s only been two years, how can you do this, how can you let us see this soul-deep? You don’t even know half of us.

A quilting group they’d called it, a woman at my new church insisted I attend. “The husbands watch the kids at the next door apartment, while we ladies gather for coffee and swap quilt blocks.”

I knew nothing about quilting. And even less about gathering in vulnerable community, the sort where heart-pains like this slid so easily into open air.

For years, I washed my own pains down, swallowing back my hurts to avoid facing them, emotionally isolating from anyone I suspected might trigger pain. Friends and relationships with others were like a hot stove that could scorch a fierce burn with one mishap. So I avoided them. I built hard, high walls to keep people from knowing the real me.

But I was lonely. So very lonely. Even in the company of others, I felt isolated. Uncomfortable. Like a pair of too tall, too small, trying-to-make-them-fit-in-order-to-look-good shoes.

Yet this woman’s heart-story, her real and raw, made me wonder. Would I, could I, be real? Would I drop my painted masks and reach out for the extended hand of friendship?

It’s hard to start over. Hard to be deeply seen and known, to trust others with our hearts when we’ve been hurt. Will they run? Misunderstand? Ridicule even? Or maybe, just maybe, they can help restore what was once lost?

Something is poured out of one and into the other that has the power to heal the soul of its deepest wounds and restore it to health. . . . Christians have been given resources that if released could powerfully heal broken hearts, overcome the damage done by abusive backgrounds, encourage the depressed to courageously move forward, stimulate the lonely to reach out . . . and introduce hope in the lives of countless people who feel rejected, alone, and useless. 
Larry Crabb

There are some things that can only happen within the context of community. This swapping quilt blocks adventure, this initiation into genuine community, it ended up being much more than some coming together and making of something cozy to keep me warm on a winter night. It became a pouring out where we bartered weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and hurts for a fresh hope.

Love is a tree, each person a branch. And a pile of cut off branches doesn’t make a tree. Love can only be comprehended in community.
Ann Voskamp

Deeper Still: How about you? Do you have someone special that has helped you heal? Is there a group of women you have connected with? Or are you still in search of support? Link up with us today and share your story? Or if you aren’t a blogger, be sure to leave us a comment?

20 thoughts on “Connecting with Others {Even When We’ve Been Hurt}

  1. It’s funny that you end with “Deeper Still” because for me that was exactly who I linked arms with to receive healing and restoration. I attended a retreat for post abortive women called Deeper Still and while I initially felt it was something I didn’t need, that I was already forgiven and had already healed, I was amazed at the work the Lord accomplished there, in ALL of us!
    Some of us experience pain, shame, regret so deep that we’re unable to access it to begin the healing process and only Jesus could take us deeper still to reveal that very thing that His blood already covered because what He did was enough to cover all of our sins!
    Thanks Jo Ann for helping us to find our voice and believe that our voice matters and our stories need to be told!

    • You are a brave and beautiful woman, my friend. And I thank God for your willingness to go deeper still, and your heart to use your story to help others.

      • Thank you for sharing Jill, this is confirmation to me that I need to share my story on a bigger scale, beginning with my blog and hopefully within the book that I’ve begun writing. I think that many women are living with the shame and guilt of abortion and are too afraid to speak up or seek healing for themselves. Maybe they even believe that they don’t deserve it. I want to help them, to put their hand into the hand that died for them. That’s what the amazing women at Deeper Still did for me. God bless you!

  2. I’m not a blogger, nor am I one to open up about my personal hurts to others. I am the listener, the one who senses hurts in other people and will reach out to them. Only, through these, for women only and Facebook’s private group, “Hope for the Hurting Women,” communities brought together by JoAnn Fore, have I learn to trust my voice again. Most of my Voicing doesn’t come by telling a story or quoting a scripture, it comes when I read the hurt and scar post, from another woman. I learned, by my opening up and sharing my hurts and scars, she can feel validated and not alone. It is this form of bonding with women, where our healing can begin. Through her new book, #When A Woman Finds Her Voice, by JoAnn, I am learning to walk through all my hurts and challenges, so I will become one of those women, who speak her voice in public.

    • Debie, thank you for sharing the side of “the reader.” Your role is vital because for those of us that do write we hope our words help readers to heal, to gain strength and to begin sharing their own battle scars and healing emotions. Each week when I write my heart out I pray. I pray for other women to understand my position, to feel a sense of camaraderie through my words and find hope through my trials and survival.
      You are beautiful Debie.

  3. So true that as we allow our vulnerable side to show others will begin to feel less isolated and more free to join in and find their voice. It is all about making a difference!!

  4. “Yet this woman’s heart-story, her real and raw, made me wonder. Would I, could I, be real? Would I drop my painted masks and reach out for the extended hand of friendship?” This, this right here, the wonder if I can be real, scares me to death. There are things in my past that I’m not sure others (especially those living in my community) would be able to accept. Thank you Jo Ann for allowing my mind to stretch a little more.

  5. Beautifully written. I love what you are doing here. I’ve had so much healing and all because of our Creator. I can’t wait to read more of your stories. Thank you for sharing and encouraging.

  6. Jo Ann, your voice is a gift to women everywhere! I pray that this message spreads far and wide. Too many times we as women hide behind our wounds…still open and weeping poison into our very souls. We need to release our voice into the community in which God has placed us…to open up and let others in. As you point out…it is in true authentic community that we find healing and where our voices are set free!! love you and love the way God is using you!
    Thanks so much for using my pic…it blesses my heart to see God using my gifts to further His kingdom work!
    Gay Idle @CaptiveHeart

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