Loving well in a traumatized world

By Dave Henning / February 4, 2023

“The way to loving well in a traumatized world requires a level of compassionate self-confrontation deep enough to face ourselves, which in turn enables us to relate differently to others.  In short, the person we must learn to love is ourselves, primarily. . . .  We are called to open ourselves to the healing available in God’s love.”- Rich Villodas

As Rich Villodas moves on in Chapter 2 of Good and Kind and Beautiful, he talks about four habits required in order to learn how to love.  Rich covers the first three today.

 1.  Naming our shame.  When trying to navigate our trauma, we must first confess, It’s not my fault.  Especially, Rich stresses, when our pain results from someone else’s sin.  Hence, trauma contains this agonizing and compounding reality.  We carry the pain of traumatizing moments plus bear the internal condemnation of shame.

Furthermore, it’s impossible to establish ourselves in love when shame takes root in us.  Because, Rich states, true love requires vulnerability.  As author and researcher Brene Brown noted, “Vulnerability is the greatest casualty of trauma.”

2.  Making sense of our stories.  Certainly, Pastor Villodas observes, making coherent sense of our stories involves more than a simple chronological overview.  In addition, we must give expression to our story — especially the painful parts.  And do so in a calm, fully present, condemnation-free manner.

Consequently, to live as healthy agents of change in the world, we need to internally navigate our deepest interior stories.  Also, that means we refuse to lie or ignore the truth about our journeys.  For God dwells only in reality.  As Bessel van der Kolk once wrote, “It takes enormous trust and courage to allow yourself to remember.”

3.  Attending to our bodies.  Finally, Rich counsels, moving toward healing requires a deeper level of embodied engagement.  Therefore, think of your body as a major prophet, not a minor one.  Since our rational minds often take a long time to decipher knowledge, listen to your body.  Find well-being.

Today’s question: What Scriptures sustain loving well in a traumatized world?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Wounded healers – our calling”

About the author

Dave Henning

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