I had NEVER seen anything so magical and so amazingly and breathtakingly beautiful. As I circled the room watching for signals that the crowd of women was ready to proceed during the workshop, I noticed that at one table each of the eight women had their hands outstretched pointed toward the center of the table with their heads and palms faced down while one of the elders was praying. Among the tears and sobs that filled the atmosphere, there was an obvious understanding and reverence for the fact that they needed each other. I knew that they were “getting it”. They understood that healing was at best a personal decision to embark on a sometimes tiring and tedious journey, but the journey was much better if it was traveled with their sisters by their side.
I teach a workshop about the power and the gift of forgiveness, and usually I teach small groups of no more than 12. I want to maintain the intimacy and privacy of each participant, mostly women to this point, so I keep the group size small. Even though the size of the group is usually compact, it doesn’t negate the fact that we all need each other to heal. I affectionately call each woman who has taken the workshop a member of The Village. The idea is that it takes a village to heal a woman and to help a woman on her journey to a better self. Every month I am astounded at the love, support and grace they show one another on their journey to healing and living their best life.
Why isn’t this- healing, vulnerability, openness and compassionate care- more prevalent, especially in a world where trauma, disease and despair are so widespread? I think that we have been taught as women that in order to be “great” we have to compete to get to the top. Social media has made it easier to fall prone to the fallacy that in order to MATTER we must be BETTER than the next woman. Our houses and wedding rings must be BIGGER, we must get MORE likes on the selfie where the light hits us just right to hide all of the places on our body that we hate, and we must appear to be HAPPIER, HEALTHIER and more WHOLE than the next woman and certainly more than we really are. If I am in competition with the next woman, why would I bare my soul to her? Why would I invite her into my distress or reveal my doubts to her? Why would I think I need her to heal when, in fact, she is a part of the reason why I despise myself so much?
This unhealthy competition fosters low self-esteem and pulls us further away from the true sisterhood that we need in order to heal the wounds that life has left on our faces, backs and thighs. We walk among the wounded never even knowing their despair because we have become accustomed to living the lie, hiding behind the masks and never asking for help.
I call it the “thick of life“. It is when there is trouble, there are unresolved issues, there is heartache, there is disappointment and inner turmoil yet there are still babies to raise, bills to pay, a job to work, a family to uphold, a role to play and obligations to fulfill so THERE IS NO TIME TO SIT AND SUFFER. You work through the suffering as you work through the demands of daily life. You are in the “thick of life“, and the only way to make it through is to have some girlfriends, some trusted ones, a Village that help you make it! Vulnerability becomes a must! Broken down walls become a necessity! WHY!? Because you realize your need for help and your need for someone who you trust and love to take you by the hand, squeeze it and look you square in your eyes with the tears running down your face and say, “Everything is going to be alright!” Healing in a solitary environment where you are trying to bear everything, be superwoman, plaster a smile on your face all while attempting to hold up the weight of your world is frustrating and futile. It will take longer to heal in a world where you are the only inhabitant drowning in a sea of sorrow and self-pity. I guarantee that when you get serious about living your best life and pressing pass the pain of your past, God will send you a Village of strong women to help hold you up on your journey. He will send women who will love and support you unconditionally! He will send women who will hold you accountable for what you want- FREEDOM AND GROWTH! He will send women in whom you will find solace to surrender all of the mess that has been holding you back and holding you captive for so long- too long.
You won’t be afraid or ashamed to cry out, “GIRLFRIEND, I NEED YOU!” because what you will find is that she needs you too.
Let’s dare to heal TOGETHER. It makes the journey lighter when your sister is allowed to hold your hand on the way.