In the Gospel of Thomas — an ancient, sacred writing that didn’t make the cut into the Bible–Jesus says,
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
Recently, as I’ve worked with this powerful teaching in my own life, it occurred to me that the process of “bringing forth what is within you” is at the heart of what happens in our Recovery Circles.
Recovery Café was founded on the assumption that there is within each of us a place of Divine Love. It was founded on the understanding that when we suffer one trauma after another after another we can lose touch with that place of the Divine in ourselves. We can begin to identify with the inner wounds caused by our trauma and the behaviors that emerge from those wounds instead of taking our identity from that place of Divine love at the core of our being.
Part of what happens in Recovery Circles is that we are able to “bring forth,” week after week, the inner wounds of our lifetime and the behaviors, or ways of being in the world, that emerge from those wounds – like fear, anger, shame, blame and self-loathing. As we bring these things forth they are met with unconditional love and they begin to lose some of their power over us. We begin to heal from the inside out. We start to see how the wounds and behaviors have limited us, but that they are not us.
As we see that the wounds and behaviors are not us, we are able to claim at deeper and deeper levels our true identity—which is love. Our deepest, truest self is love. In short, as we bring the inner wounds and harmful habits forth for healing we also bring forth the love that is at the core of our being. The process of “bringing forth” both our wounds and the love underneath our wounds “saves” us, one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time.
If we do not “bring forth,” – or bring to conscious awareness–the wounds of our past and the harmful habits related to those wounds, they can destroy us.
When we “bring forth” – or bring to conscious awareness – in the context of healing community, we not only prevent the trauma and harmful behaviors from destroying us, we prevent the trauma and harmful behaviors from destroying our children and our childrens’ children. Richard Rohr reminds us, “What does not get transformed gets transmitted.”
Jennifer, a member of Recovery Café Seattle, suffered sexual trauma throughout her childhood. She numbed the pain of her childhood through drugs and alcohol for much of her adult life.
Now, because of Jennifer’s life in recovery, her commitment to “bringing forth,” she is a force for good in the lives of her eight grandchildren. She is not allowing the wounds from her past to destroy her and, by breaking the cycle of abuse, she is not allowing the wounds of her past to destroy her grandchildren.
The call to do our inner, healing work is not just for our own sake, or for the sake of those whose lives are touched by ours. We also do our inner, healing work for the sake of those who come after us and those who come after them and their larger communities. We do this work for the sake of countless individuals we will never even meet.
Thank you for holding safe spaces where all can “bring forth what is within.” In so doing you are creating a more loving and just world for future generations.