Sometimes people say to let your past be in your past, but the truth I’ve found is that the past plays a huge role and forms us into who we are today. Everything we have been through shapes our outlook on today. In one sense we never escape our past, but how we use it and more importantly how we allow God to use it makes all the difference in the life we get to live today.
A friend told me once that deep within the human heart rest the two greatest human needs and they determine the quality of the life we live. The first is the need to be loved. We can see this immediately in a newborn baby. The baby’s first response is the need to reach out and connect lovingly with their mother. In this they know that they are deeply loved. The second greatest human need is to love others. In the loving of others and putting them first, we find the gift of an abundant life.
My childhood came to define my life for many years. As a young adult I could not get out of my childhood home fast enough. When I graduated from University, I was in a frenzied hurry to get into my career and make a difference. My motivation was rooted as much in my desire to succeed in my career as it was in my childhood relationship with my father. His job meant that he was travelling often for business and was away for days and sometimes weeks on end. It’s what he did to support our family. But at the same time, it left me longing for more time with my dad. As a result, I never really felt like I was loved by him. He wasn’t an unloving dad; he just wasn’t loving. As a child I needed and longed for his love and to know that I was loved. This unmet desire drove me to try to earn his love by proving self-worth in my career. This childhood history would take many years for me to grow out of and be free from, in the meanwhile my past not only came with me, but it defined me.
It’s a crazy world. There are so many people hurting today. Increasingly it seems people are living lives void of these two greatest needs we all need and want. Social media is so often toxic and hate filled, our news media tends to be about shaming others, COVID has further isolated us from one another. We seem to have lost any sense of civility and love for others. Maybe this is a reflection of so many not living in a loving relationship with God first and so instead the pain and hurt inside us bubbles out. You can’t give what you don’t have.
The Bible tell us we love because God first loved us. It’s a part of how we are created. Saint Augustine tells us our hearts will be restless until they find rest in God, and I think we are living in world where too many don’t know the experience of God’s Love, even many Christians. We were created for our hearts to be filled with the love of God and out of that to love others. God has done the work, but we need to live out of His Love every day. We all have a part to play in this world and this part has been given to us.
My work with the Recovery Café has taught me a great deal about the importance that love and compassion can have on a life that is hurting and shame filled. Compassion is the antidote to shame and hurt. When we offer compassion to those who are hurting the power of love creates the space for hearts to trust, open and be vulnerable. There in that place hearts are healed. That is what the Recovery Café is all about, a place of hope and healing for those suffering with the pain of their past lives.
Many people in our world suffer from trauma, depression, and addiction. The suffering comes not because of the bad things that happen to them, but what happens inside because of what happened to them. Without compassion the hurts from our past can’t heal and every time we are hurt again scar tissue on our heart forms and we limp along in life, often times trying to mask our pain in harmful behaviors. That inner healing must be found if we are to live fully and it is found in the healing of compassion. It took me an ascent to the top of a Fortune 100 company to prove to myself the world will not give what we all need, only Jesus does.
That is why Recovery Café was created in 2004 to be a refuge of healing and hope. It does not replace any other recovery programs but works with them. Its simply a community where through trust, respect and loving accountability space is created for the healing so many of us need. I am very blessed to be a part of our faith community that is willing to show the world the healing power of compassion and its ability to overcome shame, trauma, addiction, and hopelessness.
Love to you all!