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There Is No Refuge From Ourselves


The place was called Concept House, an in-patient substance abuse rehab center located in Little Haiti, an unremarkable section in Miami, Florida. I went there when I reached my life’s bottom and the darkest night of my soul. My experience at Concept House was a defining time in my life. I didn’t know what to expect when I got there. Shortly after I arrived, I ended up in a group of twenty people or so. One person from the group, a young woman, shared her deepest darkest secret. She spoke about a deeply shameful event she went through. I suspect most people would take that story to their grave rather than let anyone know about it.

To those who were present to hear her story, it was a shock to the senses. This was before a group of people who were not easily shocked by anything. This motley crew had heard, seen, or been part of nearly everything you could imagine. Yet we were stunned to silence by what we were hearing. It was so disturbing, I’ve chosen not to write about it here. I’ll just say it was a taboo that went against all norms of a civilized society. I could not help but think about how much courage it took for her to share her story before a group of people she hardly knew. After the session, nearly everyone present expressed heartfelt admiration for her; we looked up to her like she was a superhero.

Until I started reading Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, I hadn’t thought about this event for over thirty years. Brown wrote that in order for us to live from a place of worthiness we must, among other things, have the courage to speak honestly and openly about who we are, what we’re feeling, and the totality of our experiences - good and bad. Interestingly, after the young woman shared, it gave me and several other people from the group the courage to talk about secrets we previously would never consider sharing with anyone. I also learned that what may be significant and shameful acts to me probably aren’t that big of a deal to anyone else.


When we reveal secrets that we normally keep to ourselves (preferably to a compassionate and accepting group), we unleash the emotional charge behind them. We end up feeling better when we are open and honest with others. We are also relieved to find that people, instead of thinking the worse of us, feel more positive toward us for being open. If we continue to be on the lookout for secrets we hold onto that we keep from ourselves and others, we discover that when we release them, we remove blocks that tie us up in knots and hold us back from being the vital expressions of God we are meant to be.


Peace and Blessings,


James


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