Wouldn’t a world with strong, healthy, loving communities be utopia? A place where the heart rules and government is just and fair.

I’m talking here about communities in which people live with hearts that are fully alive in their day to day. Where the effects of trauma, shame, neglect, and disease are being treated with love, respect, and care. The hurts and shame of the past brought into the present where it is safe.

How is that possible in a world at war?

In one of my favorite books of all time, Waking the Dead, John Eldridge talks about us living in a world at war but functioning as people who believe that Jesus died so we can have hearts fully alive. He paid for that. In the chapter, Fellowships of the Heart, John writes:

 God is calling together little communities of the heart, to fight for one another and for the hearts of those who have not yet been set free. That camaraderie, that  intimacy, that incredible impact by a few stouthearted souls—-that is available. It is the Christian life as Jesus gave it to us. It is completely normal.

Wouldn’t that be a “new normal” worth fighting for?

Does that mean we walk through life with not a care in the world? Hardly. In John 10:10 in the New Testament, Jesus teaches that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The thief (enemy of our souls) seeks to devour us. It is through a relationship with Jesus and a community of believers that it’s possible to have hearts fully alive no matter what the circumstances are.

In The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D, brain science is now proving that we can heal the effects of trauma and abuse through telling our stories and moment-to-moment self-awareness. He believes that these two activities change the emotional brain. Now that is good news!

Moment-to-moment self-awareness is based primarily in physical sensations. If we feel safe and not rushed, we can find words to communicate our trauma and become grounded in the present. True loving community can help foster that healing.

Kolk goes on to say when we activate our gut (heart) feelings and listen to our heartbreak, things change. As we are available to others to do this in a safe community, we can bring avenues of change in ourselves and others.

So, how do we foster communities of the heart in our families, neighborhoods, churches, work environment, and homes? By allowing children, teens, and adults to tell their stories with non-judgement and love. Being watchful for signs of abuse and neglect and being active to do something about it.

Helping people get out in nature, providing things they need and desire, be a listening ear, praying for a neighbor provides a shelter in the storm. When we strive to be people with hearts fully alive, we bring healing in our wake.

Can you remember a time when being able to tell your story brought release from pain and sorrow? Do you need shelter in this storm of social distancing and fear? Who can you think of you could trust to talk to? Also, who can you think of that might need a listening ear or acts of kindness?