In fall of 2010, my husband and I were in the throes of relocating to the United States after living overseas. Our young marriage was failing, and we were doing all we could just to keep it together. We were a mess. Not long after arriving, Nathaniel was offered a youth director position with a local church, so naturally we began attending. I realized pretty quickly, that this sweet community would not be the place where we would process our garbage. We were messy and we needed a safe place to be messy, and so we prayed and began our search for healing.
About two months into seeking, we stumbled upon a small church plant in our town. During our first visit they spoke of vulnerability, hospitality, and – plainly – “doing life” together. We were skeptical, because, let’s be serious, we were barely doing life just with each other, how could we possibly do life with others, strangers? Despite doubt, we continued to show up weekly, break bread with these strangers, and really learn about the love of Jesus. Before long, we were sharing openly about our brokenness and praying earnestly for one another. Over the period of what became two years, we walked slowly, purposefully, and authentically with this community. The role and purpose of community changed for me during those years. Community was no longer merely elective; community became central to our knowing and understanding the love of Christ.
Fast forward to 2017, autumn. I was hired by Amirah to take on the role of Community Life Coordinator. I entered the home equipped with the life-altering belief that we can be transformed if we allow ourselves to engage and be healed in community. I believed in the power of healing in community, but would or could the women? Consider this: Our women enter our home, which is not yet their home, at a station in life where vulnerability is liability and where life or death are at stake. How might a healthy, healing community function in such a context, could it even exist at all? This is our challenge.
Over the past year I have found that the miracle of community, the type that heals, happens in small, unexpected moments, not unlike my experiences of the past – lives within the walls of Amirah. It was the ordinary moments created by merely doing life alongside others, sharing in the highs and the lows –– which healed my marriage. It is these same ordinary moments created in the Amirah community which offers healing to the women every day. These ordinary moments of healing occur when we sit and break bread and when the meal is done, a survivor offers to wash the dishes of another. Moments when the roommates wish each other a good night and greet each other in the morning. These moments are MIRACULOUS. Miracles facilitated by life lived together.
We have to be cautious to honor all the moments of victory in the lives of our women, as they walk the road of healing. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer so wisely suggests in his work Life Together, we cannot simply pray for the big things, and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet not so small) gifts. When a woman graduates from our program, we celebrate the many, many small moments which lead to her victory. We are praying for the miraculous to arrive daily in the lives of our women in the form of many small and ordinary moments. Those moments are the stepping stones that lead her to a life lived in freedom. This is the work of Amirah. Hope truly does live here.
You can contribute to our community of healing by volunteering with Amirah. Visit www.amirahnewengland.org/volunteer to learn more about volunteering in our safe home, with our outreach programs, and much more.