Thomas has been angry for a long time. A few weeks ago, he scorched his shirt while ironing it in the dorm area. Throwing the iron on the floor, he shattered it. “That was just the last straw for me,” he said.
Destruction of Helping Up Mission property – and the iron was – is cause for dismissal from our Program. But our Program exists to help men get better – and Thomas definitely needed that. Since people are primarily not problems to be fixed, but a story that needs to be heard, our staff sat down and discussed what was going on in his life.
In class a few days later we were discussing the concept of personal inventory – the listing of things in our hearts that can cause outward behavior. Reflecting on Jesus’ statement, “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Thomas noted, “I’ve always got something to say to everyone! I’m angry. I love being here but every day I’m trying to memorize Bible passages, pass tests….” Then he stopped talking, sighed and added, “I made good money out there, but I never could read very well and it always frustrated me. I’ve never told anyone, but I’m telling you guys.”
Thomas knew his frustration was no excuse. Now he was learning that identifying the source of that frustration brings understanding which leads to healing. And sharing in class like he did allows for even greater healing – a risk, but one worth taking.
After Thomas spoke, others did, too. Four guys committed to help him with his reading. That day Thomas was freed from some fear and shame, and even experienced a community of others rallying around him.
Henri Nouwen once wrote, “The wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone – those wounds become sources of healing when lived as part of a fellowship of mutual care.” Thomas is beginning to find that out.
Hope, Answers and Empowerment for all,
Associate Spiritual Life Director