I’ve been interviewing a crop of recent SFI grads, gathering some new ways to tell the MSH story, and I have once again been struck by how powerful connection is. In every single interview, at some point, each of the women shared this revelation: “I found out I am not alone.” That epiphany was a turning point for each of them. To realize that others had the same experiences, emotions, disappointments, struggles, challenges, hopes, and dreams and that they had found a place to share it all was a relief for them.
We have certainly worked diligently to include best practices content and presentation for our curriculum and we are committed to providing a transformational experience through Mother’s Clubs, Electives, and, of course, the Strong Families Institute. But at the foundation of it all is the acknowledgement that God created us for sustaining relationships and when we don’t have them, we suffer. Significantly. Without healthy connections, we easily move into a list of “pathologies” that sidetrack us from living the abundant life God wants for us. The collateral damage from lacking healthy connections is ripping our society apart.
Many of our mothers are here without extended family. They have few, if any, close friends. They see themselves as isolated trapped, afraid, without hope. They truly do feel alone, that their difficulties are theirs alone and are a result of their own inadequacies and unworthiness. One woman said, “It was overwhelming to me that every time I came through the door at My Safe Harbor, someone was there to greet me, give me a hug, look me in the eye, ask me how I was. No one has ever done that for me with such obvious concern for ME. Probably the best change I have made is that I make sure every time my children come home from school I stop what I’m doing, give them a hug, ask about their day, and be sure they know I love them.”
As proud as we are of our program, I am most pleased that we are successfully creating a place where women feel safe to take the risk and do the hard work of change. For many we have become their surrogate family and we provide the connections, support, accountability, stability, nurturing, and expectations that are part of every healthy family. They definitely are NOT alone. And neither am I. What a relief.