YouthWorker Journal -- I wasn't the only one. On that tragic Tuesday, almost everyone I know did the same thing: called to see if their families and friends were okay, and tried to find other people, any people, to be with.

 

September 11 not only brought tragedy and a sense of invasion to our relatively safe cocoon, it crystallized our fears. We felt anger, loss, grief, anxiety, outrage, terror, and almost every possible range of emotion. But we also discovered the terror of isolation.

 

I wanted to be with friends. Having no immediate family other than my husband, I gravitated toward my church small group. A quick phone poll gathered 14 of us for dinner at a friend's house. We huddled around the living room TV, pondering the tragedy. We prayed and worshipped, reminding ourselves and each other of the grace, comfort, and presence of our unshakable God, "our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

 

The presence of friends and the presence of God allowed us to share our pain, our fears, and our deepest feelings. It was safe. It was holy. And the combination of our vulnerability and the comfort of the Holy Spirit brought us closer and began the process of healing.

 

We're a people who need community. However much we must focus on Jesus to meet our needs, standing straight and not allowing others to define us, we still need each other.

 

We share major life events in community. We dance together at weddings, grieve together at funerals, exchange presents at Christmas, worship together on Sundays, and eat together whenever our busy lives permit. Even the service of communion is shared together.

 

So why don't we make healing a community activity? We see counselors and psychologists alone. We experience healing prayer in the quiet of a small prayer circle with one or two others. We pray and agonize alone for God to heal the despair of years of pain or hidden sin. But our brokenness happened in community, in relationship-and so must our healing.

 

Often we shunt our broken parishioners and students to some professional safe caregiver, which, depending on the circumstances, may be a wise decision. But too often we also isolate those very ones who need the safe support of community to get through the process of healing.

 

And worse, we forget that what's acted out in an extreme (or felt in the extreme) by one individual, is often experienced in milder fashion by many in the larger group. In other words, if one student has experienced extreme abuse or addiction or anger, how many others are walking through depression or dysfunction or stressed-out relationships? And how many will go through the extreme later on?