Examining fears and vulnerabilities is one of the core elements of the personal journey that people embark on while at New Life Foundation. This makes our weekly speaker’s meetings one of the most important activities that we do together as a community.
Modelled on the AA speaker’s meetings, the format of the gathering is simple. The whole community comes together in our forest hall on a Thursday evening to listen to one person in the group share their life story: their history, suffering, traumas, joys, struggles, and transformation.
Afterwards, members of the audience reflect on how they are able to relate to this person’s journey. We cap off the evening by expressing gratitude to the speaker for telling us their story (usually with lots of hugs). Anyone who wishes to do so can be a speaker, whether they are a resident, volunteer, or staff member.
Nothing spoken of during the meeting can be repeated outside. All is held in complete confidentiality.
Fighting nerves, anxiety, and shame, the speaker bares her soul by recounting the events, actions, and people that lay at the root of her pain. Nothing is left out, not even the things about which she is the least proud.
More than just an account of one’s past, the speaker’s meeting is a powerful facilitator of inner growth and an important landmark in the healing process. This comes from being able to come face-to-face with traumatic events, accept them, and move past them – all in front of a group of 50 people. It’s one of the most courageous things that anyone could ever do.
The healing extends to those in the audience as well, by showing that someone else has been through similar things, or has experienced similar emotions, yet has been able to overcome these challenges. Even if we are not always able to relate to the story, just to be in the presence of someone reflecting on their struggles can help us all feel just a little less alone.
In this sense, one of the most valuable things that come from sharing our stories is that in the process, we end up sharing strength, and hope.