Hold Hands With Strangers Chapter Review

Hey guys! Sorry It’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated this corner of my blog I love so much! The “Sure, Babe Book Club”… gosh I just love you all that are savoring this experience to go deeper with me into this book and into becoming more vulnerable, whole, and brave people. Sadly I left my heavily marked up book on the airplane home from Hawaii but I bought another and just finished Chapter 6: Hold Hands. With Strangers….soooooo good! This might be my favorite chapter yet. Let’s dig in.

  1. Dr. Brown comes right out and says it in the first sentence. We are in a spiritual crisis, and the key to building a true belonging practice is maintaining our belief in inextricable human connection. In the next sentence she says that the connection-the spirit that flows between us and every human being is not something that can be broken. However, our belief in the connection is constantly tested and repeatedly severed. How have you experience a severed spiritual connection with someone in your life? Think macro and micro….People you don’t know personally and people you know very personally. If you have had a severed spiritual connection with someone in your life, how can you find peace in knowing you are still connected on a human level while also maintaining appropriate boundaries if need? Also if you were the one that severed the connection how could you reconnect with this person or group of people?
  2. Showing up for collective moments of joy and pain: Concerts, Funerals, Weddings, Plays, Football Games, Marches, Natural Disasters….Have any of these events allowed you to feel that collective joy, pain or connection with a stranger? Write down some of these pivotal moments somewhere so you can remember what it’s like to come together in true connection with strangers.
  3. On page 127 Brown says in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, “I remember thinking, Maybe if all the mothers in the world crawled on their hands and knees toward those parents in Newtown, we could take some of the pain away. We could spread their pain across all of our hearts. I would do it. Can’t we find a way to hold some of it for them? I’ll take my share. Even if it adds sadness to all my days.” GAHHHHHHH! I can’t write/read this without the tears welling up. My heart literally feels heavy and I realize it’s because I would do that too. Sharing pain with others is the only way to comfort; not fixing it, not avoiding it, sharing it. PAIN sucks but it’s real and unavoidable and the only thing that mends pain is shared pain... empathy like this is a balm to a nasty wound. Who are some people that you have shared pain with.
  4. A Sensation Of Sacredness: Émile Durkheim writes about this and “collective effervescence” in his 1912 book, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Durkheim proposes that when we are a part of something bigger than us during these times of collective effervescence our focus shifts from self to group. And it turns out that experiences of “collective assembly” add significantly to the quality of our life and decreases loneliness. This reminded me of when I was 22 years old, I was fresh out of college, working in San Francisco and I felt lost. I had just graduated college and my friends and I were scattered all over just trying to “adult” and take jobs where ever we could find them. My first job led me to a busy city that was nothing like the tight knit community I had at my small liberal arts college. I was incredibly lonely and I was drawn to running groups, coffee shops, movie theaters, and roaming around Target in my free time. This might sound sad to some of you but being in these areas with strangers made me feel less alone and helped me through those difficult times when I was floundering to find friends. Is there an activity, public place or musical group that makes you feel connected to something bigger than yourself?
  5. A Ministry of Presence: Read the quote by John O’Donohue on page 132… The part at the end “This is not about forging a relationship with a distant God but about the realization that we are already within God.” Whoa that thought blew my mind and made me smile. What could you accomplish, do or be if you truly believed that God or The Devine resided in you?
  6. Common Enemy Intimacy: When Brown talks about counterfeit connections and gossip being a killer of real connection it convicted me. I’ve had plenty of these types of connections; it’s so easy and human to find connection over discussing your judgements and or dislikes of others. How did this section impact you? I wrote this down so I can remember this “counterfeit connection”: GOSSIP= Not Belonging=Loneliness. It also reminded me of the movie Mean Girls and every other pack-like clique that I’ve ever know. I can see now that each mean girl is really just sad and lonely and lacking true connection.
  7. Fuel for reconnection is asking ourselves this: How am I participating in conversations?, Are certain conversations I’m having with others moving the relationship forward? And am I engaging in behavior that I find loathsome in others? When you ask yourself these questions what comes up? Let me get real vulnerable and raise my hand to tell you that I have engaged in conversations like this. In fact I used to have a friend that loved to gossip, she judged harshly and I found that most of our conversations revolved around putting people down…usually people on socially media, but it brought me DOWN! I left all our hangout sessions feeling icky and incongruent with myself. I felt terrible for the judgement that was passed and that I went along with it. It was only a matter of time until I ended up on her “uncool list” and it HURT. You’d think I’d learn my lesson but I found solace in talking bad about her and what she did to me and, newsflash to myself, that didn’t make me feel any better. The pain didn’t go away until I found forgiveness for her and found true connection with others that build me up. Honestly thinking of this severed friendship still brings me some pain but now I focus on how it helped me identify the person I want to be, signs when I’m not being true to myself and how to love others even when they dislike me. This is an example of a “bankrupted connection”, in which collective joy can never be found at the expense of others.
  8. Social Media and True Connection: What did you think about this section? I thought it was pretty profoundly true. I’m on social media everyday for work and I’ve made legit connections on Instagram and Facebook that have added to my life. However, when my time spent on these apps surpasses my time spent in face to face connection the quality of my life suffers. How have you experienced this and what true connections have you made through social media?
  9. Foreboding Joy: Oh this struck a cord in me. For years I’ve tried to get ahead of pain by actually fearing being fully joyful. Certain moments in life seem to have tricked me into thinking that if I didn’t let go of fear I might be safer. It’s just not true… anxiety steals joy. The only way to combat foreboding joy is gratitude. Gratitude for what we have and for the fact that we don’t have to walk alone in life and that God is within me and you! Phew what a way to end this chapter and find peace and joy before the Thanksgiving Holiday. Write a list of 10 things that you are grateful for today.

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