Personal Transformation: Awakening to Past Wrongs

Check out this post with Marlena Fiol and Nothing Bad Between Us

In my last blog post, I shared my belief in the importance of vulnerably and honestly acknowledging the wrongs of the past in order to move toward healing. I call it the “awakening” step, a prerequisite for the healing process.

A number of my guests from the last three seasons of my podcast Becoming Who You Truly Are, have addressed this very issue.

The first season, titled Self-Discovery Through Adversity, revealed the inspirational stories of people who have faced horrific adversities, and in the process, have uncovered new possibilities in their lives. One of my most cherished guests of that first season was my sister Mary Lou Bonham. She’s my sister, yes, but she’s also a trained and wise psychotherapist.

Here’s what Mary Lou said about the need to acknowledge past wrongs:

“I have a lot of cautions around short-cutting the process of forgiveness because I think there’s a lot of things that are called forgiveness that aren’t really forgiveness and they can be toxic.
I would say the first part of forgiveness, and it could take years or forever, is that we have to see the truth with boldness. We have to be able to name what those pains and hurts were. It is simply not sugarcoating any of it. It is going to the depths of what that experience was, and coming to terms with what those wounds were, and how we experienced them.”

Dr. Ann Graber Hershberger, the incoming Executive Director of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), addressed the issue of “awakening” at the collective level. Her interview will be part of Season Three of my podcast, titled Finding Your Truest Self, scheduled to begin airing on August 24. MCC is grappling as an organization with the collective transgressions of Mennonites in the past, including localized antisemitism during WWII and settling on – and thereby stealing – land belonging to native Americans in North and South America.

Ann believes that an awareness of conflicts – or wrongs – has to precede any movement toward lasting peace, even at the collective level:

“If you don’t have the lens of conflict – which people often don’t think about, thinking about conflict when you’re thinking about peace, as a way to create peace – but you have to expose, and understand, and explore, and talk about conflict before you can get to peace.”

Finally, there’s Tom DeWolf, my guest in podcast Season Two, titled Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Tom is my guest on the next episode, airing on July 27th. He’s Program Manager of Coming to the Table, an organization devoted to awakening all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that are rooted in our country’s history of slavery. They do this through, in Tom’s words, “a real deep dive into how racism impacts all of us, how it impacts people of color, how it impacts people of European descent, and with the goal of helping us to transform.”

Tom argues that we will not heal collectively, without first healing as individuals. He says,

“The reason society operates as it does is because collectively, we collaborate with how it works.”

So, if I don’t awaken individually, the collective isn’t going to awaken. I want to continue to be a part of the awakening consciousness, whether it’s regarding my family or the larger society around me.


Nothing Bad Between Us

A Mennonite Missionary’s Daughter Finds Healing in Her Brokenness

This story differs from similar accounts of childhood domination or abuse because it tells the story of the author’s seemingly paradoxical responses to the powerful forces in my life, but doesn’t leave it at that. It sheds light on the social and religious dynamics underlying these responses, giving readers insights into and understanding of her otherwise incomprehensible choices, as she found my way back into loving relationships with her parents and the Mennonite community.