Beginning Again

Beginning Again

I am new to the CHRIS 180 family, having worked for some time at the now closed Care and Counseling Center of Georgia, I now work at the CHRIS Counseling Center – DeKalb. The counseling center has been in my life since I came to Atlanta for seminary and hospital chaplaincy training at Grady Memorial Hospital.

As a clergy person, I spend time leading worship services and funerals. Believing strongly that what we do is deeply spiritual, which is always better done than spoken, it is my privilege to share our work. Here is a scene from a recent funeral for Irma, 97, who lived simply and gave deeply.

“Today, I serve at CHRIS 180. You may have not heard of them. They are a behavioral health organization that provides counseling focused on helping people heal from trauma. They offer many services for children and families who have been traumatized.  Some children come from the foster care system where they have fallen through the cracks, some come from families who have abandoned them, some were trafficked on the streets. All of them were damaged. . .by adults. Adults who have lied to them; abused them physically, emotionally, spiritually; and sold them on the streets. That’s called ‘trauma.’ In the end they have had adults in their lives who betrayed them in some way. Everybody who goes through orientation for this organization understands that we provide trauma-informed care. And that means that we never, ever betray these young people. We do not make promises we cannot keep, and we do not lie to them. Beginning there, we try to rebuild stable, normal relationships where these kids are respected, loved, and listened to. Many adults have a damaged kid inside of them who is in trauma.  

With that I want you to hear what daughter Michelle has to say about her mother as she was growing up: ‘I never doubted for a minute that I was loved, even when I was not so lovable. She was my biggest cheerleader, always ready to celebrate an accomplishment or offer encouragement when it was needed.’  Irma and John built a home together, a home that loved; a home that nurtured every child so that each one was supported, encouraged, celebrated, and yes, corrected when they were driving into a ditch. Sometimes they ran into the ditch. But Irma was there to help them out and start over. These were the basic ingredients of a world-class home. Irma’s home was a place of foundational love which produced foundational joy.”

Tough as it is, kids are resilient. Tough as it is, each of us can find the nurture we need and begin again.

Tom Van Laningham, MDiv., establishes and supports a web of satellite centers for CHRIS Counseling – DeKalb.  



Tom Van Laningham, MDiv.
[email protected]
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