Hope and Healing

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When God unites His children around a common mission, He unleashes hope, and sometimes, as was the case for Lynn Caniglia, deep healing occurs.  

In 2018, after breaking free from an abusive marriage, Lynn returned to Omaha beaten down and broken. Though she immediately felt safe attending church services at Christ Community, her experiences outside weren’t so peaceful. “I had a lot of anxiety,” she said, “in new situations and being around a lot of people, especially those I don’t know.”

And so, for a while, her world remained relatively small, manageable. 

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But then spring flooding swept over much of Nebraska.  At first, she was largely oblivious to the extent of devastation. “I went to work, went home,” she said. “Didn’t listen to the radio or watch much television.” Her awareness grew exponentially, however, once she learned all that her coworker, Angela Robertson, has suffered. “She lost her home and everything in it,” Lynn said. “So it became personal.” 

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The church immediately mobilized, both to help community members and one of their own. “Everyone here wanted to help out,” Lynn said. “They donated clothes, money, time.” Soon, others throughout the Metro and beyond, including various disaster relief organizations, joined in. One of the organizations, Eight Days of Hope, brought all their trailers and set up camp in the church gym. Then, everyone met to discuss who would do what, how, and where.

Some volunteers served out in the field while others, like Lynn, stayed back at the church to help in the kitchen and with other facilities’ related tasks. With her anxiety, this felt like the best place for her to serve. As she did, she was immediately struck by the Christ-like attitudes demonstrated by those with Eight Days of Hope. “They thanked us for allowing them to stay,” she said. “They couldn’t say that enough. My thoughts were, ‘We need to be thanking you. You’re sacrificing your time with your family to come here and help our neighbors.”

Their love for one another and those they served touched, inspired, and drew her. “I would stay after work helping to finish getting the food ready, and I’d help serve people as they came in. Before every meal, everyone” up to 100 of them, a number that normally would’ve caused her significant anxiety, “circled up together, holding hands and praying.”

She joined them, and to her amazement, she felt completely safe.

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“This was something new,” she said. “There were more men than women, which right there would’ve been a huge trigger for me.” Yet there she stood, with a man on either side of her, and she felt completely at peace.

And in that moment, it was as if God was saying to her, “I’ve always been here.” She knew He would get her through anything, and He filled her heart with a newfound passion. “It was almost like He was showing me my purpose.” She said. “I’ve struggled with that. What’s my purpose, the skills that He gave me? And I thought, ‘This is it.”

He brought so much healing to her through the two week event—helping her feel comfortable in larger groups and with men. But perhaps most beautifully, he infused her heart with hope. “He made me feel like I’m needed. Like I’m worthy and there’s a reason I’m here.” 

During her time as an abused wife, she’d doubted each of those truths, and at times, felt she would’ve been better off dead. But not anymore. Now she’s excited not only to live, but to live a life that goes beyond belief! 

Written By Jennifer Slattery
Photography by Bryant Belknap

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