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Restoring Justice through Restored Identity, Agency, and Trustworthy Connections

The work of restoring justice takes on many forms, and the one that I have been involved in for the past 25 years occurs in the relational microcosm of the therapy room. As a marriage and family therapist (MFT), I have worked in hospitals, outpatient community and nonprofit agencies, university clinics, private practices, church counseling centers, and academic training sites. Although the clinical contexts have varied, the focus of the work has remained the same: restore clients’ connection to themselves and their connection to others.

These interrelated goals of restoring intrapersonal and interpersonal connections are essential in any kind of restorative work where the natural outcome of these connections is the experience of seeing others and being seen by others. Being seen is the starting point of being known and belonging, and if we are to take seriously the claim that every person bears the image of God, then we ought to see, perceive, and treat ourselves and others in alignment with this claim. And we also acknowledge that the contrary is true. When we are disconnected from our own humanity and to the humanity of others, we are at a greater risk of disregarding (at best) or violating (at worst) ourselves and one another. Thus, restoring connection to self and to others directly ties into the work of restoring justice, because when we see the worth and value of each person as God’s creation, then we desire our relationships and our communities to congruently reflect that truth.

An outcome of a more congruent and consolidated sense of identity and relationships is the ability to see oneself rightly in the context of a relational system in which love, identity, accountability, and safety are valued. It is in this relational space that justice can be restored.

Throughout Scripture, God’s work of restoring justice begins with the pursuit of a person or a people whose life or lives betrayed the truth of the identity and purpose God intended for them. Eventually, God restores their identities and leads them to challenge the existing systems of injustice around them. However, God first meets them in moments of vulnerability and demonstrates an intimate connection to their hearts. Consider Moses in the desert, Zacchaeus in the tree, Mary Magdalene in the town square, and Jesus’ disciples in the upper room. God pursues them by first declaring, in word and action, that he sees them and knows them. Without disregarding their fears, failures, and doubts, God acknowledges who they are, takes account of their limitations and vulnerabilities, restores their identities as his own, and calls them to live more fully into whom he created them to be.

A restored identity is one that has been made right with God, with oneself, and with the community. And it is from restored identities that individuals, families, and communities can begin to effect change toward restored systems of justice.

A Family Systems Perspective: Expanding the Lens for Restoring Justice

As an MFT, the locus of my work is in the therapy room with individuals, couples, and families who are courageously seeking restoration by changing, disrupting, and healing from intergenerational patterns of pain. However, although I primarily work in the microcosm of the therapy room, the family systems perspective orients me to see my clients as individuals, couples, and families who are embedded in larger macro systems that either serve as a resource for resiliency and healing or contribute to the dysfunction within the micro relational system.

The family systems perspective is an ecosystemic lens and is one of the hallmarks of the MFT field. It is the primary framework through which MFTs conceptualize and approach our clinical work. The image of a mobile provides a helpful depiction of family systems, as every piece, connected by wire, moves when one piece is touched. Like the individual parts of a mobile, the whole family system is impacted by the actions of each member, whether this occurs in present time or over the course of generations. Clients and their presenting problems are situated within the context of their past and present social systems (particularly their family systems). Although each individual is ultimately responsible for the attitudes, assumptions, choices, and behaviors that they live out, it is important to understand the ways that their assumptions and behaviors are expressions of the social systems from where they came and in which they are currently embedded.

Over the course of my career, the family systems perspective has impacted me both professionally and personally, as it informs my understanding of myself, others, relationships, and institutions and is the lens through which I continuously make meaning of my experiences in the world. For example, I have been on a journey of discovery about how my assumptions, my imagination, and my sensibilities as an Asian American woman and therapist are embedded in macro social, political, and historical dynamics as well as micro relational systems within my community and the history of my family. These explorations have had profound implications for me in my identity and my voice in the multiple social contexts in which I live. I possess the same multifaceted identity and the same potential to use my voice wherever I go, but depending on the context, I am either seen or invisible, audible or muted. I pay attention to the social context while I wrestle with the reality that my voice is not always welcome simply as a result of who I am. I have developed the skill of multivocality, knowing that the skill of contextualizing my voice is a byproduct of my bicultural agility, but at times I still wonder if I compromise the fidelity of my voice in order to be heard in spaces where I am otherwise muted. I am in constant interaction with my social and physical environment, but because of my experiences of marginalization, I am more aware of the tensions and dynamics of those interactions. The family systems perspective has provided both the language and the maps for me to make sense of my experiences.

As the family systems perspective conceptually and practically situates the individual, couple, and family within their social context, MFTs are trained to work with multiple members of those systems in the therapy room. Working with multiple people in the therapy room is a challenging but highly effective way to work directly with the relational system, where the pain exists and where healing can be sustained, because relationships are the crucibles for change. Meaningful and sustained change occurs in relational spaces and in the context of relationships—not in the isolation of an individual. If we are to seek meaningful change in ourselves and our relationships, then understanding the anatomy of relationships is a good place to begin.

Anatomy of Relationships: A Locus of Change for Restoring Justice

The late philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich posited that love, power, and justice are fundamental constructs of all human relationships and social systems. In his book Love, Power, and Justice, Tillich wrote about the three interrelated principles and how, together, they function to inform how we are to relate to one another and to God.1 Like the persons of the Holy Trinity, love, power, and justice are distinct from one another while also interrelated, as the purpose and the effect of love, power, and justice are most fully realized when they exist in concert with one another. Drawing from Tillich’s trifecta—which provides a comprehensive framework for relational and spiritual connection—I would suggest that there are three corresponding constructs in family therapy that are salient in the anatomy of relationships: identity (love), agency (power), and trustworthy connection to other (justice).

Identity is what we bring into relationships. Trustworthy connection is how we build and sustain relationships. And agency is the responsibility and accountability we hold within relationships.

As a Restoration Therapy therapist, my clinical work focuses first on helping clients gain insight about the pain they bear due to violations of identity and trustworthiness they have experienced, and then we focus on identifying a new narrative based on restored truths about identity and trustworthiness that promote healthy, relational connection to self and to others.2 The process of change builds on the insights gained. Eventually, clients develop a consciousness about the choice they have to either live reactively out of their pain or live with agency from their restored truths. These three constructs of identity, agency, and trustworthy connections are key components of all relationships and will be further explored below.

Identity (Love)

Identity is the internalized sense and externalized expression of an individual’s being. In individualistic cultures, this is conceptualized as the uniqueness of an individual apart from the larger group. In collectivistic cultures the identity is less about the uniqueness of the individual and more about an extension of the group. Regardless of cultural context, identity is integral to relationships as it is part of what we have to offer and receive when relating to one another.

As a Restoration Therapy therapist, I work with the assumption that identity is the primary emotion that is formed through the multidimensional expressions of agape, phileo, and eros love. Love is the conduit through which we receive messages that we have value and worth, that we belong and know to whom we belong, and that we are not alone. We know we have value. We perceive the ways each of us are unique, and in the uniqueness of our identities we belong to one another. We do not exist in isolation. Love forms the most fundamental aspect of our identities as being beloved and extends far deeper than the sentimentality of charity and affection.

Psychological and relational pain is a corollary of identity violations, where love was withheld, skewed, and manipulated during critical moments within formative relationships. When we receive the painful messages and internalize the lies that we are not good enough, that we are damaged goods, that we are alone, or that we are inherently unlovable, we are reactive in our coping and become further removed from a core identity that is rooted in truth and love. We need truth-speakers to send new and alternative messages of love and to help restore our identities to who God intended for us to be as his beloved creation, made in God’s image.

Agency (Power)

Power is present in all relationships, and two elements of power that are important to consider are agency and privilege. Agency is the belief that we possess the ability and resources (internal and/or external) to affect change and are able to employ those abilities and resources toward action or intentional restraint from action. Agency is related to identity, as our sense of agency is birthed out of the value we have in ourselves and the family or community in which we belong. When we know that we are not alone and that we have something to offer, we can stand rooted in that truth and be emboldened to be changemakers for the good of ourselves and others. Our agency as Christians is rooted in the narrative of faithfulness of those who have gone before us, reminding us from where we came and to whom we belong. In Hebrews 11 and 12, we read God’s promise that we are surrounded by a faithful cloud of witnesses of those who went before us, of those upon whose shoulders we stand:

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Heb 11:39–12:2)

Agency and power are not one and the same however. It is possible to be in a position of power but not have agency. I would suggest that when power and authority is intentionally used to effect change or maintain a status quo that marginalizes, exploits, or in any way diminishes a person’s or a community’s identity as God’s creation, the person with the power lacks agency and is instead acting out of reactivity and dysregulated emotions. I believe that the understanding of agency as described above is correct, but it is incomplete because agency is not simply the ability to act. I would add: “Agency is the belief that we possess the ability and resources (internal and/or external) to effect change that promotes human thriving and are able to employ those abilities and resources toward action or intentional restraint from action.” Agency leads to affecting change that fosters healthy connection, relational resilience, and mutuality. Simply having the power or the resources to cause change may be an act of control or authority, but it is not necessarily agency if the person is being reactive. Everyone has the potential for agency, regardless of their position of power or powerlessness, because agency is tied to identity and not to position. 

We cannot discuss power without also considering privilege. Where agency is more closely tied to identity, privilege is about access to resources, both earned and unearned. The resources may be internal, such as knowledge, motivation, and temperament, or they may be external, such as social support, employment, and financial stability. Dominique DuBois Gilliard’s book Subversive Witness: Scripture’s Call to Leverage Privilege provides good examples of the use of privilege to meaningfully counter injustice.3 He illuminates characters throughout Scripture who did not conform to the patterns of the world around them but instead, by the power of the Holy Spirit, leveraged the privilege they had to call out systems of injustice and take action to bring about change. The story of saints such as Moses, Esther, Paul, and Silas are retold in a new way, compelling the reader to consider this work of justice not as a secular social agenda but rather as an expression of the Christian’s commitment to restore God’s kingdom today, here and now.

Trustworthy Connection to Other (Justice)

Trustworthy connection to others occurs when we recognize that we need one another to thrive. In our own identities, we recognize both the gifts we have to offer as well as our limitations, and we acknowledge the gifts and limitations of others. We approach relationships with a sense of hospitality, seeing each person as equal guest and host, and we each are invited to bring the fullness of our own humanity to the relationship. When any person is made to believe they have nothing to offer and are not invited to bring the fullness of themselves to the relationship, a relational skew develops and creates a situation ripe for injustice. The work of restoring justice means to seek accountability, a sense of order, and equity between people because we recognize that each person has value and worth that is no greater or no less than our own. And from a family systems perspective, all are affected when one is affected—remember the example of the mobile.

The pursuit of justice is not simply about abiding by the law, procedures, and policies, which themselves can be askew. Rather, the pursuit of restoring justice is a relational endeavor based on the truth that all are created in God’s image, intended to be seen and known rightly. Justice ought to cause us to account for what needs to be righted, recognize where there is relational and systemic imbalance, and create opportunities for that skew to be restored back to balance.

Our eyes will not be keen to see the skew if we are not connected to one another. And the physical, psychological, political, social, and spiritual distance that exists between people, particularly these days, makes it easy to be passively complicit with unjust systems. But it is in the context of relationships with others who do not share proximity of physical space and life experiences that our understanding about justice is expanded and our imagination for what ought to be is stimulated. Connection to others who are both like us and different from us makes it challenging to turn away when we witness violations of justice committed against them. The restoration of justice is tied to restored connection with others.

Conclusion: The First and Greatest Commandment for Restoring Justice

The parts of the triad of identity (love), agency (power), and trustworthy connection to others (justice) are interrelated and are meant to exist in concert with one another. Although there are occasions when more attention and emphasis is necessarily placed on one part, the absence of any one of the parts creates a relational skew that works against meaningful and healthy connection to self and others. The realities of social context, the level of emotional and social consciousness, personal disposition, and extraordinary life circumstances are important considerations in understanding both the potential as well as the limitations of one’s identity, agency, and trustworthy connection to others. But it is otherwise impossible to pursue the work of restoring justice without all three parts. The work of restoring justice has the greatest potential to be accomplished in relational spaces where a person’s or a group’s identity is rooted in love and true belongingness, where they have a healthy sense of agency and use of voice, as well as an ability to seek trustworthy connection to others.

Written By

Miyoung Yoon Hammer is associate professor of marriage and family therapy and chair of the Department of Marriage and Family. Prior to joining the Fuller faculty, she worked as a medical family therapist (MedFT), providing therapy for patients and their families in hospital, outpatient, and private practice settings. In addition to her MedFT focus, her research interests involve the practitioner’s experience and perspective. She addresses this self-of-the-therapist process in her classes, encouraging students to explore their contexts to better understand themselves and to develop an awareness of how their own family and faith narratives inform their clinical work. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in California and Illinois.

The work of restoring justice takes on many forms, and the one that I have been involved in for the past 25 years occurs in the relational microcosm of the therapy room. As a marriage and family therapist (MFT), I have worked in hospitals, outpatient community and nonprofit agencies, university clinics, private practices, church counseling centers, and academic training sites. Although the clinical contexts have varied, the focus of the work has remained the same: restore clients’ connection to themselves and their connection to others.

These interrelated goals of restoring intrapersonal and interpersonal connections are essential in any kind of restorative work where the natural outcome of these connections is the experience of seeing others and being seen by others. Being seen is the starting point of being known and belonging, and if we are to take seriously the claim that every person bears the image of God, then we ought to see, perceive, and treat ourselves and others in alignment with this claim. And we also acknowledge that the contrary is true. When we are disconnected from our own humanity and to the humanity of others, we are at a greater risk of disregarding (at best) or violating (at worst) ourselves and one another. Thus, restoring connection to self and to others directly ties into the work of restoring justice, because when we see the worth and value of each person as God’s creation, then we desire our relationships and our communities to congruently reflect that truth.

An outcome of a more congruent and consolidated sense of identity and relationships is the ability to see oneself rightly in the context of a relational system in which love, identity, accountability, and safety are valued. It is in this relational space that justice can be restored.

Throughout Scripture, God’s work of restoring justice begins with the pursuit of a person or a people whose life or lives betrayed the truth of the identity and purpose God intended for them. Eventually, God restores their identities and leads them to challenge the existing systems of injustice around them. However, God first meets them in moments of vulnerability and demonstrates an intimate connection to their hearts. Consider Moses in the desert, Zacchaeus in the tree, Mary Magdalene in the town square, and Jesus’ disciples in the upper room. God pursues them by first declaring, in word and action, that he sees them and knows them. Without disregarding their fears, failures, and doubts, God acknowledges who they are, takes account of their limitations and vulnerabilities, restores their identities as his own, and calls them to live more fully into whom he created them to be.

A restored identity is one that has been made right with God, with oneself, and with the community. And it is from restored identities that individuals, families, and communities can begin to effect change toward restored systems of justice.

A Family Systems Perspective: Expanding the Lens for Restoring Justice

As an MFT, the locus of my work is in the therapy room with individuals, couples, and families who are courageously seeking restoration by changing, disrupting, and healing from intergenerational patterns of pain. However, although I primarily work in the microcosm of the therapy room, the family systems perspective orients me to see my clients as individuals, couples, and families who are embedded in larger macro systems that either serve as a resource for resiliency and healing or contribute to the dysfunction within the micro relational system.

The family systems perspective is an ecosystemic lens and is one of the hallmarks of the MFT field. It is the primary framework through which MFTs conceptualize and approach our clinical work. The image of a mobile provides a helpful depiction of family systems, as every piece, connected by wire, moves when one piece is touched. Like the individual parts of a mobile, the whole family system is impacted by the actions of each member, whether this occurs in present time or over the course of generations. Clients and their presenting problems are situated within the context of their past and present social systems (particularly their family systems). Although each individual is ultimately responsible for the attitudes, assumptions, choices, and behaviors that they live out, it is important to understand the ways that their assumptions and behaviors are expressions of the social systems from where they came and in which they are currently embedded.

Over the course of my career, the family systems perspective has impacted me both professionally and personally, as it informs my understanding of myself, others, relationships, and institutions and is the lens through which I continuously make meaning of my experiences in the world. For example, I have been on a journey of discovery about how my assumptions, my imagination, and my sensibilities as an Asian American woman and therapist are embedded in macro social, political, and historical dynamics as well as micro relational systems within my community and the history of my family. These explorations have had profound implications for me in my identity and my voice in the multiple social contexts in which I live. I possess the same multifaceted identity and the same potential to use my voice wherever I go, but depending on the context, I am either seen or invisible, audible or muted. I pay attention to the social context while I wrestle with the reality that my voice is not always welcome simply as a result of who I am. I have developed the skill of multivocality, knowing that the skill of contextualizing my voice is a byproduct of my bicultural agility, but at times I still wonder if I compromise the fidelity of my voice in order to be heard in spaces where I am otherwise muted. I am in constant interaction with my social and physical environment, but because of my experiences of marginalization, I am more aware of the tensions and dynamics of those interactions. The family systems perspective has provided both the language and the maps for me to make sense of my experiences.

As the family systems perspective conceptually and practically situates the individual, couple, and family within their social context, MFTs are trained to work with multiple members of those systems in the therapy room. Working with multiple people in the therapy room is a challenging but highly effective way to work directly with the relational system, where the pain exists and where healing can be sustained, because relationships are the crucibles for change. Meaningful and sustained change occurs in relational spaces and in the context of relationships—not in the isolation of an individual. If we are to seek meaningful change in ourselves and our relationships, then understanding the anatomy of relationships is a good place to begin.

Anatomy of Relationships: A Locus of Change for Restoring Justice

The late philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich posited that love, power, and justice are fundamental constructs of all human relationships and social systems. In his book Love, Power, and Justice, Tillich wrote about the three interrelated principles and how, together, they function to inform how we are to relate to one another and to God.1 Like the persons of the Holy Trinity, love, power, and justice are distinct from one another while also interrelated, as the purpose and the effect of love, power, and justice are most fully realized when they exist in concert with one another. Drawing from Tillich’s trifecta—which provides a comprehensive framework for relational and spiritual connection—I would suggest that there are three corresponding constructs in family therapy that are salient in the anatomy of relationships: identity (love), agency (power), and trustworthy connection to other (justice).

Identity is what we bring into relationships. Trustworthy connection is how we build and sustain relationships. And agency is the responsibility and accountability we hold within relationships.

As a Restoration Therapy therapist, my clinical work focuses first on helping clients gain insight about the pain they bear due to violations of identity and trustworthiness they have experienced, and then we focus on identifying a new narrative based on restored truths about identity and trustworthiness that promote healthy, relational connection to self and to others.2 The process of change builds on the insights gained. Eventually, clients develop a consciousness about the choice they have to either live reactively out of their pain or live with agency from their restored truths. These three constructs of identity, agency, and trustworthy connections are key components of all relationships and will be further explored below.

Identity (Love)

Identity is the internalized sense and externalized expression of an individual’s being. In individualistic cultures, this is conceptualized as the uniqueness of an individual apart from the larger group. In collectivistic cultures the identity is less about the uniqueness of the individual and more about an extension of the group. Regardless of cultural context, identity is integral to relationships as it is part of what we have to offer and receive when relating to one another.

As a Restoration Therapy therapist, I work with the assumption that identity is the primary emotion that is formed through the multidimensional expressions of agape, phileo, and eros love. Love is the conduit through which we receive messages that we have value and worth, that we belong and know to whom we belong, and that we are not alone. We know we have value. We perceive the ways each of us are unique, and in the uniqueness of our identities we belong to one another. We do not exist in isolation. Love forms the most fundamental aspect of our identities as being beloved and extends far deeper than the sentimentality of charity and affection.

Psychological and relational pain is a corollary of identity violations, where love was withheld, skewed, and manipulated during critical moments within formative relationships. When we receive the painful messages and internalize the lies that we are not good enough, that we are damaged goods, that we are alone, or that we are inherently unlovable, we are reactive in our coping and become further removed from a core identity that is rooted in truth and love. We need truth-speakers to send new and alternative messages of love and to help restore our identities to who God intended for us to be as his beloved creation, made in God’s image.

Agency (Power)

Power is present in all relationships, and two elements of power that are important to consider are agency and privilege. Agency is the belief that we possess the ability and resources (internal and/or external) to affect change and are able to employ those abilities and resources toward action or intentional restraint from action. Agency is related to identity, as our sense of agency is birthed out of the value we have in ourselves and the family or community in which we belong. When we know that we are not alone and that we have something to offer, we can stand rooted in that truth and be emboldened to be changemakers for the good of ourselves and others. Our agency as Christians is rooted in the narrative of faithfulness of those who have gone before us, reminding us from where we came and to whom we belong. In Hebrews 11 and 12, we read God’s promise that we are surrounded by a faithful cloud of witnesses of those who went before us, of those upon whose shoulders we stand:

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Heb 11:39–12:2)

Agency and power are not one and the same however. It is possible to be in a position of power but not have agency. I would suggest that when power and authority is intentionally used to effect change or maintain a status quo that marginalizes, exploits, or in any way diminishes a person’s or a community’s identity as God’s creation, the person with the power lacks agency and is instead acting out of reactivity and dysregulated emotions. I believe that the understanding of agency as described above is correct, but it is incomplete because agency is not simply the ability to act. I would add: “Agency is the belief that we possess the ability and resources (internal and/or external) to effect change that promotes human thriving and are able to employ those abilities and resources toward action or intentional restraint from action.” Agency leads to affecting change that fosters healthy connection, relational resilience, and mutuality. Simply having the power or the resources to cause change may be an act of control or authority, but it is not necessarily agency if the person is being reactive. Everyone has the potential for agency, regardless of their position of power or powerlessness, because agency is tied to identity and not to position. 

We cannot discuss power without also considering privilege. Where agency is more closely tied to identity, privilege is about access to resources, both earned and unearned. The resources may be internal, such as knowledge, motivation, and temperament, or they may be external, such as social support, employment, and financial stability. Dominique DuBois Gilliard’s book Subversive Witness: Scripture’s Call to Leverage Privilege provides good examples of the use of privilege to meaningfully counter injustice.3 He illuminates characters throughout Scripture who did not conform to the patterns of the world around them but instead, by the power of the Holy Spirit, leveraged the privilege they had to call out systems of injustice and take action to bring about change. The story of saints such as Moses, Esther, Paul, and Silas are retold in a new way, compelling the reader to consider this work of justice not as a secular social agenda but rather as an expression of the Christian’s commitment to restore God’s kingdom today, here and now.

Trustworthy Connection to Other (Justice)

Trustworthy connection to others occurs when we recognize that we need one another to thrive. In our own identities, we recognize both the gifts we have to offer as well as our limitations, and we acknowledge the gifts and limitations of others. We approach relationships with a sense of hospitality, seeing each person as equal guest and host, and we each are invited to bring the fullness of our own humanity to the relationship. When any person is made to believe they have nothing to offer and are not invited to bring the fullness of themselves to the relationship, a relational skew develops and creates a situation ripe for injustice. The work of restoring justice means to seek accountability, a sense of order, and equity between people because we recognize that each person has value and worth that is no greater or no less than our own. And from a family systems perspective, all are affected when one is affected—remember the example of the mobile.

The pursuit of justice is not simply about abiding by the law, procedures, and policies, which themselves can be askew. Rather, the pursuit of restoring justice is a relational endeavor based on the truth that all are created in God’s image, intended to be seen and known rightly. Justice ought to cause us to account for what needs to be righted, recognize where there is relational and systemic imbalance, and create opportunities for that skew to be restored back to balance.

Our eyes will not be keen to see the skew if we are not connected to one another. And the physical, psychological, political, social, and spiritual distance that exists between people, particularly these days, makes it easy to be passively complicit with unjust systems. But it is in the context of relationships with others who do not share proximity of physical space and life experiences that our understanding about justice is expanded and our imagination for what ought to be is stimulated. Connection to others who are both like us and different from us makes it challenging to turn away when we witness violations of justice committed against them. The restoration of justice is tied to restored connection with others.

Conclusion: The First and Greatest Commandment for Restoring Justice

The parts of the triad of identity (love), agency (power), and trustworthy connection to others (justice) are interrelated and are meant to exist in concert with one another. Although there are occasions when more attention and emphasis is necessarily placed on one part, the absence of any one of the parts creates a relational skew that works against meaningful and healthy connection to self and others. The realities of social context, the level of emotional and social consciousness, personal disposition, and extraordinary life circumstances are important considerations in understanding both the potential as well as the limitations of one’s identity, agency, and trustworthy connection to others. But it is otherwise impossible to pursue the work of restoring justice without all three parts. The work of restoring justice has the greatest potential to be accomplished in relational spaces where a person’s or a group’s identity is rooted in love and true belongingness, where they have a healthy sense of agency and use of voice, as well as an ability to seek trustworthy connection to others.

Miyoung Yoon Hammer

Miyoung Yoon Hammer is associate professor of marriage and family therapy and chair of the Department of Marriage and Family. Prior to joining the Fuller faculty, she worked as a medical family therapist (MedFT), providing therapy for patients and their families in hospital, outpatient, and private practice settings. In addition to her MedFT focus, her research interests involve the practitioner’s experience and perspective. She addresses this self-of-the-therapist process in her classes, encouraging students to explore their contexts to better understand themselves and to develop an awareness of how their own family and faith narratives inform their clinical work. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in California and Illinois.

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Shep Crawford, founder and pastor of The Experience Christian Ministries, urges pastors to listen deeply and intentionally as they strive to minister in a changing world.