Connection Groups registration is now OPEN! Looking to meet and interact with other women? Now is your chance, with Skype , Facebook, Facebook Live Chat, and Writing groups, you can find one that is just right for you. While many are for “anyone on the field,” there are also groups for moms with adopted children, moms of children with special needs, those returning home, those in re-entry, moms of young children, wives who are struggling while their husbands are thriving, those on furlough . . . and lots more! Register here and finding the connection you’ve been needing.
A few years ago a lot of changes occurred in my life. While I was having some very difficult relationship disappointments, my fellow cross-cultural workers were getting ready to move to other cities or back to their hometowns. It seemed as if it would just be me left alone in my city.
Around that time, I stumbled across some websites for women overseas, including Velvet Ashes. Finding these online communities was so encouraging. I had been overseas for about six years or so at that point, but I had never realized what great resources were available until that time. I eagerly poured through article after article, thrilled to come across things that were so relevant and familiar. It was the start of a very special time of growth for me as God used different articles to speak to my heart and draw me closer to Him. In addition to enjoying such a treasure trove of articles, I was excited to find out about Connection Groups and a few months later joined for the first time.
Being a part of a Connection Group was different than I expected initially. I thought somehow because of us all being cross-cultural women, we’d have an instantaneous bond and would become fast friends. But, just like in real life, we were a mix of people with different interests, personalities, and schedules. I went into Connection Groups thinking that everyone would be super active and discuss topics in-depth together.
In reality, whether it was due to busyness, tiredness, less interest, or simply other things ranking higher on the priority scale, we didn’t necessarily equally devote ourselves to the group. Some of the ladies were very committed and involved in the group, while others kind of came and went. Some replied to their fellow group members’ answers, whereas some simply answered the questions for the week.
Through this, God taught a big lesson for me about my expectations of others.
He showed me how I tend to look at what I don’t have or how my expectations aren’t met. Instead of being thankful for the fellowship and encouragement that comes with having my fellow cross-cultural workers around, I can get frustrated when they seem to have a different vision than I thought we shared, or when we don’t work together as much as I thought we would. I start dwelling on how they aren’t living up to my expectations, and I forget about the blessing of having them in my life at all.
I also forget about the opportunity I have to serve them and help them in their lives.
God began to remind me about the blessing that comes from having this chance to get to know a group of ladies in similar situations and having those “me, too!” moments when I can identify with someone else’s experiences. So easily I forget about the encouragement of hearing about the other ladies’ lives – what they are doing, learning, and struggling with. I also easily forget about how I have this opportunity not only to be blessed by this Connection Group, but also to be a blessing. It’s so easy to focus on getting my relational needs met and to forget about the opportunity to reach out to the other women in the group:
Women who are in similar situations as I am in, with similar struggles and frustrations.
Women who might not have fellow cross-cultural workers nearby to connect with.
Women who might be new on the field and are dealing with adjusting to a new way of life.
Women who might be lonely and wanting someone who can understand what they’re dealing with.
We all have such a wonderful opportunity in Connection Groups, both to serve and be served as we offer encouragement, share from our experiences, offer helpful ideas or advice, and simply be there for each other.
What lessons has God taught you through Connection Groups? How have you been blessed through the ladies in your Connection Group? How have or can you be a blessing to the ladies in your Connection Group?