Registration for Spring Connection Groups will open in two days.
A year ago, I hit the point where I was done. The kind of done that says, “I have nothing left to give, so I think I will crawl into the nearest hole and sleep for a year.” Since I am not a bear and hibernation was not a viable option, I sat and ugly-cried for hours as I told God I couldn’t do it any more. I was empty. In my brokenness, I asked what more He was expecting of me.
The word He breathed into my soul was “receive.” He wasn’t demanding that I give more of what I did not have. I simply needed to rest, breathe, and wait as He brought my soul back to life.
I couldn’t continue in the situation I was in. The next months called for some dramatic change and transition. Through this entire season, I can not even begin to list everything I received from God physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He was restoring my soul.
Last Fall, I decided to sign up for one of the connection groups. I opted for the Facebook group mostly because I couldn’t commit to a set weekly meeting time, but I knew I wanted consistent connection. Having only a vague idea of what to expect, I jumped in with both feet.
I received a gift bigger than anything I would have asked from God. This group became the catalyst for a profound change in me. I was given a group of women to whom I could be authentic and accountable. Simply having to write a response to the question “How are you doing?” made me slow down enough to think of a genuine answer. The reflections and responses to the weekly themes and posts helped me articulate ways I was wanting to change as well as patterns I wanted to continue.
I was given a group of women who could celebrate with me as I hit new milestones. It was a season where I had been forced to scale back my commitments and was taking drastic measures in regards to self-care. My exercise routine went from non-existent to training for a half marathon. I started cooking regular meals that included vegetables. My laughter, joyfully authentic laughter, came back after over a year’s absence. The connection group didn’t provide the setting to make these changes. I had to do that on my own. The gift these women gave me was encouragement.
Somewhere during those weeks, the gift of friendship snuck up on me. I was provided with uplifting conversations with other women living all around the world. I had been feeling more isolated than I realized. Through community and connection, I gained friendship. Relationships where I can breathe deeply and receive life.
Receive has also been my One Word for 2016. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to receive. It is not passive or sitting back and doing nothing. I have needed to actively receive what God is wanting to give me. It takes vulnerability and honesty. It takes humbling myself and sharing real parts of my story. It means admitting I have needs.
I could have closed myself off. I could have chosen to hold back my heart, my mistakes, and even my joy. The connection group was not a magic pill or the solution to my problems. If I had looked at it that way, I surely would have walked away disappointed. It was not about some members giving and some members receiving. Rather, it was about all of us authentically showing up and letting God pour into us out of His abundance.
I want to challenge those of you planning to join one of the groups this spring. Come as you are and ask God to show you what you need. Ask him to meet that need and to give you the courage to receive it. This is the beauty of being a part of a connection group. It is not a solution. It is a catalyst. It provides a space for God to function within relationships and fulfill a wider variety of needs than we could imagine. We simply need to show up and receive.
Is God calling you to deeper community with other sojourners on this path called life?
Will you commit to praying this week about joining a connection group?