I glanced at each of the small video screens compiled on my laptop and the faces that filled each one. None of us looked alike. I was the only one who had served overseas in Taiwan. My health circumstances were vastly different than these women as well. Our life stages varied quite a bit. I didn’t really have a lot of similarities with the women in my Connection Group at all.
But we had re-entered our passport country after serving abroad. I had that in common.
When I signed up for a Connection Group, I wasn’t sure how things would work. Would it be helpful and encouraging? Would it be awkward? Would I be glad I had joined this group? Craving some authentic connection and figuring it was worth a try, I whispered a prayer, filled out my info and hit submit.
At my first Connection Group meeting with the other ladies I had to actively remember to close my gaping mouth. I felt tears gathering in the corners of my eyes. For almost seven years, I had served abroad, and it had been rare to find another soul who really knew the joys, the struggles, the challenges of that life and all it entailed. I had tried talking to some people about it – the nitty gritty details of my overseas life – but I could see that although people were kind and tried to understand, they didn’t really “get it”. I wanted to meet people who would “get it” and be able to listen and offer gracious, truth filled words in response to what I shared.
These women really “got me”. They didn’t have to pretend by nodding their heads and trying to grasp what I was saying. They actually had experienced it too. They knew. There’s something so special and life-giving to be free to say how things really are – amazing or really tough – and know that the other women listening can relate. Time after time, week after week, I found myself thinking, “Oh wow, you feel that way too?!” I couldn’t believe this incredible gift I had been given.
It felt like God was whispering to my heart, “Daughter, you’re not alone. You are so loved. You are valued. This is a time to be real with these women. A time to learn together, to grow together. Treasure this season because it’s going to help you to lean in closer to Me, too.”
Each time we met, it felt like a breath of fresh air. I was still sifting through a lot of changes and challenges after having moved back to my passport country. I was still in and out of the hospital as my body fought various things. I still had days I felt homesick for Taiwan and my friends and church there. But in each of those situations, I had this handful of women who walked it alongside me. We cried over the hard stuff and laughed over the hilarious stories and prayed through it all.
Maybe we will never meet face-to-face. Maybe we will never get the chance to embrace in person. Even so, I am grateful that God gave me those weeks with my Connection Group. It gave me a space where we could really share freely and listen well to each other. In my heart, that’s a gift that no amount of money can be attached to!
Gifts like that are given from my faithful Heavenly Father who knows what I need, when I need it. And it reminds me how God works things for His glory and His kingdom, whether that’s abroad or my passport country.
Want to learn more about Connection Groups? Check out this page on the blog!
Registration for the spring session of Connection Groups will open at 6:00 PM EST on Tuesday, March 10th! Want to be notified as we get closer to registration? Sign up HERE.