A new support group started on Thursday morning. The group is very small - the smallest one yet. I worried a little about that in the week leading up to our start. I'd occasionally get the impulse to take matters into my own hands in an attempt to increase enrollment, but I know that placing women in this group is God's job. These are the women He intended for this group, at this time. We're not talking about numbers, but lives. The lives of three women, three husbands, seven children, and countless extended family, friends, and others.
Another thing that concerned me a little is that this is the first time we've had our group at a time when other groups are meeting. In the past, we've enjoyed a great deal of "privacy" - we could easily come and go without being seen. That is not the case this semester. I wanted to shield my small group from the thought that I knew would run through their minds... "Everyone knows I'm here for the sexual abuse support group". I'd wanted to give them a heads-up, prepare them for this entrance, but God kept quieting me; asking me to allow Him to be their shelter on their walk in.
I wasn't quite sure how our meeting was going to go on Thursday. There were two obvious issues to address - fewer group members and 40 other women that will see us come and go every week. What would I say? How would our meeting run? These questions remained unanswered when I arrived that morning.
As our small group settled into our room, I got up and closed the door. As I was walking back to the table, I opened my mouth and I'm pretty sure God's words just started rushing out! I confessed my own insecurities about "being found out", my own shame and embarrassment -- stuff I wrestled with as recently as two weeks ago! We listened to God's truth. We are not to blame. We are not guilty. Someone committed a crime against us. We are not "damaged" or "unworthy". We have nothing to be ashamed of. We discussed the issue of this being a small group -- not having the luxury of hiding behind eight other group members when you don't feel like talking. We talked through these "elephants in the room", and I think we're all on the same page and ready to move ahead with group life. I hadn't planned to say any of these things... God truly showed up in a huge way that morning, paving the way for honest discussion so that His comfort could descend upon our hearts.
Throughout the remainder of that day, I thought about our meeting and was overjoyed with how things went. Just showing up, walking through the crowd of women, fighting through the impulse to shame and humiliate ourselves...those were HUGE steps towards recovery! I am so proud of these women for taking those steps.
With each group I lead, I get many of those same feelings I did the first time I held each of my children. There's an overwhelming love, care, compassion and relentless pursuit of the truth and righteousness for every one of these women. I will go the distance to help them come to know and cling to the truth. I am immeasurably proud of and inspired by them! It takes such courage, faith and hope to walk this journey into recovery. These women are amazing. It is my honor to know them and play even the smallest part in guiding them toward the promises of our Heavenly Father.
As always, I invite you to pray for this group of women. God has done amazing things through the women who have come through previous groups...and those women were carried through recovery by prayer! I have no doubt that He is up to more miraculous healing change with this new group. God is so good...as are our friends who are faithful to pray for us.
"In your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.
God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the Lord?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
God arms me with strength,
and he makes my way perfect.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights."