It was a small disaster, I admit.
The morning of my first small group gathering was approaching quickly. I had spent the summer praying for twelve moms I had never met, but who had signed up to join me in a small group Bible study. I was pretty desperate for some mommy friendships and I felt like the best way to accomplish that in this busy season of raising kids was to simply bite the bullet and invite them to a ten-week small group that I would both lead and host.
I was excited and nervous. Among us, we would have eight preschoolers and three babies joining our two hour gathering. I hired a babysitter from our church and went out of my way to make the group as accommodating as possible. All my ducks were in a row. The patio table was ready for us to gather around. Toys and playdough were ready for the kids inside the house. Name tags lined the front table of the entryway. The smell of muffins and coffee made for a welcoming atmosphere, I hoped.
And then the first moms began to arrive before the babysitter. I ushered them in, offering name tags before guiding them outside to the tables. Ten minutes in and moms and kids began to flood my small living room.
And still no babysitter.
I tried calling her. No answer. Panic began to set in. She was supposed to arrive at least ten minutes prior to the moms and now half an hour had passed. Here I was assuring the ladies that their kids would be well cared for and they were basically on their own! I needed to begin the study time but I had my hands full with toddlers! My husband, watching the ship sink, came to my rescue and offered to step in for the morning. I prayed the sitter would still show up and made my way, flustered and perspiring, outside.
I wanted to cry and we hadn’t even opened in prayer yet. As a planner and type A personality, I knew I was coming across as a freaked-out nervous wreck. Not exactly the first impression I wanted to make!
Eventually, we all had a chance to share a little bit about ourselves and dig into our Bibles together. I apologized profusely for the babysitter debacle (car trouble prevented her arrival) and prayed that someone, anyone, would return the following week!
And they did! In fact, we just finished our second year together! Even though that first gathering was less than smooth, and every week I felt the pressure of having my home clean and ready for guests, the fellowship and growth we experienced as women bonding together and growing spiritually was worth every bit of effort. Hebrews 10:24-25 describes our experience beautifully:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Over time, we would meet at different moms’ homes, or nearby parks. We had to overcome obstacles like finding babysitters, sick kids, and broken down cars—but we never neglected to meet together every week. We carpooled, took turns offering our homes, and signed up to bring kid snacks.
There were 10,000 reasons not to make the effort but we were so glad we did! Little did we know that over the next two years we would wade together and support one another through many hills and valleys:
Death of loved ones.
Behavior issues with kids.
Transitions to new schools.
Anger toward God.
Healing from childhood abuse.
There were plenty of great moments to celebrate too: job promotions, new babies, friendships formed among our children, and restored relationships. Here’s what a few of my friends had to say about these last two years together:
“Being in a small group study has changed my life! I have met other moms from my church in the last two years who I didn’t know before. I have gained friends to lean on and learn from. It has helped me to grow with Christ and be a better mom, especially in my attitude as a parent. So thankful to have met a mentor from this!!! Doing life together in Christ is the best way to do good!”—Jamie
“I am a new believer and had only been at my church for less than a year. I was paralyzed, lost, and going thru a horrific divorce when I signed up for our life group. My fears told me I wouldn’t fit in with the ladies and we wouldn’t be able to identify with each other. I knew nothing about Scripture, church, or Christianity. I was the only single mom and they all were married. That was the furthest thing from the truth. The ladies in my group embraced me immediately. This group literally saved my life. They showed me unconditional love I have never experienced in my life. They showed me what is was to be a passionate follower of Christ. They made it safe to share issues I would have never said out loud as a woman and a mother. We have shared our anger, fear, vulnerability, tears, humor, passion, and love. I have grown in my faith. I would not be the woman, friend, mother, sister, and Christ follower I am had I not joined our life group.” –Gwen
“It’s hard to express what a small group setting has meant to me, especially at the present moment of mourning. It has been a life line in the happiest and most painful of times. Our bond, trust, willingness to support no matter what is so powerful and it carries us through all of life’s challenges. We’re apart physically, but my small group is here, holding me. I wish everyone could have this in their life. It is essential.” –Jessica
When we step out of the boat, the ripple effect of community can result in a tidal wave of blessing.
In addition to small groups with ladies from church or local friends, one of the biggest contributors to my growth in Christ has been being a part of the No More Angry MOB Facebook group. With over 13,000 moms participating, we all feel a collective sisterhood, sharing our struggles and frustrations as mothers and our desire to respond to our anger triggers with gentle biblical responses instead of angry reactions.
We want to invite you to join us too! My co-author of Triggers, Wendy Speake, and I believe in the immense value of gathering together face-to-face and we want to encourage you to grab a friend or two (or twelve or twenty!) and meet in your home, a local park, or a room at your church or local coffee shop and join us for The MOB Society’s first official book study for the fall!
The Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses Study Guide, is available now! It’s broken down into manageable portions for busy parents. We also want to offer you support by leading you through the study for 31 days beginning September 12th! Join us online as we discuss the book and study guide together. We know you will be deeply encouraged!
Just click here and request to join the online book study! Meanwhile, we are praying for you too and looking forward to hearing your own testimony of transformation as you get plugged into community!
SHARE: Have you been a part of a small group or book study? What was the best part about meeting with others in this way?
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