So the church I have been attending pretty much since A. and I moved here to Colorado Springs offers various small groups to get involved in throughout the year. Most of the groups follow the ‘college semester’ type schedule – holding information sessions in September/January and kicking off soon after that. Small groups are a great way to get involved and help newcomers meet new people.
Previously, I had not joined any such group because I had felt I didn’t have enough time/we went on a lot of last minute trips/I was tired ALL the time because of my work schedule etc etc. Most were excuses I know. This past fall, I decided to just go for it and sign up. A. and I decided that Monday or Tuesday evenings would work best for us. So I mustered up the courage to attend GroupLink (the info session I just mentioned) and signed up for a women’s group meeting at a home less than ten minutes away from where I currently live AND it was on Monday evenings, about 6:30-8:30.
The women’s Captivating groups are not your typical ‘Bible Study’. There are chapters to read each week in the book by Stasi & John Eldridge along with questions to answer. Each time we met we watched (a very old and outdated) video highlighting important themes in the book/the women answered the questions Stasi asked and after wards we would have a discussion. Sometimes we wouldn’t have a lot to say; other times there was healing that needed to happen through talking something out from an incident in one of our pasts.
The book covers five main topics: A woman’s core desires, her deepest question, finding love from the true source of love, restoration and living from a free heart. We mostly focused on the three main core desires of a woman’s heart: to be romanced, to be rescued and to unveil her beauty.
We also had timelines. Each of us went through our timelines, or our stories. There were five separate sets of timelines (although we combined a few of them to save some time): Birth to 12, 13-22, 23-35, 35-50 and 50+ I think. You are welcome to share whatever you feel – most people told of events in their lives that had large impacts on them – good or bad. The point of writing out and sharing timelines is to recognize themes in your life. Once a theme is seen, steps can be taken to grow or change it.
Everything that is shared within the group is confidential and so I will not be breaking that here in this space. I may tell you a little about my own timeline in later posts – I’m going to just sit on that thought for a while. Events in the past are personal – I am not even sure my husband knows everything I’ve written on the timeline. And that’s okay. One thing that I really liked about sharing our stories is that it allows the women in the group (who quickly become friends) to peek into your life and see how your past has shaped you into the person you are today.
I must admit though, I was a bit skeptical about this book. I had read it in college, while attending a small liberal arts Christian college, like it was a requirement – or at least that’s how I felt it to be at the time.I didn’t really ‘get’ anything out of it <gasp> when I first read it (don’t tell anybody!) and coming into this group I
sort of definitely dreaded reading the chapters. So I didn’t for this first couple of weeks AND then I realized that if I wanted to really enjoy this group and gain something from meeting every week for 6 months (which, by the way, a typical group is 5-6 people and runs 14 weeks. Our group was 11 people to include the two leaders and ran from late September until this past Monday, March 7th) then I had to get reading. So I went back and read the chapters, answered the questions like a good group attendee, went to almost every meeting and now it is over.
My thoughts on the group/book now that it is over:
I liked the small[ish] group setting. I liked meeting in someone’s home every week and eating treats everyone brought. I liked meeting new people – women of all ages from all walks of life. I had hoped to make a few friends – and while I don’t feel as though I am walking away with a couple new ‘hey-let’s-go-hiking-or-go-get-a-coffee’ type friends, I am glad to at least know a few more friendly faces at church. Those types of friendships may take time (case in point: I met a woman two falls ago on a women’s retreat put on by the church and it took us over a year to actually get together outside of church. We only really go on walks and drink coffee together but we try to do it at least once monthly).
Am I more trusting? Not really. I still struggle with the falseness of other people. For example, when someone says ‘hey how are you?’ do they really mean it? Or are they just saying it to be polite? If they are just doing the socially polite thing and I suddenly burst out crying – how are they going to handle that? How would YOU handle it? So I don’t tell many people things. I’m sure someone reading this can relate.
Would I do this again? Probably not as a participant. I know some women who do this every season but I don’t really feel the urge to share my life’s story with a bajillion other people. Okay, so it’s not a bajillion. I don’t even know if that is a word. I am contemplating co-leading a small group sometime in the not-so-near future but there are no definite plans as of yet. Just a thought rolling around in the back of my mind.
On the flip side, there is a book/group for any men in your life called Wild at Heart by John Elderidge. And it is set up similarly. I am thinking reading this book as well to try to understand a little more about the men in my life – especially my husband. Maybe this will end in some good discussions?