My Small Group

I work at Stein Mart today, so I don't have a lot of time this morning to read and elaborate on my blog. But I did have some quick thoughts of my own I wanted to share. (If you read my blog, you know that "quick" is a pretty relative term for me...lol).

I am so thankful for my small group. If you guys are reading this, you just have no idea how much I appreciate all of you. You have all become such dear, cherished friends to me. I know you worry that I will feel stressed about having to cook or prepare because I've had so much going on lately. But I so look forward to your company.

As anyone close to me knows, I have really been having a tough time lately. Just different factors and things going on in my life that have been challenging emotionally. I'm an emotional person to begin with. I feel everything so deeply and often wish I did not have this "gift." The good side to being a sensitive, feeling person is that I think I'm usually sensitive to the feelings of others. I genuinely care for other people's feelings. And I am a walking, pulsing, bleeding heart of compassion. But the down side to being a sensitive, feeling person is that I'm more easily wounded and I feel things more intensely than the average person, I guess. I over-analyze everything I say and do. I scrutinize myself for mistakes and the wrong choice of words. I beat myself up for not saying things perfectly or for over-reacting to emotional triggers. And I tend to anticipate (maybe even imagine) being rejected (or dismissed) by others because of circumstances in my past that have created a lasting wound. Lately, I feel like such a cry-baby. It's not my tendency to just feel good about myself at all times. I'm pretty hard on myself when I feel like I've messed up or felt sorry for myself a bit too much. Sometimes I just want to shake myself out of the things I allow to take over my thoughts.

Anyway, I am not writing this to belabor all of my issues (of which I have many!). I just wanted to express how invaluable it is to have a small group that you spend time with regularly and can pour your heart out to without any fear of judgment. My small group comes over every Tuesday evening. We're reading "Respectable Sins" right now and sometimes we even get around to discussing the book. But a lot of times, we're just there for each other and we talk about whatever we need to talk about on any given week. Last night we talked a lot about Israel because Karen just got back from there with the church group. I can't wait to go and wish we could leave tomorrow. Except then I wouldn't be able to look forward to it a little longer. (I have always enjoyed the anticipation of something I'm looking forward to.)

Last night I started to share about anxiety and some things I felt like God had said to me about putting my hope and trust in Him and not in any specific outcomes. Fear of the unknown is one of the hardest things we have to deal with. It's so easy to project ourselves into all kinds of "worst case scenarios," many of which will never actually happen the way our minds project. So you mentally live out situations that you may never have to even experience. It's a way of trying to control things we can't control. Even though I'm fully aware I have no control, I feel like I'm trying to prepare myself for different things that might be hard to handle. But it's really just worry and fear taking control of ME. And every time I do that, I'm not trusting God.

Sharing my fears with my friends last night was so therapeutic for me. I felt so much better after having that time together. Although I woke up at 4:00 AM and couldn't go back to sleep for over an hour, I had no anxiety. I just laid there and thanked God for all my blessings and all the miraculous things He has already done in my life.

I feel good this morning. I feel like I've had an injection of calm. And it is such a welcome feeling.

I'm so thankful for every single person God has placed in my life. I have to say that I have never felt so loved and valued as I have in the last few years. And it seems that my circle of loving friends continues to grow and deepen. That is one of the richest blessings in life that God can give to us. I thought last night as we were all sitting around my kitchen table; these friends will be standing right beside me through anything I have to go through. I know I can depend on them when I need them, as I hope they know I will always be there for them. That is such a gift. I know I will never be alone because God is always with me. But one of the ways He is with me is through my closest friends and my extended church family.

I just feel so thankful this morning. And I wanted to express these thoughts. I told my friends last night how much I appreciate them. But words can't express what I feel inside. I am so blessed.

Comments

Karen said…
Shari -

You are such a dear friend and I really look at you as a blessing that God placed in my life and I am so thankful! His hand was at work when I ended up in your group at the women making a difference in marriage study we did at WOC!

I was thinking about our group today before I read your blog and I am so happy to be part of such a loving and caring and God-honoring group of friends! Even when my days are busy with so much going on, I always feel refreshed after our group meets. Part of it is just enjoying some girl-time, but part of it is that I really do feel the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding us in fellowship.

You know that we all love you - faults, quirks, tears, and all! Of course we all have a few faults, quirks, and tears too, so never feel like you need to apologize! Remember Psalms 139:14 - I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

You are just the way God made you and I wouldn't want you any other way!

I feel so much support and love from our group and I really treasure the time we get to spend together!

Love, Karen
Shari said…
Karen, it was so nice to come home and read your comment! Thank you for taking the time to respond to this post. I have thought about that first study we did at the church and the night several of you wound up in my group (merely because you were sitting in the same vicinity -- not because you had a choice), how God selected that group and how our friendships have grown. You probably had no idea how intimidated and inadequate I felt that night. I had never been asked to lead a small group discussion or to lead a prayer. It was scary for me. But I really wanted to grow and I knew I had to let God stretch me beyond my comfort zone in order for Him to use me in new and different ways.

I still feel inadequate, but I'm so thankful I didn't refuse that opportunity because it wasn't in my comfort zone. (I'm always glad when Allen says that there's something wrong if we feel adequate for the opportunities God gives us.)

You and Ricky are both such valued friends to us! I love the way our friendship has grown and deepened over time. You are such a blessing in my life, too.

Love you!
Shari