I know the Christian answer for this is that Jesus knows what you are going through and he’s been there before; and while that is true, that is not what I am writing about. I’m talking about those times when God places people in your life who can say “I know what you are going through. That happened to me too.”
You see, I have not done well at making friends or participating in groups of women. I always end up comparing myself to how I think these women are and then feeling like I never measure up. Women are great at coming across like Super Women who have it all figured out and I know that I am far from it.
I still have a few friends that I made growing up but to be perfectly honest we only see each other a few times a year and our phone calls and texts have been less and less. While we know each other’s pasts there is a lot that we don’t know about each other in the present or each other’s hopes for the future. And part of me misses having a friend or two who can do that.
A few years ago I started a women’s small group at my church with the goal of reaching wives about having a Godly marriage. My group didn’t end up like I thought, but in the end it was so much better. We have become a somewhat diverse group of women of all ages and different backgrounds. The past few weeks I have really been able to see the way God orchestrated our group to introduce the right women into each other’s lives.
In the group, which is has about 9 of us that show up each week, we have two women whose Christian husbands have left their families. One of them went through it years ago and her children have now grown and married, and the other is coming to grips with a divorce that was just finalized as her new baby passed the 6 month mark. I have watched as the younger woman has been in tears processing through her grief and what to do next and the other woman has been able to empathize with her and share advice and encouragement.
We have another woman who is 6 years into her second marriage because her first ended when her husband passed away. There is another woman who experienced the same thing years ago when her children were little. She is able to offer her advice and comfort and say “I know what you are going through”.
There are several others of us working through difficult marriage situations where we aren’t sure exactly what to do and when or how it will get better. But there is a comfort in knowing that we are not the only ones. While our circumstances might be different the emotions are the same.
We have celebrated with each other over good results on medical testing, expecting a new baby, the birth of a new grandchild, a good career move, an answer to prayer. We have shared in grief with each other over a lost child, infertility, depression, failed marriage, confusion of what the future holds, and how God fits into all of this and what His plan is for our lives.
I have been able to see how these women, who I would have compared myself to and felt like I didn’t measure up before, are just real people like me. We all have failures, success, hopes, dreams, disappointments, doubts, fears. Our hobbies are different, our ages are different, our pasts are different, but at our core we have many of the same struggles.
There is something so comforting about taking the risk in sharing something you think or feel or a fear you have and hearing a group of women say, “I know exactly what you mean.” We are not meant to do life alone. I might not be the best person to be sharing this, because I am still a HUGE work in progress, but I just want to encourage you if you feel lonely or like you are alone and no one knows what you are going through… pray and find a group to join or someone to talk to. God will bring the right people into your life to help you through the troubles and to enjoy the good times with.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10