It’s been almost a month since I turned on my laptop. I couldn’t even find the charger. When I finally turned it on, my last writing session popped on the screen:
“Anna never took the time to just sit. Now that her husband and children were on their way to their evening of fun, she sat purposefully on her black wicker couch on the deck. Sunset set the sky on fire with shades of orange and yellow, hues of red and pink. With deep satisfaction, she drew a breath in, held it, and cast it out. A fire is exactly what she needed to burn the remains of the last three years.”
There’s a lot of truth mingled in that fiction.
Every other Wednesday this summer, a dozen or so ladies gather at my church, go through a chapter of my book Chosen for More, and chat about our lives. A dear friend of mine said something at the first meeting that has been brought up again and again. The things that deeply hurt and affect me may seem trivial to you. What you easily brush off may emotionally cripple me, while the things I brush off may wreak havoc on you. Our unique life experiences affect the way things affect us. We all come to the table carrying something; and often, very often, no one knows the depth of the hurt we carry.
It’s not uncommon in our little women’s Bible study to see eyes fighting back tears. Or sometimes someone might be taking the study in but remaining quiet as the chaos and/or hurt in her life five minutes before stepping into the church left her mute. And I, their leader, fight off demons, go to war with my sinful nature, and try to fend off the world for 45 minutes to lead them well.
We come to God’s house broken, hurting, and diseased to sit with God’s people around God’s Word. There’s always laughter. Always encouragement. Always more to pray about when we leave than when we came. But we go away longing for the next time we can sit together, sift through the Word together, pray together.
The early Christian church knew the value of getting together this way. Acts chapter 2 tells us: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (verses 42,46,47).
If you aren’t part of a small group Bible study, you’ve yet to experience the comradery. Besides the women’s Bible study at church that I’m part of, my husband and I are part of a small group that’s met at a couple’s home for years. They’ve become dear brothers and sisters in Christ. We meet nine months a year, but we text our prayer requests all year long. We may only see each other for three to four minutes between services, but that has often been enough for one of the members of the group to give me valuable advice or help me see something in a way I hadn’t.
If your heart is hurting, that’s my best advice. Join with other believers and you’ll find friends, that in time, you will trust to help carry your hurt as they pray for you and encourage you, advise and guide you.
“Anna knew this would pass. The fire would leave her stronger and very different than she had been three years prior. The sunset held a promise. Morning would come and dawn would bring a chance to start over. Again.”
Amber Albee Swenson is a writer, speaker, and blogger. Her husband and four children keep life exciting and give her lots to write and pray about. Mother, wife, and author are treasured positions, but child of God is her identity.
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