Support groups are for people to meet together to discuss their experiences, share helpful insights and offer one another emotional and prayer support. In my last blog, I shared some stories of how I felt walking in the door of Where Grace Abounds for the first time. It was a bit unnerving. But by pressing through my fears and coming regularly it became a place for myself and others to thrive. There are many benefits to attending a support group, which you can read here.
But what happens when you hit an emotional wall or past painful experiences rear their ugly faces? It’s easy to become just another support group causality and abandon the healing work God would like to do. What could be some useful tips that will help someone return again and again when things get difficult or painful?
Tips for Success
Former Where Grace Abounds staff member, Karen Wood, wrote these five “tips” to give our group members encouragement and endurance when the healing road gets bumpy.
Number One: Stick around
Where Grace Abounds works to provide an environment in which honest sharing and mutual support are valued. By sticking around you can become more self-aware, move into emotionally vulnerable relationships, and wrestle with honest relating with God. You can grow in your ability to love God, neighbor and self in deeper and more authentic ways. The paths on which God leads us are highly individual. However, it is possible to lengthen or shorten the time it takes to come to grips with things in our lives. In some cases, people can short circuit their healing process by leaving the support of a group prematurely. Some possible reasons could be:
- Some people are so used to working on things in their own strength that they have difficulty being vulnerable with other people.
- People choose to remain committed to sexualizing their needs and refuse to let God show them the underlying issues.
- Some do not connect to their satisfaction and leave the support group.
Number Two: Wrestle Through
The process of healing and growth does not happen overnight. It takes endurance. The process of wrestling through to greater emotional, psychological; and spiritual relating is messy, confusing and scary. Expect it to be–and hang in there. Where Grace Abounds desires to come alongside as you wrestle through issues. We do this by offering a variety of services and community. You can make an appointment with the staff when you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed. WGA can also suggest professional counseling services. The combination of working with a good counselor and being part of support group can speed up the process. The bottom line is the establishing of our hearts in Christ and learning to support each other as Christ’s body.
Number Three: Open Up
How do we support each other? The beginning of this process is simply to acknowledge where we are. The environment on Thursday nights is designed to encourage group members to share what is really going on with them. Connection and being known is the beginning of the healing process. After you’ve attended Thursdays for a while, there are other groups available which allow people to press deeper into their issues and to support each other in stronger relationships.
Number Four: Practice
The relational environment at Where Grace Abounds gives you an opportunity to experiment with new ways of relating and to practice relational skills. In many ways, WGA functions like a family. We are thrown together and asked to try and get along and grow up together. As you get to know a variety of people and spend time with them, you may find some with whom you share common interests. These may turn into friends. Intimacy with people may build over time. Take advantage of the environment to experiment and practice.
Number Five: Look up!
Where Grace Abounds is in the wrestling business. We desire to support group members as they come to grips with the reality of who they are and who God is. We desire to cooperate with God in wrestling through with you to God’s best for your life. Stick around. Wrestle through. Open up. Practice. Look up.
Where Grace Abounds offers healing opportunities through community and relationships in our weekly support group. For more information on the ReSOULutions series check here.
A staff member since June of 1992, Scott is a key player in the WGA discipleship ministry. He plans, organizes, and implements every aspect of the Thursday night support group. In addition to public speaking, counseling group participants and training leaders, Scott maintains personal contact with many group members and it is to Scott’s credit that many group members feel personally welcomed, cared for and loved.
Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.
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If you enjoy reading WGA’s blogs and would like to show your support, please consider making a donation. Where Grace Abounds is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The majority of services, including support groups and discipleship counseling, are provided free of charge. Your financial gifts help to cover the costs associated with offering a free program to those who seek WGA’s services.