So, I’ve gotta say, one of the most wonderful and freaky things that has ever happened to me in my life, (Seriously. No drama, no exaggeration.) was the fellowship I experienced at the retreat.
It started at the first breakout session. I just kept staring at our speakers, one in particular, SURE that I knew her. It wasn’t just her face. I knew her voice, her mannerisms, etc. But her name didn’t ring any bells and neither did her story. I dismissed it thinking, She must just have one of those familiar faces.
Then we were assigned seating for dinner. I got that SAME feeling with two ladies in particular at our table. I started asking, Where are you from? Where did you go to school?etc. It was SO uncanny. Still, no answers of how I knew them. Even the Friday keynote speaker was familiar. How did I know her? No idea!
After the first main session was done, we were given a list of sixteen categories. We would break into small groups based on what situation we most identified with. For example, there was a “large family” group, a “waiting for an international adoption” group, etc. The group I logistically fit into was the “Adopted through Foster Care, Children currently ages 5+”, but there was this other group that popped out at me and it simply said something to the effect of, “If YOU, Mom, have experienced loss in this foster or adoption process,” this group is for you. I knew in my heart that this was the group I needed to go to. But I was ashamed. I did not want to look like a dramatic baby. I hadn’t experienced a death. My foster daughter was supposedly safe and where she should be. Was I seriously going to go to that group when there was a perfectly logical one for me to go to? But the Lord urged me to swallow my pride and allow Him to heal me.
It was a very small group. Out of 188 moms, only four of us joined this group, but if I thought that the ladies were familiar before, it was NOTHING compared to this group. I KNEW THESE WOMEN. I knew their faces, I even knew one name, but had no idea how. As we shared our stories, we wept, we nodded, we gathered prayer requests and it felt like the Lord was pouring balm on my broken heart. I knew then that these women would be my friends long after this conference was over.
The familiarity continued throughout the weekend and other moms said they knew exactly what I meant.
On Sunday morning, as I was sitting beside my new friend, Andrea, I asked her if she knew what I meant (honestly, I was starting to feel a little crazy), and she said she had similar experiences all weekend. She concluded, “I think it’s just that the Jesus in me recognizes the Jesus in you.” Such excitement overwhelmed me at that thought. This is what Heaven is going to be like!
Then the words of the song came to be, “What a fellowship, what a joy divine…” as a description for this weekend. I allowed my brain to complete the lyrics, “Leaning on the everlasting arms.”
At first, I thought, Oh, I guess that’s the wrong song to describe this weekend. But then I thought, NO, it’s the perfect song to describe this weekend! What better fellowship is there than when we lean on the Lord together by praying for one another and sharing our hearts. When we come to Him in our weakness, with a perfect heart toward Him, He can show His arm strong. (2 Chron. 16:9, 2 Cor. 12:9) We were all in different stages this weekend and some were able to say, “I’ve been there and it gets better,” and “The Lord has been so faithful during this time.”
I guess I’m sharing this to give you hope and encourage you to step out. The Lord wants us to bond with His saints. He wants us to lift one another up, encourage one another and bear one another’s burdens. If you are a person who is fearful of sharing for whatever reason, be it that the pain is too deep, or no one will understand, or you have a fear of opening up, or maybe you are ashamed of something, I’ll just say this. I get it. I’ve been there. But when the people of God connect in a meaningful way while seeking Him, your heart will be safe. As you talk to a Sister in Christ, your heart will know her heart. There are no strangers in the family of God. It’s a beautiful and powerful miracle.
We, as foster and adoptive parents, especially need to grasp a hold of this concept. As much as the Lord wants us to bond with His saints, He wants us to bond with our children. If we struggle to bond in a wonderful Family such as this, how can we hope to encourage our children to bond and attach in a meaningful way? When I stepped out of my comfort zone and walked over to that little support group of moms Friday night, the Lord began a work in my heart. When I got home, I was able to step out of my comfort zone much more readily and bond with my 10-year old son. As I was able to let my guard down, he was able to follow me lead and do the same. It felt like the first baby step of many.
If you are reading this blog and know me personally, I will be that person for you. I will listen, I will nod, and I’ll say “Me, too.”
If you don’t know me, but are wanting to find someone you can share with, I commit to praying for you to find her, Dear Reader Mama. In the meantime, please feel free to use this blog as a safe place to vent, weep and share.
Blessings and much love,
Please note that this blog is intended to be a completely safe place for mamas (and dads) to share. It will be heavily monitored and comments that are unkind or damaging will not be allowed. Grace abounds. Thank you.