Article by: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries
After a devastating miscarriage and a season of unexpected infertility, I was finally a mother.
In spite of the joy I felt, I could not shake the feeling that something was missing in my life.
The beautiful burden of motherhood with all its sleepless nights, stinky diapers, and showerless days drained my strength and strained my soul in the most unexpected way.
I was the first in my group of girlfriends to have a child, and I quickly found myself craving connections with women who understood what I was going through.
But the idea of making new friends terrified me.
As I rocked my baby girl in the middle of the night, I whispered a weary prayer, “God, would you please help me find friends who know how to support me in the midst of all my fluctuating hormones and crazy insecurities?”
Time passed and I had nearly forgotten my whispered plea when God’s answer arrived in the form of a phone call from someone I hardly knew.
“Would you like to come to MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) with me this week?”
What should I say?
My baby is 6 weeks old, I’m sure I could leave her with my mom.
But am I really ready to subject my fragile soul and hormonal post-partum body to a room full of strangers—no worse—female strangers?!?
“Oh, that’s so sweet of you to offer…”
…BUT I don’t have the energy, you know how it is with babies, maybe I’ll be rested in a year or two, could you call back then?
…BUT I had planned to take a shower that day, and my shower is very sensitive, I just don’t think it could handle another rejection.
…BUT I’m terrified of other women, they don’t like me, and I’m still extremely hormonal, and I’m sure I’ll cry like a fool and everyone will judge me and then I will feel worse than I do right now, so how about I save everyone the trouble and stay home…forever.
“I’d love to go. It would be so fun to meet other moms and maybe make a new friend or two.”
As I hung up the phone, I felt like a big old phony.
Why did I say yes?
In hindsight, I think I said yes because I was craving connection, and this kind woman had just thrown me a lifeline.
So I went to the meeting (even though I was intimidated, nauseated, and oh-so-tempted to use one of my carefully-thought-out excuses after all).
And I have never been more uncomfortable.
It was horrible.
I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
But when the next meeting rolled around, I made myself go again.
And somewhere in the midst of all the agains, I discovered that I’d rather be uncomfortable in community than comfortable in isolation.I’d rather be uncomfortable in community than comfortable in isolation. #cravingconnection
When I prayed for the strength to step out of isolation and into community, I found the piece that had been missing from my life.
During the 8 years I faithfully attended my local MOPS group, I learned that…
A weakness shared connects
A fear revealed fortifies.
A friend pursued delights.
MOPS gave me a place to belong, a community to call my own, and friendships that will last a lifetime.
My circle of mommy-friends is far from perfect, but it is exactly where I need to be.
Each woman has something unique to offer, and just like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, there is a spot that only she can fill.Just like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, there is a spot that only you can fill. #cravingconnection
Do you long for community, yet struggle to find real and practical ways to connect with others? Or, are you stuck in a rut like I was all those years ago, creating a slew of neurotic excuses every time an opportunity presents itself?
If so, I’ve got the most amazing new resource from the women of (in)courage to share with you today!
A review copy of this book was provided by B&H Publishing in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.
Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real Life Engagement is written by real-women sharing real-stories from their real-lives.
The format of this book is perfect for busy women, offering engaging story-based devotionals rooted in the life-giving truth of God’s word.Craving community yet struggling to connect with others? Check this out! #cravingconnection
The inspiring women from (in)courage believe that we must remain (in) Christ if we ever hope to find the courage to embrace community.
For this reason, the book is divided into three sections (each section building on the last).
Section 1: Connecting With God More Deeply
Section 2: Connecting With Friends More Purposefully
Section 3: Connecting With Community More Intentionally
Each section includes 10 easy-to-read devotionals, including real-life stories, thought-provoking questions, and a down-to-earth connection challenge.
With 29 contributing authors offering a fresh voice and unique perspective on every page, there truly is something for every woman in this beautiful book.
Each devotion takes less than 10-minutes to read, and the connection challenges are very doable (it is obvious that they were carefully crafted with introverts and exhausted extroverts in mind).30 Connection Challenges - Crafted for Introverts and Exhausted Extroverts. #cravingconnection
Here are a few of my favorite challenges:
- Sincerely acknowledge the work of someone who inspires you.
- Go from “me” to “three” by connecting with two people this week.
- Practice actively capturing your thoughts as you go about your day.
- Share your story first so that someone else might feel comfortable sharing theirs.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness fade away as you make your way through Craving Connection because the brave women of (in)courage are not afraid to “go there” and humbly reveal their own struggles and insecurities.
As Renee Swope says on page 44, “Our weaknesses are the things that keep us connected because they are what we have in common.”Our weaknesses connect us because they are what we have in common. @reneeswope #cravingconnection
God created women with a craving for connection, and this book is a fantastic tool to help us break free from the insecurities that isolate and find courage to embrace community.
I pulled 9 of my very favorite quotes from the book and made them into downloadable quote graphics.
To Download, click on the image (full size will pop up on your screen), then right click “save image as.” Or easily share images on Pinterest by clicking on the “P” button.
I’m also super excited to share that I’ve been invited to be a member of the 2017 (in)courage Ambassador Team hosted by B&H Publishing.
It is my privilege to partner with the women of (in)courage who graciously share their stories of what Jesus looks like in their everyday, gloriously ordinary, and often messy lives.