When you get to the place in your grief where you finally look up to see what's happening around you, one of the first things you will notice is the wave of encouragement and support from so many people who sympathize with your loss and want to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The blessings that come from that season are so overwhelming and humbling and will remind you that God cares about your hurt and the details of your life. There's something so special about people coming together to care for the hurting. But as time goes on and as even the most genuine people begin to get back to their own life, you may notice the meals, calls and texts begin to slow down. That’s normal and it doesn’t mean that anyone has stopped caring about your hurt, it’s just means that they have their own lives to manage too.
When the crowd begins to clear, your small group will appear. They will be the most impactful relationship in your journey to your new normal. If you are still not sure how to tell who those people are, just look for the ones who step up selflessly and sacrifice to be there in the time of need. The ones that literally quite their job, move their family, open their home, rearrange schedules, take the kids to doctor’s appointments, attend parent/teacher meetings, show up in force for Muffins with Mom Day at school and clean up messes that no one will ever see on social media. They are your small group and trust me, they are a big deal.
Why are they a big deal? Because not only do they step up in big ways, but the strength and vibes that come from your small group can set the pace for your healing as well. These are the people you pour out your heart to and talk with about decisions…big and small. They will spend more time with you than anyone else. Trust me, you want you it to go well and there are a few things you can do to make sure your group stays healthy and strong - here they are:
1. Say thank you and let them know how much you appreciate their love and support on a regular basis…don’t assume they already know it.
2. Look for ways to bless them…bring them a coffee, write them a note, pick up supper.
3. Communicate. Let them know what’s on your mind and what your plans are and ask them those same questions on a regular basis.
4. Maybe most importantly, know their love languages and let them know what your's are.
One of the biggest opportunities to grow closer or further apart can depend on how well you figure that out. If you need to talk through your grief and be encouraged, let them know that words of affirmation are important. If they need quality time with you to be encouraged, make that happen. If it’s acts of service, do something that shows them you care.
I am still learning what it means to be a good part of my small group. I’ve been selfish on a regular basis and it has taken me a long time to figure out some of the things I just mentioned above. But through it all, I have seen the value and strength of my small group and I have been overwhelmed by the love and support they have shown. And instead of them trying to tell me it’s going to be ok, they have stayed with me until I could say it. Forever grateful for them!
Who is your small group? Have you found these points to be true or have you had a totally different experience? Are there any other pros to small groups that I didn’t mention? Feel free to share your thoughts.