Contributed by S.C., Florida
I am so privileged to have a group of women to call friends. I am even more privileged to have a group of women called friends who are safe. And not just safe, but real. They are transparent. They let me be transparent. They let me be me. I can be hurt, I can be happy, I can be angry, I can be all the things God created and intended me to be; and nobody yells at me, dismisses me, or fixes me. They just let me be me, and when I do cry out for help, they offer some of the best insight and wisdom God could provide through sisters. I love these women. I love being able to be with them and not try to fix them....I love practicing (and I need a lot of practice) letting them be themselves and not always trying to offer advice, rather just listening.
I realized about two months after first attending my L.I.F.E. group that I had found a safe place to discuss my issues. It took another month or two for me to realize I had found a home. Who knew it was possible? I certainly didn't think so....I mean, I had spent my life judging others and being fearful of how they were judging me. There were so many masks I wore: different sizes, different shapes, and I could transition from one to the other quite professionally. I certainly didn't discuss feelings - my upbringing trained me well. Feelings just got in the way and prevented me from being successful, appearing educated, professional, and having it all together.
What sad thinking.
I remember the first night I attended a L.I.F.E. group meeting. I was ashamed, scared, disappointed and angry that I had to be there. Don't get me wrong, I chose to be there....but I was angry I had gotten to the point of needing to make the choice. It all makes sense in retrospect, but that night I was far from hopeful. Debbie was the facilitator that night and after making all the introductions, and being welcomed by the group, she said to us, "This is the envelope we pass around. L.I.F.E. Ministries asks for a meaningful contribution each time you attend. Part of our healing is understanding that we are important enough to invest in our own healing and wanting to give back to the ministry that has provided this safe place for us to gather together and create authentic relationships." She went on to say as a first time visitor no contribution was necessary, but to keep it in mind for next week. Strangely enough, in my heart I already wanted to contribute. Deep down, I realized what a fortunate person I was to have a place to go for healing that was already established. I remember thanking God that I lived in a city large enough to have a support group already established and I wondered what it must be like for women who are in small towns with nobody to discuss the pain of addiction. I really WAS grateful I had a place to go where other women had gone before me. Maybe it was because I had prayed for God to send me a mentor, maybe I realized the depth of the uniqueness this group provided. Either way, I was just plain grateful.
Which leads me to the garden. We all know that the ground where we are planting anything must have good soil. We know it must have sunlight and it must have water. Without these elements, what we plant simply dies. As I see it, I am the soil. God provides the sunlight, the water, the seeds; and He has certainly begun breaking up the soil in my heart. I will grow because He loves me enough to provide these things. However, when I participate in His work, it is like I am watering my own yard and I grow so much faster. I join Him in His work, which is reason enough, but I also get the benefits!
REASONS the giving of a meaningful contribution is important to us and the ministry we are benefiting from:
1. We need to invest in our own healing. We must value ourselves as God values us. Making a regular contribution allows us to both physically and emotionally acknowledge our value.
How much more do we appreciate something when we have worked hard and contributed to its success than when something is just given to us?
2. We are privileged to have a group to attend and we want to support the ability for other groups to evolve throughout the world. Only by supporting L.I.F.E. Ministries, saying "Yes, this group helps me!"; and the people who have not only gone before us but have also paved the way for this group, can advancement be accomplished.
3. Years ago, this group would not have existed. The funds are an acknowledgement of the gratitude in my heart to the men and women who broke ground on this addiction. The people who chose to step into the light, struck the first blow into the ground to break up the soil and create a place for the seeds to be planted, watered and grow despite their own shame. I want to honor them and I want the ground to continue being fertile for the heartbroken who are yet to come.
I am truly grateful to no longer be wandering in the desert, praying for water to quench my thirst. God lead me to a place and an organization that participates in what He is doing to heal His children. L.I.F.E. Ministries is actively tilling, planting and watering gardens all over the world. I like to think of God's smile as the sunshine that makes us all stretch and grow towards Him. It is my pleasure to honor Him and my fellow gardeners by contributing each week.