A number of years ago I started to withdraw from God's people.
Being involved in church seemed impossible because of family problems. My children had abandoned their faith. My husband's passion for God had cooled, and our marriage was taking such a hit that I wondered if it could survive much longer. My prayers seemed futile.
When I went to church, each time someone asked, "How are your daughters?" or celebrated their children's godly lives, my pain rushed to the surface.
When someone asked, "Where's Steve?" or bragged about their wonderful marriages, self-pity threatened to smother me.
No one else is suffering like me, I decided. I'll just stay home seemed like a brilliant idea, but the Lord urged me to stay involved.
Reluctantly, I returned to church, and over time, to a women's Bible study. Slowly, I discovered God desired to use his people—even at their most imperfect—to help me navigate rough waters. Here's what I learned along the way.
Be honest about struggles.
Often I was tempted to keep problems hidden, pretending, "All's right with my world."
Yet as I mustered courage to open up, I noticed my honesty freed others to remove "my life's perfect" masks and share their heartaches. This caused me to feel connected.
Some people seemed uncomfortable when I bared my soul (maybe they didn't want to "catch" what I had) but most thanked me repeatedly for my transparency.
Allow others to minister to you.
My honesty led to people offering me counsel, hugs, prayers, wisdom from the Word, and at times their tears.
As I humbled myself enough to listen, godly women helped me view my pain and hard times from God's perspective—a testing of my faith and a means to grow. I repented for believing the lie that all my difficulties were God's punishment for my failings as a wife and mother. I allowed women to help me win the battle against fears, doubts, and unbelief.
Caring believers encouraged me to stay in prayer and the Word and to trust God's timing. I embraced James's words: "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (James 5:16). I felt my soul being healed and matured—instead of just feeling grieved that my loved ones' weren't.
Fellow Christians also helped me see how God was answering prayers for my family life—a little at a time. Gratitude grew.