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 the "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.1