My father always taught me that if what I desired didn’t exist, it was up to me to create it. The world, he explained, was not there to serve my needs but to provide a place for me to serve others. This lesson hit me straight in the head recently when I was looking for a small group to join, specifically a group for parents of middle schoolers.
My father always taught me that if what I desired didn’t exist, it was up to me to create it.
I remember Mike and Laura Lee talking about how they started with small groups years ago by getting together with other parents of high schoolers for reassurance and support. And, I thought, hey, that’s a great common denominator for a small group: let’s talk about the issues with which we’re most struggling. In their case it was high school, and in ours, it’s middle school and the tween years.
We started by looking at couples groups, thinking our kids could babysit the younger ones. I’ll be honest; it’s been a tough search. We’re at the point now where finding a night free for all family members plus leaving time for us to hang out for family game/movie night is nearly impossible. After praying about it for a few months, God provided the answer in one of those “ding!” moments—I could nearly hear the bell. In a sermon, Mike explained that small groups could achieve better intimacy when divided by genders. Safety and comfort to speak are paramount to authentic interactions. What husband will discuss a pornography issue sitting next to his wife? What wife will discuss libido issues sitting next to her husband? You can insert any issue there, but the truth is the same, we have to be free to speak and to seek Biblical truth.
After praying about it for a few months, God provided the answer in one of those “ding!” moments—I could nearly hear the bell.
My husband has found a men’s group, and I’m already in a women’s group, but I couldn’t shake the idea that I needed to surround myself with others who are in my boat: the treacherous middle school years. I love hanging out with other moms in my small group, but while a lot of them concern themselves with nap times and child safety, I’m fielding same-sex marriage questions from my daughter.
Looking at the list of small groups at Hope, I noticed not one fit my bill. So, taking my dad’s lesson to heart, I created my own group…with Hope approval, natch. It’s called MOMS: Moms of Middle Schoolers. It will begin in the fall and run every Thursday night in my not-so-perfect home, because you know what? Very few people have a perfect home for a small group, but every one of us has a pretty good home for a small group. Couch? Chairs? Messy? Piles? It’s about being together, supporting each other, and not about having a flawless facility, whatever that means.
In MOMS, we’ll talk about the difficulties and successes, and help each other navigate the choppy waters of middle school years. We can talk about real issues our kids are facing—social media, bullying, puberty, body issues, et. al. While at the same time, not scaring the pants off of mothers of small kids who can’t imagine anything worse than a temper tantrum in Lowe’s Foods. We can get down and dirty and real, and lift each other up.
I praise God that He has me in a place right now where I can study scripture with my other mommy friends, and also create this group to deal with the tsunami of painfully awkward questions my daughter keeps asking me. I want to give her not only good answers, but sound, Biblical ones. I want to raise her to be a strong woman of God. I want to ensure that she knows the correct path so that she can feel good when she’s on it, and when she strays from it, it will be apparent to her. I want to help her by learning as much as I can about what she’s going through, and coaxing out the things she doesn’t tell me. In another year, my son will be there, too, so this is my household reality.
My prayer for MOMS is that God will show every mom of a middle schooler who feels like she’s walking in quick sand that there’s a place she can go, a refuge from this storm of puberty, to find encouragement and enlightenment, and most of all, communion.