In difficult times a small group can be healing, offering a place where it is safe to talk on a deeper level than usually happens in social settings. Many churches offer small groups as a way to connect closely and learn together. There are “share groups” available to anyone who has been on the spiritual retreat called the Emmaus Walk. Similarly, there are many Promise Keeper men’s groups.
There also are many support groups available to help with personal issues. These groups include Overeaters Anonymous, 12 step groups, (AA, AlAnon, and Celebrate Recovery), cancer support groups and The Third Option (for hurting couples), Grief Share, Divorce Care, Job Search and others. Groups united around specific interests are also helpful such as writing groups and hobby groups. Groups are helpful because “No man is an island” – we need relationships that are authentic, safe and affirming.
Groups become bonded emotionally. The members care about each other. The group rejoices over the success of the members and offers emotional support when difficulties occur. Over time, openness and trust grow.
Look for a small group that is healthy. Scott Peck, psychiatrist, makes a distinction between a healthy group and a cult. A healthy group draws people in by its connectedness, applies no pressure for people to stay and glories in the extraordinary differences of its members while a cult exerts tremendous pressure to join and is characterized by a certain sameness of the people in them.
Though a support group involves personal sharing this should happen gradually and only as you feel trust in the group. You should be allowed to listen and observe at first and only expected to participate as you are ready. I highly recommend support groups.
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10