My first time to reGROUP I sat in the dark shadows near the back of the room so that, hopefully, no one else would see the tears in my eyes the entire night. I was clinically depressed, struggling, isolated, and hurting. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me. I hardly had the energy to show up, let alone talk to someone afterwards.
I somehow managed the courage to talk with then-director Jack West (doesn’t that just sound like a superhero name?) and asked him, “Is reGROUP right for me? I’m thinking I should try reGROUP or do some counseling. I’m just feeling lost and not sure where to turn.” He told me I should probably do both. So I did.
reGROUP may not be the right fit for everyone, although I personally think everyone should experience it at some point in their life. Simply put, reGROUP is for anyone who has experienced hurt or pain in their lives. It is for the depressed, lost, angry, and anxious. It is for the legalist and the codependent. It is as much for the addict as the control-freak.
Perhaps the most helpful questions to figure out if reGROUP is a good next step: Where in life do you tend to get stuck? Where is life not working for you? If you are unable to recognize those places, you might not be ready for reGROUP…yet. First and foremost, reGROUP is about recognizing the places in life where we get stuck, are out of control, or notice how our thoughts and behaviors don’t always sync up the way we wish they would. It might be drugs or alcohol, or perhaps it’s disordered eating habits, pornography use, losing hours each week to video games, or financial ruin caused by a gambling problem. Maybe your relationships aren’t fulfilling or you can’t understand why you lose your temper with your kids. However big or however small it seems to you: if it leads you toward dishonesty, hiding, isolation, or broken relationships, address it.
reGROUP’s first-of-three movements is Recognize, where we stop kidding ourselves and begin to name with honesty the places in life that aren’t working. If you can do that, (and maybe right now that’s all you are able to do), you are ready to embark on the journey toward healing, toward truth, toward freedom. The best part is you don’t have to do it alone, and know that you are always welcome on Monday nights at our Herndon campus, even if it’s just to listen in from the shadows in the back.
This past Saturday, September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day. While reGROUP certainly is for people that have experienced pain in their lives, sometimes pain might become all someone feels, to the point where it seems like the only way to make the pain stop is to take your own life. Suicide is a very serious issue that significantly impacts our church and our community. If you are struggling or having thoughts of suicide, please seek help immediately or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
One of my best friends posted to social media last week, “I won't be quiet about my anxiety, depression, counseling, & medication if that means I delete 1 less number from my phone due to suicide.” We are wise when we are weak—and invite others to help us along. I hope to see you at reGROUP soon.