The subject line was “Sad news from the Lewolts”. I was heartbroken and numb as I wrote an email to our life group to tell them about our miscarriage. It was the kind of news that should be done in person, except these were the people who had been praying for us for over a year to get pregnant, and I was too devastated to say the words out loud. After I pressed send there were instant replies of support and love. They brought gifts and meals without being asked. They let me share my deepest struggles and doubts surrounding me in strength, encouragement, and prayer. The intentional way that this group cared for me was lifesaving.
Three years before that email, my husband and I were newlyweds at a new church and in a new community. One of our highest priorities was to join a life group so that we make friends with others who wanted to grow spiritually and to live life together. Our “young married couples with no kids” life group was formed and every week eight couples crammed into our small apartment for snacks, ice breakers, and intentional conversation about the Bible and marriage.
Sometimes we laugh when we look back at the early days of the group. At that stage of life there was plenty of sleep and enough money. Intimacy was easy and stress was light. We shared about the hard parts of marriage, like who would take out the trash and how to politely convince your spouse to get rid of the junk stuff they had before you were married. We didn’t realize that God was using this time to lay the foundations of love, trust, and friendship.
Over the years the prayer requests have become more serious and we have learned to be more honest and vulnerable about the difficulties in our lives and marriages. We have supported one another through hard diagnoses, death of parents, changing jobs, moving across the country, growing families, anxiety and depression, the list could go on… But I have come to realize that hiding sorrow, shame, or even sin from those in your faith community is limiting the opportunity to love unconditionally, course correct graciously, and share the weight of life’s burdens when it is too much to handle.
As we have grown together in Christ, it has become clear that there is nothing we wouldn’t do for one another. But even more than that, we are committed to supporting one another’s marriages. While none of our marriages are perfect, they are all better because we have each other.
Our life group has had couples come into it and move out of it, but the deep commitment to love and support will never change. Over the last seven years, we have added 21 kids (including two wonderful, miracle daughters of mine) to this life group and the most beautiful thing is happening. Our kids are growing up surrounded by best friends and a faith community that cares for one another in tangible ways every chance they get!