And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…Hebrews 10:25 NLT
When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation that God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you. 1 Corinthians 14:26 NLT
It’s been said that church is not a social meeting for Christians; it’s a hospital for sinners. Going there doesn’t absolve anyone from their sins, but being with other believers is a good place to stand in God’s presence and repent.
In the throes of my youngest son’s “teenage-ness,” he boldly confronted me by hurling this accusation at me, “You think you’re so much better than everybody else just because you go to church on Sunday!”
“If I’ve given you that impression, then I’ve been doing this motherhood thing all wrong,” I said. “I go to church so that I can be around other people who are sinners and celebrate the fact that I am saved by grace. I go to church because when I look around the congregation, I’m certain I need to be there more than anybody else.”
And I mean that with all my heart. I find that worship in church is a God’s way of healing me from the sinful way I’ve conducted myself during the week. I don’t have to go to church to repent and come back into a good relationship with God, but it sure does help.
I feel the same way about my weight loss support group in TOPS. Taking Off Pounds Sensibly is more than a name — it’s a motto and a way of life. I celebrated my one-year anniversary on April 5, 2017. It’s been an exhilarating year with lots of ups and downs, but overall, a year of tremendous progress emotionally and physically.
If you know any of my background, I started this weight loss journey way back in 2010…and in 2011…and in 2013…and finally, in 2015. I have a great support system in my immediate family. When I finally took charge of my health in 2015, I lost half the weight with the tremendous support of my mother and my husband, Kelly. The only problem was that neither one of them were trying to lose weight WITH me. There’s only so much support you can get from someone who’s not going through the same experience as you.
My great friend, Trisha Smith, her husband, George, and several others organized a new TOPS chapter (NC 947) in January 2016 that met just three miles from my house. I read each Facebook post she shared about this new chapter and thought, “This sounds like fun. Maybe I need to join.” But I didn’t.
I would comment on her posts and even tell her I was thinking about joining. I told her than it January, in February, and in March. Every Tuesday night during their meeting time, God would nudge me and I would ignore Him. Kelly said several times, “It would probably do you a lot of good to join.” I ignored him, too.
Ignore, ignore, ignore…until I gained back some of the weight I’d worked so hard to lose. I stood on the scale that Monday morning, April 4, and stared at the scales, devastated. EIGHT POUNDS! Some of you realize how hard it is to lose ONE pound, let alone EIGHT. And then to gain it back? God pushed me that morning, and it was not gentle. “Do it now,” He said.
And before I could talk myself out of it, I contacted Trisha and said, “I’ll be there tomorrow night!” Even though you’re allowed a free visit before you decide to join, I came with national dues in hand and paid that first night. I was not going to give the devil a week to talk me out of it.
Can I just be honest? It’s the third best decision I’ve ever made (behind choosing Jesus as my Savior and Kelly as my husband). I belong to a group that is more like family than some of my biological family. It’s been the real source of my success, over and above any way of eating I’ve chosen.
Of course, I recommend TOPS and if you want to get more information on this organization, just click here. If you do a Google search, you can find other groups as well. Perhaps there are local groups that meet at a health facility or area churches that you could attend. For lasting results of weight loss, you need a support group. You need a support group like you need a great underwire bra! (Maybe more!)
If you’re ready to look for a group, but don’t know what to look for, let me offer some advice. I’ve narrowed down my “must be” list for a great support group to just four guidelines.
- Your group must be EMPATHETIC. Empathy isn’t something we’re born with, but it’s something that can be easily learned if we practice it consistently. Basically, empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes…to view their situation through their lens, not through your own. That means we cannot pass judgment, but instead, embrace all that someone else is experiencing without pitying them. This, by far, is the most important requirement for finding a support group that will work for you.
- You need a group that ENGAGES and ENCOURAGES each other. There has to be a great deal of positive reinforcement in a weight loss group. It’s morale-building and soul-soothing.
- Your support group needs to have an EVALUATION PROCESS, based on honesty but spoken in love. (It all goes back to empathy.) Evaluation keeps you accountable to yourself and other group members. Without honest evaluations, both individually and group, then your support group experience will be as useless as a flat tire — it certainly won’t take you very far!
- Finally, a support group should EQUIP YOU WITH REAL POWER, not “power-over.” (Real power versus power-over is the topic of an upcoming post, but if you’re interested in getting a head-start, let me recommend I Thought It was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown. It’s a game-changer.) Real power comes from within yourself and is borne from empathy. You cannot have real power by stealing another person’s power. (That’s power-over.)
These are the same guidelines our family used when we were looking for a church home. They’re great guidelines for a reason — they help you find a place where your needs will be met, where you can find comfort, where you can blossom, and where you will ultimately find your greatest successes.
If you have questions, please share them in the comments. If you belong to a great support group, please share that as well. Tell me why you love your support group!
Thanks for reading. God bless y’all!