Last week I was thankful for the opportunity to attend the Transform conference hosted by our partner ministry, Life Model Works. Chris was invited to speak on the 19 relational brain skills, and I decided to join him. Little did I realize just how much I needed this time away with my hubby as well as some special friends. Even more than the content of the event (which was excellent), I needed joyful fellowship. These interactions were profoundly impactful for me.
During the three days, I spent time with conference-goers, speakers, ministry leaders, and authors. I am inspired by these people! While I enjoyed my time with everyone, God especially used my connection time with the women to refresh and invigorate me.
Throughout the event we shared stories, we laughed, we cried, and we shared our hearts. These are my people I thought to myself. I felt at home with these ladies. I could see myself more clearly in their presence. Another perk was the gift of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone God has given us to help us stay connected. Women especially are sensitive to the effects of oxytocin, which leaves us feeling peaceful, generous, attached and more trusting. We feel the reward of a relationship when oxytocin is present as we bond with our sisters. When women are together in fellowship and interaction with one another, their oxytocin levels increase. (1) This “charge” makes us feel more connected. I suppose I could say my relational joy bucket, as well as my oxytocin tank, were filled.
Another particular highlight of the conference was how I felt God whispering and working in my heart. I sensed Immanuel was talking to me about my identity. I felt reminded that I am a capable woman of God. I am a ministry leader. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a daughter of the King. I am loved. God delights in me. I needed this reminder. What would God say to you about your identity today?
I don’t know about you, but these expressions of my identity do not always feel true. Sometimes I feel like I am, “just a mom” as if this is somehow a lesser identity and I am waiting to raise my children so that God can then use me for something “important.” It feels strange to acknowledge this. Or, sometimes I feel like I am still a college student and my life is on hold as I wait to see where life will take me, as though my “adult card” will arrive in the mail at any time. Then, I look around and wonder how I am supposed to juggle all of the big tasks on my plate, such as raising kids, managing a household, and running a ministry. Sometimes the identity that feels true at the moment doesn’t feel like it is enough. Can you relate?
During my time with capable, funny, beautiful, strong, humble, joyful women at the conference, I felt my identity strengthen. It was as though God was showing me through these ladies some of what He sees in me. At THRIVE Training, we would call these ingredients Skill 5: Family and Group Bonds, and Skill 13: Seeing What God Sees. I am growing in my confidence that what He has placed in me is enough, and it is beautiful. I believe this is true for you as well. Can you see it?
As mothers, wives, and women, we require a “fellowship of the friends” community around us, which includes like-minded and like-hearted individuals with whom we can laugh, cry, peer into our hearts and reflect back what God sees in each other.
If you have friends like this, find a way to spend some much-needed time over coffee, tea or at the park. Use the phone if you have to. Share your heart. Listen to the thoughts and feelings of your friend. If you do not have a friend for your heart, this is a great time to start praying and asking God to bring someone across your path. Take a risk. Open up and express what’s on your mind. Not everyone who comes along your way will be the close friend your heart needs, but if you never take the risk, you will not find the treasure.
Dr. Jim Wilder taught me this. Learn more about oxytocin with The Chemistry of Connection by Susan Kuchinskas. Our Joy Rekindled marriage events offer exercises for couples to enjoy this oxytocin charge.