I'm in an open and honest mood, so I'm about to make a confession here...
I attend a weekly support group at the Nazarene church. Now, I don't struggle with addiction. Honest. I'm not just in denial. Those of you familiar with Bill W. and the Twelve Steps know that they are applicable to anyone, regardless of their personal issues in life. And we all have issues (even the Cat Daddy, believe it or not).
So being neurotic, and a nervous type, I was introduced to support groups several years ago as a way to maybe be not quite as neurotic and nervous, but mostly just to have a place to share my thoughts, no matter how crazy, and to be open to whatever work God wanted to do in me, and to have a safe place in which to do it. I went for some time at the home church before we started this whole Air Force thing. Then I didn't go to any groups for a long time, and when we moved here I felt like it might be a good idea to start back up again, so I found this group at the Nazarene church, and here I am.
Admitting you have issues is hard to begin with, being that it feels weak and vulnerable, and sometimes it's hard to know when and where it's safe to do so. There is no shortage of people in this world who will immediately try to:
a) Fix your issues with a simple blanket homily about victory in Christ, and then wait for you to respond with "Oh! I'd never heard of victory in Christ, I'm fixed now, thank you!"
b) Chalk up your issues to being human, which is true but doesn't help you to deal with your particular ones.
c) Pigeonhole you into their own mental inventory of what people with various issues are like. Then try to fix you with a more specific homily about victory in Christ over alcohol, or profanity, or whatever.
d) Run the other way. It's actually best when they do this one.
e) Talk about their brother-in-law who has issues, and embarrasses the whole family with his antics every Thanksgiving.
It just so happens that all of the above are generally not allowed at support groups (except the running away--you can leave anytime you want). The groups are comprised of people who all admit that they have one weakness or another, so everyone's on the same level. Similar to therapy, but on a much smaller and more low-profile scale. And free.
Keeping in the spirit of my "bad church visitor" summer, I am allowing myself to be a teensy-bit bad about the group. I'm not on the phone list, I haven't acquired any of the written materials, and I'm not going to the summer conference. However, I do share honestly about my feelings and I don't make any snide remarks. Or very many, anyway. And never directed at anybody.
It's actually kind of rewarding, every so often, to take stock of where I've been, how I've grown, and such. And doubly cool to share encouragement when a newbie comes in looking just as freaked out as I was my first time and say "you're in the right place, and we're glad you're here." Really it's just like Cheers, but without beer. Or Cliff Clavin. In a support group, Cliff would have to cool it after 3-5 minutes...