Friday, June 22, 2007

A soul at peace

Things have come together. I no longer feel so dizzy and stressed. And I'm sure it's all because we had a Living Room meeting this afternoon. How therapeutic that group is for me, even if I am the leader - probably because I am the leader! I get so much out of doing this work. The feeling of joy and peace I have after meetings never ceases to amaze me.

In my small sharing group today the members talked about a lot of pain. It was intense. We felt for each other; there were tears. But at the end of the meeting we prayed and gave it all to God. I went home feeling at peace. I hope the others sensed that peace as well.

That's the beauty of faith-based support. Not only do we support each other, God is there with us. God is part of the picture. We talk about our faith and we talk about our doubts, but we all accept each other - wherever we are. No one judges. At Living Room we can be real with each other and express our joys and pains. This open sharing is healing.

I am excited about having finished the manual to help other Living Rooms get started. I know it will be a powerful tool, helping other churches see the value of such a group and showing them how to set one up. Forming a Living Room group gives churches an opportunity to respond to Christ's call to love and help people in need, people who are all too often shunned in the community. Having such a group in the church is a good way to help build understanding within its congregation. It will help make mental illness a more acceptable topic of conversation, reducing the stigma that exists.

If you are reading this and feel moved to consider such a group for your church, please let me know. For a very reasonable cost (haven't figured it out yet, but it would be under $10, just covering cost for mailing) I could forward you a copy of this twelve-page manual. It will explain all you need to know. The manual includes a letter from my pastor, testifying to the importance of Living Room in our own church's ministry. If interested, you can email me at

My next job will be to write a manual on how to be a Living Room facilitator. And after that, a booklet of sample devotionals to use at meetings.


Syd said...

Congratulations on finishing the manual. What a gift that's going to be. I wish I lived closer - I'd love to participate in your group. Unfortunately, the church I currently go to has over 7,000 members and I'm already feeling overwhelmed and anonymous and disconnected as it is, so I wouldn't dream of trying to start something like this there.

I know I need to start looking for another church, but I just don't have the energy right now. Hopefully I will soon, and God will lead me to the church family where I belong. If they don't already have a group like Living Room, maybe God will lead me to start one.

Please keep up the wonderful work!

PS Thank you so much for your response to my forgiveness posts. If you get any feedback from your pastor, I'm hoping you'll be able to share it with me.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

I agree with Syd. That's great that you finished your manual and I do think that it's going to have a huge impact on people's lives.

I know that at one point or another when we're so sick we can barely stand it, we all ask ourselves, "Why me?"

It would seem that the work you're doing with your Living Room group and the possibility of helping others form similar groups might provide a satisfying answer.


Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Hi Marja,

That's great. Being a facilitator of a Christian group that interacts on the most personal level. If Christ is at the center of your activity, you can be sure of its success. Pain becomes more bearable if shared with kindred souls. God bless you more for your sharing ministry.