Fellowship of the Friends

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.
  1. 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.

Comments 11

  1. Amy Brown
    May 3, 2018

    Yes, I felt this, too, sweet friend!! Transform was tremendously impacting with its fresh, thought-provoking material, but the friendships that were renewed and deepened were the highlight for me, too. And new friendships began, as well!

    1. Jen Coursey
      May 3, 2018

      🙂 It was a delight to be with you!

  2. Erna Topliffe
    May 3, 2018

    Yes, I am sad that I didn’t attend this event. The photos look like everyone had a blast!
    I do enjoy when I’m together with like-minded people. Journey groups have been great for me. 🙂
    Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to connect with y’all in July at Thrive 3!

    1. Erna Topliffe
      May 3, 2018

      One more thing…There is incredible value in your sharing of how the 19 relational brain skills work for you and in your family via your blogs. I pass these on to my clients when appropriate. So you’re participating in my ministry as well! Won’t heaven be fun…to see where the seeds we’ve planted have sprouted and grown?
      I have a friend who ensures that she tells me when Thrive/Joy teachings I’ve shared with her have been passed on to others. The most recent was a friend of hers in Spain, but there’s also been Chinese and Russian ESL students she’s taught, etc. So some ‘grandchildren’ for you as well. 🙂

      1. Jen Coursey
        May 3, 2018

        Thank you Erna, this is so encouraging. I love to see the 19 relational skills spread!

  3. Lorri Goodgame
    May 3, 2018

    So good, Jen! Thanks for sharing 🙂 What you said resonates on so many levels. Thankful for “our people” 🙂 See you this summer at THRIVE training!

  4. SUNGSHIM
    May 3, 2018

    How wonderful to read this beautiful reflection Jen! My special moment with you at the park was one of my highlights! thank you for encouraging other women to do the same through your life experience! You are the woman who first metabolized what God gave you as a food and feed others. I can trust you as a leader and friend!

  5. Dave ward
    May 3, 2018

    Ladies that is some very good stuff. I think this is what God wants of us from the beginning. To love our neighbors as we love ourselves. U ladies r loving urselves and ur neighbors. Good stuff. Keep up the good work of Jesus. Our world really needs Jesus and the relationships we learn from him.

  6. Shirley D.
    May 4, 2018

    Thank you for the effort you all are putting in to the writing and giving life examples to us. Keep up the good work. It is so refreshing to read from people who are in progress of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. I love the part where you are waiting for your “adult card”. Before you will know it the card will arrive with the return address of AARP.

    Blessings,

  7. Kimberly A McArthur-Self
    May 6, 2018

    Your words speak and breathe life and truth. I am blessed this morning to read them! I can relate and connect with so much of what you shared so eloquently. I have been blessed by your Marriage retreat as well as a Thrive event (and Chris’s speaking at our camp several summers ago up in Traverse City). I hope to be able to attend something again soon. Would love to connect with both of you again.

  8. Marsha Kumar
    May 11, 2018

    Love these blogs. What an amazing tribe we have as joy spreaders.

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