I couldn’t have imagined how much MOPS would change my life when I joined my group five years ago. Our group was small, maybe 15 moms, which allowed us to grow close rather quickly. As close as this group was, I still did not feel comfortable sharing my whole self: my depression and my anxiety. The struggle was real. There were days I thought I would never stop crying, and to say my marriage was on the rocks would be an understatement. I felt so alone, so helpless and so worthless.
Less than a month before I had led my first MOPS meeting as the Coordinator, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after becoming suicidal. Stepping into the doors of the “crazy house” (as I called it at the time) felt like a failure, and I was incredibly ashamed. God worked on my heart, and I left feeling blessed by the people I had met. I was thankful I had the chance to see this disease in a different light. I no longer considered it the “crazy house,” but a place where beautiful souls fought tremendous battles in life.
Still, I shared my experience with no one. The stigma (whether real or imagined) attached to what I had experienced, convinced me it was best to keep my private life just that – private. Then, I went to MOMcon. Speakers told their stories of dark times to a packed ballroom of more than 2,000 moms and moms raised their hands in solidarity. Depression and anxiety was not something to be ashamed of, and, in that moment, I realized I was not alone.
I finally shared my story with my MOPS group and it was such a relief. They didn’t judge me or treat me differently. They embraced me, bought me flowers and thanked me for my vulnerability. Then, other moms in our group started sharing their stories and the dynamics of our small group discussions dramatically changed. It’s amazing what God does for us when we open up and trust him.
I was ecstatic when the President and CEO of MOPS International, Mandy Arioto, announced at MOMcon the launch of the first M Collective, written for moms struggling with depression and anxiety. I have to do this, and I literally ran to Studio M to purchase my copy of the Facilitator Guide and Workbook. When I returned home, I ordered six more Workbooks and started advertising for the Fierce Love Collective. I emailed our group and immediately a new mom I had never met signed up. She was followed by two more new moms who signed up following our MOPS family picnic. Four of us made a group and so we started.
Our church opened its doors to us on Monday nights, so we decided to start at 7:00 p.m. so child care would not be an issue. The Facilitator Guide made leading the Collective very easy, so I was able to relax and participate in the group, too. By the second meeting, we all felt comfortable with each other, and by the third meeting, one mom had even brought her friend to the group.
Our group of five came from all backgrounds (Christian, Jewish, seekers, skeptics) and all walks of life (new moms, experienced moms, an ESL mom). By the end of the nine weeks, we were saying our goodbyes like summertime besties at the close of camp. One mom shared that this helped her break down walls and trust other women, and everyone told of growing stronger in their faith.
“I’ve learned that with God I am never alone … I always have a friend.”
“God is fighting for my self-worth, for my family and for my love.”
“It’s liberating to be able to express that life isn’t all gravy. Being a mom is way harder than I ever thought it would be.”
My favorite meeting came in the final week when we all got the chance to share how we had seen others grow. The “Fierce Love Warriors” (as we referred to ourselves) cheered, praised and encouraged each other in such real and genuine ways that it was hard to believe we had only spent nine weeks together! These women hold a special place in my heart and I am so thankful to MOPS for bringing the Fierce Love Collective to our community. Plans are already underway to start additional Collectives soon!
Start your own Collective or find other ways to reach the moms in your community here.
Have you already started your M Collectives journey? We would love to hear your story! Email us at email@example.com.
Fierce Love Collective created in partnership with My Quiet Cave.