Welcome to the 2022-23 MOPS International Theme – We Go Together
Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
LUKE 5:18-20, NIV
THIS YEAR IS FOR THE ONES WHO ARE READY TO COME ALIVE AGAIN
This year is for the ones who are ready to come alive again. So many of us feel a little numb. We’ve each lost something or felt disappointed over the past few years and now we are needing a new way to move forward. We need a fresh start.
Søren Kierkegaard, a 19th-century theologian and poet, wrote “People settle for a level of despair they can tolerate and call it happiness.” This is the year we no longer settle for tolerable despair, and instead, we’ll dream bigger, risk greater and love better. And the way we’re going to do that is through the company we keep. We’re here to remind you that having your people by your side is not a perk of living a giant, beautiful, juicy life – it’s a prerequisite.
It’s time to toss out our notions that we must do any of this alone, that it’s “too late” to create an abundantly rich group of girlfriends or that the pace of life leaves no room for meaningful connection. Instead, we’ll take in something new, something God is always using to reach out to us: deep relationships.
Having a genuine, supportive, honest group of female friends in your circle is one of the biggest life upgrades. “Ran out of gas? Of course I’ll help push your car, but we will definitely laugh about it for the next 40 years.” Friends to put down as your kids’ emergency contact at school. People who help themselves to whatever is in your pantry without asking. Someone who has witnessed your most embarrassing moment and who would never serve your kid peas because she knows it makes him gag.
If you desperately want this kind of friendship but it feels hard to come by, you’re not alone. Community is such a cliché concept, but the truth is, we are all pretty desperate for it. We know it will make our lives better, and yet finding friends as adults can feel intimidating. Despite our best efforts, we all seem to be in the midst of a loneliness epidemic.
This is why we are declaring it the year of friendship, courage and purpose. Friendships where we aggressively believe in each other, pray for each other and believe the other deserves the world. That is what we do at MOPS. If you’re ready for a community like this, then you belong here. Your best days are ahead of you. We are going to be here cheering you on. And what you can’t do alone, we can and will do together.
No one really loves me.
No one knows the real me.
My life has no purpose.
I am cut off from God.
No one carries the load with me.
I don’t feel included.
Get ready, because this year we will be each other’s hype women, ride or dies and emergency contacts when life demands a call for help. You and me and all of us, we go together.
This year we will:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18, NIV)
Over the past few years, too many relationships have ended due to division and different viewpoints. This is the year to fix what’s broken. Refuse to spend any extra time on petty arguments or trivial disagreements. We won’t let differences divide us; we don’t have time for this kind of no-win wandering. The people around Jesus were always trying to bait him into black/white, right/wrong, and he always found the third way. He wasn’t offended, wasn’t defensive. Instead, he was the one turning water into wine, eating with his enemies, providing stimulating conversation and healing people. Because of that, everyone wanted Jesus at their parties.
This year, we will be people who do things, not people who talk about how others are doing things. We’ll offer help more readily than we offer criticism. When we feel judged or criticized, we’ll assume the best. If we mess up, we’ll ask for forgiveness. We’ll learn from each other and surround ourselves with people who are different from us. Instead of dwelling on our insecurities that cause us to huddle together, we’ll dismantle the cliques that make us feel safe and look for ways to make others feel included. Everyone is in. Everyone is welcome. We’ll be teachable. Uniters instead of dividers.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV)
Showing up is what turns people you know into your people. People who you’ve seen at their best and worst and who you can invite in even when you, your house or your world is a wreck. Yes, this kind of relationship will require risk, but this is the year to be courageous with friendship. To resist insecurity and embrace awkwardness because connection requires vulnerability. We’ll show up for each other in the ways we need, and if we don’t know how, we’ll ask. We’ll get creative in connecting with people and be the kind of women who shout our friend’s name in a room full of opportunities. No jealousy or competition here. Instead, we’ll be midwives for each other, coming around to help birth each other’s dreams and bring one another’s unique offerings into the world. Building the life you want takes a village. May it begin with being courageous, bold, and going all in on friendship.
EXPECT GOOD THINGS.
So [Jesus] said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” (Luke 5:24-26, NIV)
You aren’t behind. Sometimes we look around and feel like we haven’t done enough — haven’t worked hard enough to cultivate friendships, haven’t accomplished what we thought we would in life. Motherhood, marriage and life have proved harder than we thought they would be, and shame tells us it’s because we’ve done it wrong, we don’t measure up, it’s too late. The disappointments of life make us forget how to live expectantly. Don’t buy into the oppressive voice that always tries to convince you you’re not enough or don’t have enough time, money, accomplishments. Imagine that you are 95 years old looking back at your today-years-old self. You’d tell her, “Your life is just beginning! You are sitting on a pile of gems, you just can’t see it yet because you are blinded by your shame. Resist the rush. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it’s not going to. Beautiful things are ahead of you. Your current season is the proving ground for divine participation.” May this season be filled with confident faith. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:10, NIV). May we be people who pray crazy big prayers. May we be alert to the voice of God, developing a deep trust in what our purpose is. No longer will we wake up in the morning, merely looking forward to nap time. Instead, we will wake up expecting to see remarkable things because God is at work.
This year, we are going to come together as friends and show the world the remarkable things that God can do. As we do, may you find sisters who will help you do what feels impossible. May you find boldness in your purpose and comfort in being known. May you find ease in dealing with people who would normally annoy or offend you. May you find yourself at home in any room you enter. And may you say yes to the new things God wants to do in your life.