This post is sponsored by DaySpring and contains affiliate links. I received product in exchange for promotion. All views and opinions (and reading group plans!) are my own.
I've been teasing about this for awhile on Instagram and Facebook, and I am so happy to finally extend this official invitation to join me in a reading group for the book Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Engagement.
I've been spending some time reading a bit of Craving Connection and have been trying to soak up as much as I can before we start reading together. Although I haven't read the whole book yet – and most definitely have been skipping most challenges (in anticipation of this group!) – I wanted to make sure I'd read at least some of the book before I attempted to lead a reading group. I'm really excited to finally go through the book with you at a more meaningful, engaging pace.
As an introvert, I've always found it a bit hard to make friends. I suppose we could talk about trust issues, spending a lot of time in my head, social anxiety, self-doubt, sensitivity, and all of that, but most of all, in my adult life I've never felt like I really needed friends. Sure, maybe a few – as long as I could count them on one hand – but I'd tell myself even then that I don't really need anyone. I'm happy to be alone.
While it may be true that I'm happy to be alone, it's also true that I'm not happy to be lonely, or to feel alone. Do you understand the difference? And yeah, even though I have a loving husband and children to keep me company, I recently went through a very lonely season.
To keep myself from writing a memoir, I'll just share some points to try to help paint a picture of my life currently:
- Language barrier
- 30-something in a community of 20-somethings and 40-somethings
- Blogger (by many this is a foreign, misunderstood hobby/profession)
- Disciplined (I came from the American Dream's workforce – I haven't always been a blogger/designer!)
I think you can kind of imagine how these points (plus more I won't get into here) could lead to something really beautiful... or to something really lonely. My personality traits, my circumstances, my emotions, my skills and experience, my gifts and my faults – all together they're like a powder keg – I could go off at any time, and the explosion will either send me soaring to the highest of heights or it will tear me limb from limb.
It came to a point recently when I was dangerously close to letting my circumstances and failed friendships get the best of me. I was about to throw in the towel and just say, "forget it, who needs 'em?" I was even willing to give up on friendships that were going well in order to avoid the possibility of future fall out. I thought by building a wall around my heart I could protect myself from getting hurt. I told myself I was being proactive.
After awhile though I started to realize that I was getting pretty lonely, and found myself wishing I had someone to count on. Someone who would hear me out over coffee. Someone to distract me with their life's business so I could forget about my own for awhile. Or even better, someone I could share life with.
I've been trying to open myself up more, in my own little ways. Having visitors over is a huge deal for me – hostessing is not one of my spiritual gifts – and I think anyone who knows that about me would be absolutely shocked at the number of visitors we've had over the last few months. (I definitely deserve a gold star.) Also, joining a women's bible study has been a great big leap of faith for me, and I've found myself really enjoying it, and there are definitely authentic friendships to be made there. I also try to plan a one-on-one coffee date at least once every couple of weeks.
I'm making progress! However...
When I read the description of Craving Connection and learned more about the heart behind the movement, I knew right away this book was going to challenge me in great ways. DaySpring and (in)courage are coming together to provide each of us with tools and resources that will help us connect with God, friends, and our communities on a deeper, more meaningful level, and I am so ready to be challenged and encouraged in this way! Even more, I'm excited to have you join me!
Not only are we going to walk away from this book feeling challenged and empowered (and hopefully having made some connections!), but there are fun products available to help encourage us even more! The clipboard in the photos below comes with interchangeable cards and hidden card storage, and the necklace is one of a pair to share (I've already given my matching necklace to a friend!). There are also encouraging cards, pouches, journals, and other great gifts available from DaySpring and (in)courage!
Above all though, my hope for this reading group is to spark conversation, to encourage each other in the challenges presented by Craving Connection, and to build deep, meaningful, life-giving relationships.
(I've also been considering keeping the reading group going with new books after we've finished Craving Connection, so I'm hoping for that too! We could all use a few more reading buddies, after all!)
Now, let me know in the comments if you plan on joining!