In 2016 we packed up our belongings, sold our house, and moved across the country to Arizona for a job opportunity for my husband. To say it was a hard transition is a gross understatement. In the span of three months, my entire world was turned upside down, and I was in a freefall. I was moving to an entirely new climate and culture, becoming a stay-at-home mom, and losing my entire base of community and friends. I felt as though my whole identity was being taken from me. Luckily, a good friend here encouraged me to find a MOPS group as soon as I moved. I had never had any real need for a MOPS group before, but it turned out that finding a MOPS group was the lifeline I didn’t know I needed.
For those unfamiliar with MOPS, it is a Christian organization with groups all over the country (and abroad) that offer moms of young children a place to come together in community. Where and how the meetings take place largely depend on the group itself, but the goal is all the same: to give moms a chance to come together to feel seen and know they aren’t alone; a place to connect. This connection turned out to be the lifeline I didn’t know I needed.
Through a very serendipitous house hunting experience, we moved about five minutes away from a church that an acquaintance had told me we should try once we moved. We showed up that first Sunday, and the sermon was on friendship. I remember fighting back the tears as I thought about all my friends who were now thousands of miles away from me. I inquired about the MOPS group and was deflated when I was told it was full but to send an inquiry email anyway. A few days later, I got an email from the intake coordinator offering me a chance to attend the next meeting. That first meeting began my love affair with what MOPS has to offer. I sat at a table with other moms and was able to start the hard work of building relationships and connections in a new town. It was the lifeline that helped me not feel so invisible. Suddenly this huge city didn’t seem so overwhelming. I would see other MOPS moms out and about. It was so comforting to see a face I recognized in Target, at the park, etc. My MOPS group became the key to helping our family find community in our new surroundings.
It is not an exaggeration to say that MOPS helped make my time in Arizona a blessing. It allowed me to find community and belonging in a place known for its stand-offish and transient vibe. It gave me a place to recharge over a hot meal, conversation, and coffee. It brought me friendships that were a blessing and helped my family feel we belonged. It provided me with opportunities for leadership within our group and an opportunity to use my brain for something besides mothering. It helped me strengthen my faith by reminding me God is right here with me on this journey. It was the lifeline I didn’t know I needed. My closest friendships from that season are all related to that MOPS group; those friendships and community helped me to find my new identity in my new place.
My MOPS journey continued when we made a move back to Indiana. Once again, I found that my involvement with the group was the lifeline I didn’t know I needed. While we had, quite literally, moved right back from where we came, things were still different. My friends here had continued to make new friends and connections, and I needed to strengthen and expand the community and friendships I had before our move to Arizona. Joining another MOPS group gave me the lifeline I didn’t know I needed. It allowed me an opportunity to meet other moms and make new connections. Like in Arizona, I saw other moms from MOPS out in the community. Our shared MOPS experience gave us that immediate connection and helped me expand my friend and community groups.
I am now in my second year of helping to lead the MOMS Next group (this is for moms of school-aged kids), and I am still so thankful for the need these groups continue to fill in my life: friendship, community, and faith. Once again, it has helped fill my cup in so many facets of my life: challenging me to go outside my comfort zone through a leadership position, providing opportunities for friendship and community, and reminding me that God chose us to be our kids’ parents and that He is always with us.
If you are feeling lost, needing friends, missing community, or want an opportunity to sit and engage with other moms, MOPS may be your lifeline. Motherhood is the most challenging role I’ve ever had, and MOPS was the lifeline I didn’t know I needed to make its journey sweeter. If you are interested in finding a MOPS group near you, you can click here.