When I first attended Healing Through Christ 12-Step meetings, I was fortunate to find a meeting 15 minutes from my house. I was able to gather in person with other women and witness the success of the 12 Steps in their life and receive support from the group as I began my own 12-Step journey. I loved how safe I felt in meetings, and I was grateful for the love and acceptance I experienced. I felt a profound sense of loss when I could no longer attend the meetings, and I stopped working the steps.
A few years later I was introduced to phone meetings. But what about the personal connection? What about the feeling of a safe space? What about the love and acceptance I felt from the other people in the meeting? I was grateful for the chance to read and learn about the steps again, but I anticipated missing the sense of community and support I felt in face-to-face meetings.
Boy, was I wrong! I treasure the two phone meetings I attend now, and I feel that precious safety and support from my phone groups. I may not know the other members of the group in person, but I know their hearts and they know mine, and I trust and love each of them. Phone meetings are fantastic, and in fact, they have some advantages over face-to-face meetings.
Phone meetings “are held to eliminate travel, make meetings accessible to more people, and provide a degree of anonymity that is not possible in a face-to-face meeting.” During a polar vortex, when the governor has declared a snow emergency, I continue to participate in my weekly meeting without having to leave my home. People who have limited mobility are not limited in their ability to attend. Those in an area where there are no local meetings can still be part of a vibrant group meeting on a regular basis. When I travel, I call into my meetings faithfully. If you have access to a phone, you can attend a meeting.
Importantly, we remind participants who call in that while they are welcome to read and share, it is also perfectly acceptable to listen only. This provides newcomers an opportunity to “learn the ropes” and become comfortable with the group before speaking up. Sometimes no one knows about the challenge they are facing, and they can preserve their privacy until they are ready to become an active participant in the group. This is one of the unique advantages of a phone group. It may seem odd, but those who regularly listen only also become an important part of the group. They contribute in spirit, even if they never say a word, and their presence is felt.
Perhaps the most valuable advantage to me is that while I am part of the group, I feel more connected to my Heavenly Father when I am calling in from home. I am not thinking about other’s facial expression, or my own, or checking in to see how others are reacting. I am free to listen more attentively to the Spirit. This attentiveness certainly happens in face-to-face meetings, too, and perhaps this is a distinction that is not shared by many, but I feel more attuned to the Spirit and more likely to write down promptings when I am calling in from my own home by myself. However, I still feel supported by the group, still feel that I can talk about hard things and feel the presence of loving witnesses, still feel the unity of a group walking the same healing path into the Savior’s arms.
Have you tried a phone meeting yet? Do you know someone who would love to be part of a Healing Through Christ 12-Step meeting, but they live far from the closest meeting? All of our meetings have a call-in option; in fact, many of our meetings are call-in only, with no physical meeting space. There are meetings throughout the week, in the morning, evenings, and late evenings after children’s bedtimes. If you know someone who is nervous about calling in alone the first time, invite them over to your home and call in together.
There is so much flexibility with phone meetings; they can meet needs in many different ways. What is consistent is the support and love and insight that we gain from other members of the group as we work this healing program together and feel the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ working in our lives and hearts every day.
Try a meeting this week! You can find a list of our meetings, in the Eastern Time Zone, at https://thearborkalamazoo.com/phone-in-meetings/ or a variety of other meetings listed at http://www.healingthroughchrist.org/support-meetings/