Changes are possible!
“My husband and I met and got married 20 years ago. We are both believers and have a Christian family. When the war started my husband chose to go to war and I supported his decision, although it was not easy. 19 months at war, on the front line. Not a single day of peace, every day in fear, no sense of security. I can think of nothing that could be worse than war. When the occupying forces were approaching Odesa, I was terrified. My mom is 83 years old – where would we run?
From the first days of the war, I was haunted by the fear that if my husband died, how would I live without him. I’m scared to even think about it, let alone say it out loud. I avoided these thoughts.
My friends left the country to save their families, their children. I’m lonely, sad and scared. The war destroyed everything: the usual way of life, plans, dreams.
Then a friend of mine invited me to a support group for women and mothers in the military. The name of the group caught my attention – “Strong Together”. How I need the strength and support of others! From the first meeting, I realized that I was not alone, that this was not only my war. I can complain, I can cry, and can be weak. I know that here I will be heard and supported, not condemned. Everyone here understands what I’m talking about.
Before I came to the group, I kept my fears inside me. I was alone with them, and I believe they were destroying me. Acquaintances and neighbors avoid communicating with me, they do not want to talk about sad events.
But in the group, we understand each other, we see and understand each other’s pain. God is our best source of strength and we are a strong resource for each other. This is very important and necessary for me to survive the war, these terrible events and withstand the news that comes from the front line and the occupied territories.
Communication with my husband became a big difficulty. He became rude and to me, thoughtless. It hurt me because he seemed to turn into a robot. I am grateful to the leaders of the group, who explained that the soldier lives in the war, what his condition is, how he thinks. He needs these changes, otherwise he will not survive and will not withstand the psychological stress. I know that many wives can’t stand it and families break up, but I don’t want that. I’m waiting for my hero. At the group, I learn to understand the psychology of a military man, to understand myself, to be enduring, to be a strong support for my loved one who protects me and my country. But for this, it is very important for me to be surrounded by other relatives of the military in order to gain strength and support for myself.
The leaders of the group, Tatiana and Galina, have qualities and knowledge that I can trust. In their presence, I can relax, not control my emotions. I believe in their care. They know how to present information in such a way that I can understand it. I can trust them with my pain, anger, fear. They envelop me in their love, depth in their eyes. I thank the Lord endlessly for bringing me to the group “Strong Together”
When the leaders at Metanoia Ukraine saw that I was in a constant state of stress, they approached me and invited me to join a Journey to Freedom group. I was stuck. I didn’t know how to move from where I was – I worried, but I didn’t do anything to get out. I thought my problem was that I could not prioritize work, study, volunteering, and the many other things that were more than I could handle. It took me a while to understand in what area I have a problem, what prevented me from going through the JTF plans. I saw and heard that others’ stories were more difficult, but it’s not as if I needed to change as much. But when the topic about the influence of the environment on the ability to change began, I understood – here it is, here is a problem that I did not notice: I still accept the influence of destructive company even though topics, values, and habits that I no longer desire are cultivated. I saw that if I wanted real change in my life, I would need to learn to trust new people, to be open to new surroundings. This is a challenge for me – to build relationships without worrying about condemnation and rejection, to clearly express my position and accept other people with their different worldview. But knowing that I was not alone and that others in our group had similar issues gave me strength and showed me that this change is possible.
It was in the group, as in a community of friends, that I felt supported on my journey. I really liked the book “Journey to Freedom”. In addition to psychological points, examples of other people’s experiences about their path of change helped me understand that I can also use my experience for the benefit of my future, not to oppress and stop me. Before “Journey to Freedom”, my faith was quite weak even though I was always interested in my spiritual development. Through communication and prayer with other Christians in the group, my faith in Jesus Christ was strengthened.
Thank you to all the staff at Metanoia Ukraine for caring about each one of us and guiding us to a deeper, stronger, better future.
I used to have too much responsibility for my decisions, for my child’s life, for her upbringing, it seemed like I couldn’t do it alone. My relationship with my daughter went from trusting and warm to extreme control and signs of despotism. At the group, I realised that other parents face similar problems too, and I shouldn’t be afraid of being judged for not being the kind of mother I could be. I learned to see my child as someone with acceptance needs, just like me. I became honest with myself, overcoming my reluctance to speak up in a group. And in that for me was the great value of meeting people, of our mutual support and the security of being open. And in the same way, my relationship with my daughter became honest. The empathy of the group, the examples of change and not changing, which is very important, put me before the choice of facing myself, accepting my wounded feelings of hurt, shame and guilt and going for healing or staying with my despair. I know that my decisions are a journey, not a leap. I am ready for this journey because I realise that God has the power to manifest in my life in ways I don’t expect. When I stumble over my old memories, I know that I am entitled to both mistakes and new lessons. The extent to which we in the group have learned to accept each other in a safe atmosphere has given me insight into how to form these same principles of communication in the rest of my environment as well.
I started “Journey to Freedom” with a fear that I was the worst person in the group. The group helped me to see that I was not alone in my problems and worries. Knowing that other participants in the group are going through the same thing helped me to become more open. I was able to talk about really important things. I came face to face with my fears, my insecurities, my inability to deal with my anger. As I went through the group, I began to believe in the real possibility of change which was very important to me. The support of the group, reinventing myself, and the help of God, gave me the strength to move towards my goals. The atmosphere of acceptance and trust helped me to let go of the past and gain hope. This was the beginning of a new path and change in my life.
On the cover of the Journey to Freedom program, there is the phrase – “The Book That Starts It All” When I read it, I remember over and over again the time when I saw it for the first time. Difficult life circumstances exhausted me, and I could neither believe nor hope for a change. I didn’t have the strength to make decisions or even think about change. It seemed to me that I was the worst and no one would understand or help me. When I received an invitation to the “Journey to Freedom” group, I went just to be polite because my friend invited me. Now, after 10 years, I remember this with a smile. Indeed, from that moment it all began! Confidentiality, no judgment, acceptance and support create a safe space in the group where you can relax and start to rethink your life and understand what you want to change. I learned to dream, plan, form goals, and most importantly – achieve them. Now I feel strong and happy and able to participate in changing my life. Undoubtedly, God is the main force behind our changes, but if I do not participate in this process, He does not do it for me. We take responsibility for the changes in our lives, God gives us strength. The Journey to Freedom program is about this, about our participation in change. Now I run such groups and invite those who want to let change into their lives. Changes are possible!
In the Journey to Freedom group, I realized my fears. I did not allow myself to make mistakes, I was dependent on people’s opinions, I was running away from constant conflicts with my husband, I pleased others to raise my self-esteem. My son is 25 years old and he was still being supported by me and my husband. I was deeply unhappy and lonely under these circumstances. My true self was hiding behind many masks. Thanks to the program I realized my fears and mistakes and made the decision to change my life. I stopped taking responsibility for my son. My relationship with my husband improved. Step by step I followed my change plan, now it is my whole new way of life.