Few things are as disconcerting and isolating as telling someone about your deepest pain and have them look at you like you are from another planet. But outside of support groups, such experiences are extremely common. A person going through a painful divorce might try to explain their distress to a married person, only to receive back a quizzical look conveying a complete lack of comprehension. Or someone might say a few words about being in counseling, and their listener pulls away from them ever so slightly, as if they might catch something. Such experiences can be incredibly painful or create tremendous distance between people.
On the other hand, when another person in your support group can effectively finish your sentence as you stumble for words, or when you see tears come to their eyes as they listen to your story, you feel cared about and less isolated and alone. Besides that empathy, when others exercise the kind of heart-sight that is truly encouraging, a support group can become one of the most important experiences of a person's life. God's desire is to restore people who are broken or sick or needy, and we can participate with Him in that process extremely well within the context of a working support system.
Because we feel heard in a good recovery group, we find a place to belong. Whatever the unifying issue, these become “our people.” Members of such groups often report that they have found another family. This can be especially important for people who are dealing with family of origin issues or the loss of a beloved relative. God designed us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. And if our immediate family is not accessible to us or not supportive of us, these groups can become a highly functional substitute, even if only for a season.
— Except from Forming: A Work of Grace, regarding the incredible value of support groups for spiritual formation.