I used to think I lived a happy life.
Five years ago I was lost. My marriage was struggling. There was a lot of ugliness in the way my husband and I interacted with one another. Our relationship was filled with arguments and financial stress.
A New Kind of Honest
I’m a hairdresser and one day a new client came in. She was really direct and honest, the type of person who tells everyone exactly what is on her mind. She was particular about how she wanted to sit during the haircut and what type of style she wanted. I found her honesty refreshing. And then she started to talk about her faith in God, and in a very personal way. Thankfully, she must have liked the haircut, because as she continued to come back and sit in my chair, she continued to talk about her relationship with God. Every Christian I knew was "fake.” I always thought to myself, “Why would I want to go to church and become like them?”
She was different than any Christian I had ever met. How could she be so real and be a Christian?
During one appointment, she brought me a Bible and invited me to church. I felt so connected to her and compelled to join her, at least once, because I didn’t want to let her down.
Finding a Home
Once I went to church with her I just never stopped. At the same time, my husband was seeing Sandals Church stickers everywhere so we checked it out together. One Sunday, Pastor Matt preached on how you need to find your home church and stop jumping between churches. That is what really led us to stay put and choose Sandals Church as our home church.
Little did we know that our life was about to change drastically. It was at Sandals Church that I first experienced the love of God.
This fresh new encounter with God came after deciding to join a marriage group. If it wasn’t for God’s work through that group, we wouldn’t still be married. God began to change my life. I learned the importance of accountability and encouragement. I started to experience God’s love and mercy for the first time. God used the people of Sandals Church to introduce himself in a real way.
A Change of Heart
As God continued to change my life in this group, my heart grew heavy for the women that I encountered while doing hair. I wanted so badly to give them the hope that I had found in Jesus. God was breaking my heart for people.
I went from being the kind of person who didn’t care at all about other people to being able to feel other people’s pain with them.
I remember after a year or two, our group leader asked us to ask God how we are gifted and what gifts we can use to honor him. I knew in that moment that my gift was relating to people. Women talk to me, they feel comfortable sharing their stories with me and I knew I was supposed to lead a women’s small group.
I immediately said, “No, I can’t do it.” My fear was bigger than God’s voice.
The fear of not knowing enough, being too young, being judged, having a loss of words and most importantly, the fear of failing all hovered around me. I’m not equipped. What if I leave people worse off than they were before they joined my group?
Saying No to Fear
The next week at community group, our leader challenged us to put our gift into practice and that challenge hit me like a ton of bricks. I finally said yes.
I decided to go around to my neighbors and friends. I invited them each personally and told each one why I believed they needed to come to the group. I had no idea which ones would actually show up. Not all of them were Christians, but I told them that we are all women who need help. Eight women came! After all of my anxiety, here they were.
“For sure,” I thought, “They have to know I have no idea what I'm doing.” But they kept showing up. On the first week, one of the ladies started to believe in Jesus. Her life was changed. God was so amazing. They kept coming back. Every week was a challenge. I was still so nervous and asked the groups team if I could quit. But they encouraged me to keep trying and I kept seeing God using this group to show me how amazing he is.
When I Said Yes
Now I get to see these women pray for and encourage each other and I’m so glad I said yes in spite of my fear. The walls are being broken down, we are getting vulnerable and our lives are being changed.
All I had to do was say yes. I had to leave my fear behind and trust God to work. Through starting a group I’ve gotten to see that God is so much more than I ever knew it would be. Every step of the way has provided more joy than I ever could imagine.
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