By Rachel Lawrence
Since I have been a member of Watermark, I have experienced this thing called “community” in a couple of very different ways.
Joining my first group was a breeze, as I was brought into an existing group by one of my closest and oldest friends. She and I had known each other since we were 9, and I had already met all of the girls in her group. So, I was very comfortable joining in and letting someone else lead, while I took on a consumer mentality for the most part.
Due to a couple marriages and other life events, our group eventually decreased to four core members. We were all good friends and very open with one another. We took various equipping classes together, prayed together, dealt with family issues, spent time together outside of group, had sessions of accountability over dinner, knew each other’s struggles, took trips together…we were living out community the way it was intended. I was known by them and very, very comfortable continuing in the status quo.
Eventually, the question came up of whether we should continue as a comfortable little group, or step out and each lead new groups. Make no mistake: I was exceedingly content keeping things just the way they were. I resisted. I didn’t want to try something new. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable. I didn’t want the responsibility of leading a new group. Couldn’t the four of us just keep meeting as a community group? I delayed as long as possible, and kept sending the message that I was praying about it and processing, but really, how do you pray about something that you are completely closed off to? How do you ask God for guidance when, in your mind, you are completely unwilling?
However, the other three thought we had grown as much as we could as a group and were all in agreement to split up and serve as leaders for new groups. I was left with the option of co-leading a group with one of the other three members, joining another group, or just forgetting about this whole community group thing. I reluctantly agreed to serve as a co-leader, but ONLY to launch the group. The plan was that after six weeks, we would select a member of the group to step up as the permanent leader and “be on our way.” I was fine with this short-term commitment as it was comfortable and definitive. Oh, how God had different plans.
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. - Proverbs 19:21
I still remember our first meeting and seeing all the new faces. It was such a different experience, not knowing any of the girls and having to model community for those who had never experienced it before. The funny thing is, after six weeks, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the group. It just didn’t feel right. I finally surrendered to God and decided that I would remain as one of their leaders and, praise the Lord, they let me stay.
Learning By Leading
I remember wanting things to click immediately and for everyone to be 100% open to accountability right out of the gate. As much as I thought it was my job to challenge them, God flipped it on me and I was challenged to lead out in knowing God’s Word, committing His truths to memory, reminding them of God’s faithfulness, faithfully attending every group meeting, and demonstrating openness and authenticity. As time went by, God brought together 8 very different girls and knitted our hearts together in a way I never could have imagined. By giving Him my old community group and accepting the gift of this new community group, I was blessed beyond all my expectations.
We have been together almost three years now, and I can honestly say that this group is one of the most beautiful gifts I have been given. God’s plan was so much better than mine. All it took was me surrendering to His will with open arms, and in place, He filled me to overflowing with the blessing of discomfort.