A Matter of Trust- Watermark News
Posted on: 05/13/2012
“God has often ‘stacked the deck against Himself,’ only to provide in ways I’d never dream of. Today, I am truly excited about the adventure ahead.” – Julie Penuel
“I’ve always struggled with perfectionism and trusting others,” said Julie Penuel. “I hoped that performing or getting good grades would make me feel worthy of love. It’s not that I didn’t know about God’s grace. I trusted Christ when I was young and had godly leaders who encouraged me to let my life reflect Christ. But at home, I struggled to feel loved by my father. I knew he loved me but I didn’t feel loved by him. That had a big influence on how I saw my Heavenly Father.
“When my family moved to Southern California, it was hard to settle into a new school, but that’s really when my faith became my own. I was challenged to be a godly example because I might be the only Christian some of my classmates would encounter. I was still trying to do my best at everything so that I’d feel loveable. It was very exhausting, but I got praise when I did well, and the silent treatment if things weren’t quite right, so the pattern continued.
“The summer after my senior year, I learned what the Bible says about dependence on Christ. I only was willing to show people the ‘perfect side’ of myself and was missing the opportunity to demonstrate what it is to need Christ. My performance didn’t influence how much the Lord loved me.
“In college I really started getting into studying God’s Word. My mom had always read Scripture to us at breakfast, and told us that spiritual nourishment was as important as food. I also saw how God could use community with other believers to break down walls. As I experienced God’s love from people who accepted me as I was, I let go of the mask of performance and let the Lord have grace for me.
“Then came the moment that really shook me to the core. I had only been on staff at Watermark for a few weeks when I went home to visit my parents. In a family meeting, my father handed me a letter that explained that he was struggling and had been on a very destructive path. It was unlikely that my parents’ marriage would survive. I was heartbroken.
“I felt deceived and betrayed. I eventually spoke with friends who had similar experiences, and went to Watermark’s recovery ministry, re:generation. I spent a year talking to the women in my re:generation group about my parents divorce, and my long-time struggle with trust, insecurity and body image. I had always looked for approval from others and had been let down by people I thought I could trust. I came to realize that God calls me to live in this world and lean on Him alone, because only He is truly trustworthy.
“I also got a picture of how much my fear of trust had influenced my life. After that family meeting I became scared at the thought of marriage. I actually told a friend that I might never be able to trust anyone enough to love or marry them. I wondered what would happen if they made really bad choices or went crazy. Her response surprised me. She said that there was no guarantee that I wouldn’t someday be the one to make a really bad decision. Just because men disappoint and I disappoint, it doesn’t mean God will. I started trusting that God would provide and take care of me regardless of whether I was going to have a husband or not.
“Today, I’m 29 and have been single all of my life. There were times when I’ve wondered why guys weren’t asking me out and if I was worthy of being loved. But God got me to a point where I was actually happy with being single. I can see that God protected me during those years from the heartbreak of finding my worth in man’s approval. But as God was protecting me, He was also protecting a guy named Marcus Toussaint. We met when he started working at Watermark Coffee. He is now my fiancé. I look back and see how God’s hand has worked and allowed us to make a good start in our marriage (in just a couple of weeks).
“I’m preparing to leave Dallas after our wedding and move with Marcus to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he is working on planting a church. I feel like that means I’ve found some victory in trusting God. I’m learning to trust Him with my future and my career, because I don’t know what Flagstaff will be like, and I haven’t found a new job yet. I do know where God is calling me, and I trust God to provide the friends and community to make it happen. Trust is easier to find today because I can now feel God’s love, and it’s so much easier to trust someone when you know they love you! God has often ‘stacked the deck against Himself,’ only to provide in ways I’d never dream of. Today, I am truly excited about the adventure ahead.”
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father... that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)
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