“But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:26-27 NKJV)
“For the first 20 years of my life, I built my world on three separate foundations: stability, self-worth, and manhood,” said Grant Wilkie. “Although I had heard the Word of God from a young age, I did not know what it meant to genuinely abide in a relationship with Christ. So, when hard times came, my foundation crumbled.”
“My foundation came from my wonderful family. I lived a peaceful childhood in Mansfield, Texas, and my life was genrally stable. But, my sophomore year of high school, I found a note from my dad to my mom discussing the possibility of divorce. As my family seemed perfect on the outside, this note led me to believe that the foundation I’d built my life on wasn’t as secure as I thought it was. This news rocked my world.
“My parents had always been incredibly loving and supportive and never gave me a reason to doubt their love. Yet, because of my own insecurity, I began to try to prove myself to those in my life, ostensibly out of love and a desire to please them. But over time, it became an oppressive burden. My feelings of worth vacillated with how well I was able to fulfill every expectation (real or imagined). As a result of this unrealistic expectation I placed on myself, depression and anxiety overcame me. My life became a performance to prove that I was perfect.
“Because of my eroding foundations of stability and self-worth, I turned to the church for help. Initially, I found comfort and healing in my local youth group. Though some healing did occur, over time a discipleship relationship I had with a female leader developed into a sexually abusive relationship. For years, I masked the pain I felt from that encounter by finding my identity as a man in relationships. It wasn’t until I was in a sexual abuse training class years later that I realized that what I experienced was, by definition, abuse. For years, I thought it was my fault.
“Looking back at my high school and early college years, if you had asked me if I was a believer, I would have confidently said that I was a Christian. In reality, I was just doing enough to convince the watching world and myself that I was the perfect Christian guy uniquely deserving of love, honor, and respect. Looking back, I’m terrified by how much I believed my own lies.
“By my sophomore year in college, it became apparent that there was a chasm between who I wanted people to think I was and who I really was. Despite leading Bible studies, going on discipleship trips, and ‘doing the right things,’ for the entirety of my freshman year I was enslaved by sexual sin and depression. I lied about it, but I could not keep up the lies forever. I finally realized that I was not a struggling Christian, I was a sinner deeply in need of God’s grace. As my outward persona unraveled, I began to realize the inward depravity of my own soul.
“At first, I turned to performance and working hard to be ‘enough.’ Yet, true life-change only happened when I finally began the hard work of confession and repentance. Over time, my life was transformed by allowing the Holy Spirit to change me. Where I once found my identity in the insecure foundation of my family, perfection, and manhood, I now find total security in knowing that I am a deeply loved child of God.
“With this new foundation in place, I applied for and was accepted to the Watermark Institute, a one-year biblical study and discipleship program. Specifically, I’m a Resident serving in Watermark’s College Ministry, which has given me the opportunity to shepherd and care for our student leaders. My greatest prayer for this ministry is that through our work, our students might know, love, and trust God more than I did when I was in college.
“Throughout this year, God has taught me to relinquish my desire to perform and earn man’s approval and simply be grateful for other’s gifts without wanting to be the most impressive person in the room. Abiding in Christ and trusting other believers in the context of community are at the heart of every work of regeneration God has given me.”