“I grew up in a home ruled by inconsistency and addiction,” notes Kendall Williams. “My mom took me to church, and it was there that I learned Jesus died to pay for my sin. I accepted Christ and knew that I was saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), but I had an underlying belief that if I did enough good things for God, my dad would notice and accept Christ too.
“A pressure to perform grew as I entered high school. I felt like an outsider, so I tried to fit in. I knew a life with Jesus was better, but I didn’t want to look set apart from the people around me. I sought attention from guys. I fought for my father’s approval through success in sports. I sought identity in my appearance which led to an unhealthy obsession with food and working out.
“After high school, I decided to attend Texas Tech. I went to church to meet friends, but my first year of college felt so isolating. I knew there had to be more to life than what I was experiencing. The school year came to a quick halt when addiction and financial problems started to affect my family. It felt like our world was crumbling, and I made the decision to move home. I felt completely out of control and helpless.
“As I returned to the chaos of home, I started going to The Porch, the young adult ministry at Watermark. I attended The Porch years before, and remembered it being a place marked by authenticity. I was living a life of isolation, but deep down I knew I needed to be surrounded by other Christians. Around this time, an acquaintance named Payton reached out over social media and invited me to a college ministry retreat with Watermark.
“A week before the retreat, Payton and I went to The Porch together. After the service, I met other college students who asked about my life and my faith. They intentionally took time to know me and welcome me. On my drive home that night, I was moved to tears because I had never experienced such intentionality and kindness before. There was something radically different about these people.
“At the college retreat the next weekend, I experienced the goodness of God through His people. I heard students tell stories of how Jesus had changed their lives. They confessed sin without shame and explained how Jesus had healed their brokenness. I saw people delight in the Lord in a way that dramatically affected everything about how they lived and how they loved (Psalm 37).
“I was craving more of the abundant life that I’d seen in those students. I knew what it was like to feel alone with an aching desire for something more. The Lord kindly showed me that He wants to offer me life to the full (John 10:10). I returned to Dallas and started evaluating what it would mean for me to wholeheartedly pursue Jesus.
“I learned that God made us for relationships, so I became a Member at Watermark and joined a community group. I had a consistent group of other female Christ followers who encouraged me to pursue Jesus. Instead of living in isolation, I was fully known and fully loved by the Lord and by my faithful friends. I found freedom to grieve how sin had hurt me and my family. The Lord gave me peace that surpassed understanding (Philippians 4:7) and remained consistent despite my circumstances.
“The Lord continued to reveal His plan of redemption to me through incredible changes in my family. Last year, my dad accepted Jesus as his savior. Both of my parents found healing because of Christ. Through Jesus, my family went from broken and confusing to redeemed. It wasn’t according to my timeline and it wasn’t because of me.
“Through this process, the Lord taught me the blessing of waiting. I believe God was softening my heart as I waited to see redemption in my family. I’m so thankful that the Lord has let me see the fruition of waiting for my dad. I know not everyone gets to experience that celebration, but I’m thankful God has graciously allowed me to see my dad trust Christ.
“Ultimately, I have learned that waiting is an act of surrender. I struggled with waiting because I was trying to build my own kingdom on my timeline while pursuing my selfish agenda. However, I am reminded that the Lord isn’t slow to keep His promises (2 Peter 3:9). If waiting wasn’t part of God’s design, I wouldn’t have been able to come to know Him. He’s shown me that He is committed to the work He began in us through the waiting.
“This year, the Lord has given me an opportunity to be a Resident in the Institute at Watermark. I’m learning to clearly explain to others how a relationship with Jesus changed my life and why the Bible can be trusted (1 Peter 3:15). Because Christ loves me, I want every single interaction I have with those around me to be one that is full of hope, grace, and truth.”