“My siblings and I were raised with all the facts about Jesus and the church since day one. My parents set the foundation of Christ really well for our family. When I was in eighth grade, I heard the gospel very clearly in church and responded in faith for the first time.
“I was trapped in a performance-based cycle for years, thinking that the Lord’s approval of me was based on what I did. If I had a great day, the next day would be great, and the Lord approved of me. If I didn’t do well or stumbled, the next day, I was very mad at myself until I did better. A cycle of struggling with lust and performance continued throughout high school and into college.
“It wasn’t until I was reading a book on Romans during my sophomore year of college that I truly understood the heart of the gospel. The Lord used Romans 3:21-26 to break the performance cycle in my life as I understood the reality of being justified by faith in Jesus. I felt a physical weight of guilt leave my shoulders, and I have not been the same since that day. I learned I didn’t have to pay for my sins. Jesus paid that price in full (Romans 3:24-25).
“Later, after marrying my wife, we expected our life would play out ‘normally.’ We thought we’d go to college, get married, and then have kids. After having trouble getting pregnant, we tried fertility treatments for over a year. That was a tough time for us in our marriage. One week before COVID shut the world down, we got the final news that we would not be able to have kids biologically.
“That was a heavy hit for us, both individually and as a couple. We spent six months in online counseling, trying to deal with the impact of this news and trying to gain a better perspective. I realized I had been placing an expectation of a perfect life for myself on the Lord. I was attaching the quality of God’s character to my circumstances. I had to learn that God’s goodness transcends life circumstances. His provision and care for His people are always present, no matter what our lives look like.
“At this time, we felt very isolated as a couple. As the pastor on staff for young married couples at our church, I watched young family after family get pregnant and have babies. Knowing this couldn’t happen for us hurt. It was tough. I started to put on a mask to look happy all the time. I didn’t feel like I could experience the reality of our hardship as a pastor and church leader.
“I was eventually asked to start a monthly young adult gathering at our church, and through this process, I ended up visiting Watermark for the Church Leaders Conference. I wasn’t looking for any change in my life, I just wanted to learn more about Watermark’s young adult ministry.
“Through a message at CLC, I was reminded of three things that have not changed despite any circumstances: God’s Word, God’s character, and God’s mission. I experienced church in a way I hadn’t before throughout the conference. I realized I believed the same things as the people I was meeting, but they were living differently. They took the Bible very seriously. I learned about church members living in community with each other and being so open and authentic. I was relearning what church ministry could be. It just felt so different, and I really wanted to be a part of it.
“I also heard about Shiloh, a ministry at Watermark for families experiencing infertility. It showed me that there was a place for people like me and my wife in this church community.
“After that week, my wife and I decided I should apply for the Watermark Institute. That also meant us moving to Dallas from Boston. We knew there was already a biblical community of other couples who were going through similar situations as us. I didn’t want us to be isolated anymore and wanted to put our marriage first.
“My time in the Institute was everything I had hoped for. I probably hadn’t read in-depth through Romans since that one book years ago, and it was awesome to dive back in during the Institute. It was so transformational for me and my faith, and it was a great reminder of the gospel that I need to preach daily to myself.
“I have learned through all of this that God is committed to my good – and not the good that I expect. I have experienced continual growth as I’ve continued to submit myself to Him. He is committed to conforming me to the image of Christ and making me look like Jesus in every circumstance.”