“If you were to ask me why I thought my life was good, I would have said it's because I made it that way,” said Jessa Feist.
“I grew up culturally and religiously Catholic, and thankfully learned at a young age some basic biblical truth about God. Whether it was from my church, my priests, or my grandmother, I learned God never changes and that He always loved me.
“But in middle school and high school, my identity wasn't set in any of that truth. I was so focused on what people thought of me, how good my grades were, how skinny I was, how my family appeared, and who I was dating.
“At sixteen, I experienced some tough trials back-to-back. When life started to fall apart, the things I based my identity on were just gone and my struggle with depression began. I was never mad at God for these trials, but I felt very lonely like I wasn’t important to anyone. I started to think that because I was the one who built my life up, I was the one that also did something to tear it down.
“Around this time, my good friend, Alex, told me about Jesus during lunch one day. I learned that a week before, someone shared the gospel with her using Romans 6:23, ‘For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life with Christ Jesus our Lord.’ She accepted Christ that day, and now she was sharing it with me.
“It was the first time I’d ever heard that somebody (the Lord of the universe) wanted to choose me. And it wasn’t because of anything I’d done. It was truly because of His grace and favor on me as His daughter. I accepted Him completely as the Lord and Savior of my life.
“For the rest of high school, I wanted to learn about Jesus, but I would never get beyond Leviticus when I tried to read the Bible. I desired to know God more deeply, but it was hard to grow on my own.
“Later, during my second week of college, I met a girl named Anna in the dining hall. She sat down and eventually shared Romans 6:23 with me. I recognized it and was intrigued. I've seen this before. She suggested we meet up and read the Bible together. One problem: I didn’t have a Bible! So, we immediately went and purchased one.
“This season of life was really tough. I was still fighting deep feelings of loneliness, and then sexual abuse happened for the second time in my life. I thought it was my fault, so I just didn’t tell anybody. But my new friend, Anna, cried with me. She didn’t have everything in life figured out, but she did show me how to read the Bible and how to trust the Lord with some of the hardest things in my life. She became a safe place because of the care she showed me. We ended up meeting every Thursday for the rest of my time in college.
“This is when I began really growing closer to the Lord through discipleship and spiritual disciplines – a rich season of sanctification. I once again realized God was personally choosing me. As I learned more about the Bible and what Christ had done for people, I understood why Anna and Alex both shared the gospel with me. If they both did that for me, I can do that for other people.
“Sharing God with others became what I wanted to do with my life. No matter what my job is or where I live, I decided I wanted to pour into people and show them the gospel. I want to see multiplication happen so disciples can continue making disciples. This desire led me to be on mission in South East Asia for five years, and then I ended up doing the Watermark Institute when I returned to the States.
“I learned so much biblical truth in these endeavors, but mostly I learned that the Lord is in full control of my life, not me.
“These days, I’m just trying to be faithful in every part of life – work, full-time school, serving. I am so grateful for my (now, kind of boring) life. Especially after traveling the world and having every day be so different, I am really living in the monotony of everyday faithfulness in my hometown, and it’s so sweet. Through amazing resources at Watermark, like The Porch and Courageous Hope, I have been given tools to pursue daily faithfulness.
“I am continually reminded that, from the very beginning, God was very clear about wanting to be with us daily. He comes to us, and He is the one that meets us. God genuinely is like a father who wants to have breakfast with us every morning before I leave for school. He wants to know me because I’m His daughter. And that makes me want to be faithful. I just pray that I see more of Him each day.”