Like a lot of young adults, Tony and Sara Sargent tried to find happiness in their lives by striving for perfection and the approval of others. When they surrendered their lives to Christ and received His love, they found freedom and peace. Their stories of grace serve as reminders of God’s fulfilling and perfect love.
Tony: “Growing up, I went to church because my friends went. I considered myself a Christian but didn’t really understand what it meant to have a relationship with God. I simply looked the part. No matter what it was – church or sports – I was always seeking approval from others.
“I used sports as a catalyst to get noticed. The more I found success in sports, especially golf, the more people recognized me, liked me, and looked up to me. When golf didn’t work out in college, I felt like I lost my identity. I quickly began seeking fulfillment in another sport and moved to Utah to train as a competitive speed skater.
“I competed in the Olympic Trials but didn’t make the team. Eventually I moved to Dallas through my working career in college athletics. I continued living for myself, seeking attention from others, and making stupid decisions, while still calling myself a Christian. I convinced myself it was a normal way of life. I twisted Scriptures like Psalm 37:4, thinking if I kept going to church, God would give me exactly what I wanted like success and wealth.
“A friend and former speed skating colleague of mine spoke one night at the Porch, Watermark’s young adult ministry. As we were talking, he introduced me to someone on staff at Watermark, and I mentioned how I had been church hopping around Dallas. We parted ways, and the staff member encouraged me to commit to one local church.
“I took his advice and joined Watermark as a Member. I started investing a lot of my time studying the Bible. It was such an amazing pivot in my life. With my growing dependence on God’s Word, I started to see Psalm 37:4 very differently. It was true that if I sought the Lord, He would give me my desires, but now the desires of my heart completely changed. The life I had been striving for was pointless compared to a life honoring Christ.
“I stopped trying to manage my life the way I thought was best, and for the first time, I surrendered everything to the Lord. As my relationship with Jesus grows, so does my desire to serve others and be a better steward of the gifts God has given me.
“God has been faithful through Scripture and has been my guide as I strive to continuously love Sara the way Christ loved the church. Parenting Blake takes love and service to another level. It can feel overwhelming at times but knowing God’s perfect love and faithfulness brings a peace that I have never felt before.”
Sara: “I grew up in a Christian home and trusted in God at a young age. However, my rule following and people pleasing tendencies led me to become a slave to success. I found my worth in accomplishments and approval of others. For years I struggled with perfectionism, and the anxieties and emotions that came with it. I hid my feelings for fear of what others would think of the real, broken, imperfect me. I didn’t let people in, and I was convinced I could fix myself to find happiness.
“As a young adult, I went to church, and I felt a peace I couldn’t describe. I thought eternal life sounded amazing, but how did I deserve it? When I moved to Dallas, a Watermark Member asked me on a scale from one to ten how certain I was that I’d go to Heaven. I answered ‘four.’ She explained to me that if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). I will never forget the feeling of the burden being lifted when I accepted this truth. For my entire life, I had been so focused on worldly things that I had completely robbed myself of a true understanding of the gospel.
“Life didn’t suddenly become easy and perfect after this, but I did experience a freedom and peace in Christ that I had not felt before. I’ve learned that God has an unconditional love for me even when I fall short; I don’t have to be perfect for Him. I don’t have to be perfect to go to Heaven.
“Understanding God’s free gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) has helped me feel comfortable being authentic with others, especially in marriage. Marriage and motherhood are blessings in my life, but admittedly, they can be very hard. I’ve learned that it is okay to be vulnerable and that being authentic with others is a healthy first step to find healing. God’s steadfast, perfect love for me does not depend on my perfection because His faithful love endures forever (Psalm 136).”