“Do I trust God is good even if the things I plan don’t turn out the way I had hoped? That’s the question I have been wrestling with over the last few years,” said Destinee Valadez. “Every time I’m faced with adversity, I have two options: I can be filled with worry and anxiety and concern myself with what other people think, or I can seek God first, and allow my response to be informed by His Word. At 25 years old, it’s a daily battle to trust God in all things.
“For the last couple of years, I have worked as a teacher – an interest I’ve had since I was a child. I grew up going to private schools in Southern California and worked hard to get good grades and fit in. I cultivated the image of a good girl when I was a teenager, seeking popularity and living out the life I saw played out on TV. I was a believer, but also tried to control the approval of others and what I wanted life to be.
“After college, I moved to Frisco and didn’t know many people. I wanted to find a local body of believers full of people my age, and I found The Porch online. I started plugging in here at Watermark and was so encouraged that everything that was shared from the stage was grounded in Scripture. God started the process of transforming me by the renewing of my mind. (Romans 12:2)
“Rather than binge-watching TV – a habit I felt convicted about – I listened to messages from The Porch. I heard a sermon about seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and started taking my relationship with Christ more seriously. I spent more time in God’s Word and my faith grew stronger.
“After college, I hoped to get a teaching job immediately. Instead, I faced roadblock after roadblock. I did my teaching education and testing in California, only to find out that California’s tests did not apply in Texas. I continued to search for a job in Frisco, and ultimately ended up working as a substitute teacher for a while because I hadn’t passed the science portion of my testing yet. I felt confused and questioned what the Lord was doing with my life.
“I reached out to Watermark through an email and was connected with Ally Wall and Liz McKee, who are part of The Porch, to answer my questions. They pointed out that even though I believed Christ died for all of my sins, I was trying to earn His love through my performance. They reminded me of John 5:24 and the truth that we are saved solely by believing in Christ.
“I’d always been the ‘good girl’ at school and strived to earn praise from my teachers, but that’s not what I found when I began my career in full-time teaching. The expectations were so different from what I thought they would be, and that was scary. The conflict-ridden interactions with school leaders and other families were difficult to navigate. The Lord was faithful to encourage me and bring people into my life who spoke truth, and that was a blessing.
“As I continued to wrestle with the challenges of being a first-year teacher, I decided to go to re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. I learned so much about the benefits of looking at my own sin patterns and what it looks like to trust God through trials and difficulties. When I would feel scrutinized and nit-picked at work, I learned to respond with respect and a forgiving heart. I learned how to avoid comparing myself to others, especially more experienced coworkers. No matter how many years I had been teaching, God put me in that classroom with those specific children for a reason. And in Christ, I could bring my best to the classroom every day.
“As I continued to plug in and serve at Watermark, I became more interested in fulltime ministry. I applied to the Watermark Institute but was not accepted on my first try and returned to teaching for another year. I wanted to be part of the Institute so badly, but the Lord still had more to show me in my career as a teacher. I learned more about being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12) Whether I was interacting with a coworker that was hard to work with or a kid who needed extra attention, I looked to God’s Word, and specifically the stories of Joseph and Joshua, for strength and encouragement.
“The second time I applied to the Watermark Institute, I was accepted, and I am excited to see how the Lord develops my gifts over the coming year. I was sad to tell the kids in my classroom that I would not be back to the school, but that also gave me the opportunity to share a bit of my story with the students. That was such a great opportunity, and yet another reminder that God’s timing is perfect. When I’m tempted to turn to anxiety or worry if others approve, I can take confidence in the truth that God’s ways are higher than mine and I can always trust Him to make my path straight.”