“When I went to college, my desire for acceptance and affirmation from my parents shifted to seeking affirmation from guys in my life,” said Summer Powell. “This created a deep codependency. I felt like I needed to do things to be loved by men. I developed many behaviors for the acceptance of others rather. I was still going to church throughout college, but the contrasting parts of my life made everything feel so messy.
“I ended up getting a job as a teacher, and although I was doing what I always dreamed, for the first time I felt really lost. In this new season of life, I became friends with a married couple. Our growing friendship and lack of boundaries led to an affair with the husband one weekend while the wife was out of town. Now, I can see it was my need for acceptance taken to the extreme. I remember feeling so empty after realizing what I did and thinking, ‘This is something that I will never tell anyone.’
“I sat in a lot of guilt and shame for a long time about the affair. I was running and hiding with this lie. I was so sad, and though it wasn’t clear to me, it was abundantly clear to those around me. One of my coworkers who recognized my sadness recommended Watermark. She knew a lot of young adults attended and thought it would be a good place for me.
“When I went to Watermark, I sat in the back row. I felt so stuck and cried so hard during the service. When the message ended, a guy introduced himself to me and invited me to hang out with some of his friends.
“Over a few hangouts, I felt like I really had a place where I belonged, but I was still holding on to my secret. I was so worried and continuously thought, ‘What if they find out about my past?’
“My new friends started asking me if I’d thought about re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. In my mind, I thought it wasn’t for me. I didn’t need ‘recovery.’ I created this façade even to myself that I was doing fine. My secret was wearing me down. After three different friends casually suggested re:generation, I decided to attend.
“At first, I was so blind. I thought I didn’t struggle with anything. When I was asked to tell my story, I couldn’t even form words. I came back reluctantly the next week, and the Lord immediately started to pull back layers to show me how I needed Him. I was performing to be accepted and finding identity in all the wrong things.
“I realized I had to confess my adultery out loud to the Lord and others. When I finally confessed in a group, no one even flinched. They didn’t respond the way I expected. They weren’t fazed and simply responded with grace. It was the first time I believed the gospel to be true for me. Previously, I thought my mistakes held me back from God’s love.
“That was a defining moment for me. Confessing my sin and trusting God still loves me was life changing. It was the first time I didn’t need anyone’s approval. The discipline of confession exposed to me my sin struggles of misplaced identity, insecurity, and pride.
“The first part of my story was finding my identity in Christ, and the second part seems to be walking out what I believe as the storms come. As I walked with the Lord, the focus of my faithfulness was more about abiding in the Lord. I got married at 38, and shortly after, my husband, Justin, and I gave birth to our son.
“At the end of 2019, I found out my father, who was not a believer in Christ, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I watched his health decline over the next year. In that same season, my husband and I experienced two miscarriages back-to-back. The last stretch of 2020 was a season saturated with the loss of two babies and pleading for more time with and the salvation of my father. I remember wrestling with the Lord and believing His goodness but still experiencing so much grief and fear. While I got to be there as my dad accepted Christ shortly before his death, it was one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever had to walk through.
“Every time someone would reach out and ask how I was, I didn’t know how to explain it other than I had peace. The Lord was just with me, and there was a sense of calm in the storm. The word ‘kept’ really stuck with me. I felt very kept by the Lord. In a season where I would’ve felt numb or dry or thirsty, I didn’t (Jeremiah 17:7-8). I already had experienced seasons of becoming rooted in God’s Word, so I wasn’t scrambling to figure out what I believe or who God is when it was hard. God gives us access to Him through His Word and fellowship to trust Him in an intimate, personal relationship. I may never understand why things happen the way they do, but God prepared me so that when the storm came, I was rooted.”