“My life was a daily identity crisis. I looked for my value in anything I thought was fulfilling. My home life was plagued by divorce, drug addiction, and broken relationships, so I searched for stability and comfort in alcohol, porn, and accomplishments.” – Tim Smith
“My life was a daily identity crisis,” said Tim Smith. “I looked for my value in anything I thought was fulfilling. My home life was plagued by divorce, drug addiction, and broken relationships, so I searched for stability and comfort in alcohol, porn, and accomplishments. I found myself buried in disappointment because I looked for ‘nourishment’ where there was none.
“As addiction continued to destroy our home, I distanced myself from my family. I looked for my identity in football as I started to excel and receive the affirmation I always desired. After receiving several scholarship offers, I chose Baylor University. As a true freshman, I was touted for starting as center until an injury sidelined me. I was crushed when I was told I couldn’t play again.
“I searched for God because He had the ability to change my circumstances and heal me. But the Lord’s plans were much better, and I trusted Christ with my eternity during college. However, I saw God more like fire insurance. I continued seeking out my habitual vices, while still calling myself a Christian.
“I was dating a girl at the time, and I was very close with her family. My relationship with Tate was troubled, but her life was so stable that our challenges seemed unimportant. My last two years at Baylor, she was in North Texas for nursing school, so we attended church in Dallas. That’s when I started to see the Bible as a way to know and love the Lord, who graciously gave us His inspired Word. But full devotion to Christ meant I had to change dramatically, and ‘my way’ seemed more prosperous. Eventually, that was my downfall.
“Later, Tate and I got engaged, and I reluctantly agreed to go through Merge, a Watermark ministry for couples who are seriously dating or engaged. Fortunately, we met people there who were fully committed to following Jesus. There was something different about them, and I wanted to know more.
“Unfortunately, at a bachelor party just before the wedding, I did some stupid things that deeply hurt her. I felt convicted both about what I had done and about lying to Tate. When I confessed, Tate’s reaction leveled me. Trust was broken, and she didn’t want to marry me. I had become everything I had been exposed to growing up – exactly what I vowed I’d never do.
“At that point, I had lost everything. Tate and I shared vehicles, a dog, and we had cosigned on a condo. Fortunately, our community group leaders helped me handle this devastating loss in a God-honoring way. I’m not sure what would have happened if I wasn’t surrounded by solid Christians.
“My community of friends recommended that I get into biblical recovery, so I stumbled through the doors of re:generation at Watermark. Through that ministry, I met broken, imperfect people who loved Jesus and followed Him in a way I had never seen. God also connected me with a group of men who became integral to my recovery in Christ – from my community group guys, to my re:gen leaders, to my mentor, Jeremy West.
“Before recovery in Christ, I saw God as a policeman in the sky, waiting for me to do something wrong. I learned that God is my Heavenly Father who sent His Son to die so my joy may be complete. (John 15:11) I searched for that joy in all the wrong places. The Lord gave it to me through faith in Him.
“God changed every aspect of my life – from how I spent my time to my entire friend group. I knew I needed to make amends with Tate for the hurt I’d caused her. We’d been apart for a year, and when we met together she could tell something was different. She graciously extended forgiveness for all the harm I’d done. She had started going through the same biblical recovery process as well. As we worked the steps, we had a growing interest in each other. But we didn’t want to muddy the waters until we both completed the 12th step in recovery.
“By God’s grace, our relationship went from terrible to completely restored in Christ. The Lord showed me how to love others the way He calls us to. God’s plan all along was to restore my life and make my heart fully His. That would have been enough. But God also brought two sinners together whose only hope was in Christ alone. I married Tate on July 8, 2017.
“In addition to providing me new friends and family, the Lord also connected me with the Watermark Institute, a discipleship and training ministry equipping people for vocational ministry. As a Fellow at Watermark, I am being discipled by incredible servant leaders and learning how to be a minister of reconciliation and fully obedient to God’s Word. I serve on the community and connecting teams, and am discovering more about making disciples and helping people pursue an abiding relationship with Christ in the context of community.
“Today, no matter how my circumstances change, I trust in our unchanging God. He keeps me from being anxious about the future, or my next dollar, or my career. Things are not perfect, but God comforts me in moments of fear and worry. He has provided so much healing, freedom, and redemption; how could I not trust Him?”
We are now accepting applications for the Watermark Institute (Fellowship and Residency Programs) for 2018–2019. The purpose of the Watermark Institute is to provide biblical training and real-life ministry experience. Applications are due on February 1, 2018. Check out watermark.org/institute.