Written by: Kayla Beghtol
For the first 19 years of my life, my testimony had a strong focus on how I felt like I had to grow by myself as a Christian. How my walk with Jesus seriously lacked Godly community. I was the only consistent attender at my church’s youth group, my small town had few Christians my age, and I could never find Christian friends who would encourage me in my faith. I just felt alone. Which was hard and discouraging because I knew that God calls us to live in community as Christians.
Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” And I truly wanted that! I wanted to live that out. Sadly, though, I felt that I didn’t even have the resources that I needed in order to really grow in my relationship with Christ with encouragement and support from a Godly community. It was hard always feeling like the outsider. I always felt like I was the only one who didn’t actually want to be included in gossip or conversations that weren’t uplifting. I felt like I was the one who always had a different perspective, or the one who had different priorities in life. Satan used those feelings to make me doubt. That, coupled with the voices of those I was around, made pursuing obedience to God very difficult.
After a lot of mistakes and lessons learned, I had the opportunity to work at a summer camp, fresh out of my freshman year in college! That experience led to so much of what I was longing for. I was overwhelmed by how many new Christian friends I gained that summer! Peers who actively pursued Christ and wanted to encourage their friends to grow alongside them in faith.
Like all summers do, that one ended. But that summer changed me. After experiencing what Godly community looks and feels like, I knew I could never be without it again. So I went back to school and found an amazing church that had a strong focus on community and discipleship. I started by attending the Wednesday night College Connect group with my roommate! That group led me in being interested in what it looks like to be discipled. From that, I got connected with someone and began to get discipled. We dove into Scripture weekly and that was such a blessing and so helpful to me in my spiritual growth!
Based upon my discipler’s recommendation, I signed up for a women’s summer study with some of the female members of the church. I’m very excited about this new opportunity and for the opportunity to be able to hear wisdom and encouragement from those older, and certainly wiser, than me. I’m also included in a college summer study that discusses young adult topics and challenges, and learning how to handle these situations as a believer.
Looking back on my spiritual growth before I was surrounded by a Christian community, I see so many struggles, heartbreak, and confusion. Although I would oftentimes pray for wisdom and guidance, the process of gaining those attributes was difficult. I didn’t have Christian companions who would bear my burdens and pray with me, which took a serious toll on my heart and endurance.
However, I can now see how God moved in subtle ways in my life in that time. He taught me to be completely reliant on Him rather than in my relationships, and even in myself.
Now that I have a community of Christ-pursuing friends and mentors who I confidently trust, I find myself frequently turning to them for advice and wisdom. Wisdom that they happily share and that I know, whether I like it or not, has the intent of glorifying God and leading me to a path of continued growth.
Because of this journey, I more confidently follow God’s commands, and trust that He is guiding me to resources and situations that are the absolute best for me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy for God’s provision in the process of leading me to a community that has equal care for one another, bears each other’s burdens, and rejoices together (1 Corinthians 1:10)!
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