Way before the new year started, and way before I went to Passion Conference, I decided to form a Bible study in my home. My friends who were there for me thought it was a good idea to keep myself busy and focus more on what God was trying to teach me through my hard time. My best friend was all for me being a leader of my own Bible study.
The only problem I had was that my church had already forbidden me from being an official small group leader, and I had to abide by the rules they set before me. Somehow I figured a way around it and become an “unofficial” leader.
My church started a series about most prophecies in the Old Testament pointing to Jesus in the New Testament. Each week, we looked at a specific passage and dove deep into what those passages meant and how they were relevant in our lives. I decided to use this series as a guide for in-depth discussions to help my friends understand more of Scripture and train them in more biblical knowledge.
I asked my friends if they’d be interested in meeting up every week to go over these messages, and everyone agreed to attend.
I even told most of my friends about my fears from my past and entering into this role as a small group leader, but they gave me words of encouragement, saying I was doing the right thing.
Attendance was pretty good the first couple weeks! About 8 to 10 people came to my tiny apartment, and I led them in discussion about the most recent message, challenging them to apply Scripture in their everyday life. Seeing their faces light up when something clicked and watching them participate in discussions brought joy to my heart, and all my worries slowly faded away.
As the weeks passed, a female friend entered my Bible study. I’d known her for a few years, and she knew that I struggled with same-sex attraction (SSA). She had strong leadership skills and a bubbly personality. She was very encouraging and a total extrovert.
We’d had a falling out two years prior, though we’d mended that relationship.
After knowing this woman for so long, I was a bit leery about her addition to my small group. She had great personal qualities, but she also had a tendency to manipulate a group of people to follow her and do what she wanted. Not only that, she was also a huge flaker.
Me being me, I always give people the benefit of the doubt. I thought the trial she’d previously endured had changed her heart, and she’d learned not to be manipulative, seeing the importance of being faithful in the long run.
But this person would be the one to end my small group, adding even more pain to my year of trials.
Weeks turned into months, and I could tell my friends were less interested in coming to my small group every week. At first I thought people started having busy schedules with work, school, or other engagements, but I received text messages from people saying they went to this woman’s house to do another Bible study on the same night.
My small group diminished until it was no more.
What I thought was a total “God thing” to help me through my life and financial crisis ended up being a big flop. I felt like a total failure, my mind reminded by all the stuff I’d endured when told I couldn’t become a leader because of my past.
I had to deal with that nightmare once again.
When my small group ended, my best friend was there to listen to me. He listened to how hurt I was and how upset I was by everything that went down. I wanted to confront this woman, but I couldn’t. Yes, there were opportunities to do that, but I’d always extended the benefit of the doubt to this person.
I’d hoped that God would show her how what she did really affected me in a bad way.
Nope, that never happened.
For a week, I tried calming my mind and emotions over everything: how much a failure I’d been as leader of a small group, how to get a job, and how to sell enough things to pay next month’s rent without reentering prostitution.
One day, I noticed something strange on my best friend’s social media account. This same female who’d ended my small group was in his picture hanging out. Another picture had her initials with a heart wrapped around them, along with a picture of him walking in the forest with her.
The thought popped into my head as my heart sank.
Have you ever started something, convinced of a “God thing,” only to watch it fail? What do you do when you feel like a total failure?