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The Gift of Discipleship

When I first made my decision to go to Garden College, I was mildly terrified. I knew it was a discipleship school, that I would have a coach, and that it was supposed to help me become closer to God—something I desperately desired. It was that second fact that made me nervous. A coach?

Being adept at creating incredible, highly unlikely imaginary scenarios, I really ran with that particular talent as my worries took over—are they going to look into my eyes when we meet together and magically see all the nasty inside? Visions of Dwight Schrute from the show The Office standing on his desk—heaped with shame—holding the sign proclaiming “Liar” assaulted my imagination. Will this be a similarly horrible, uncomfortable situation, in which the most shadowy, hidden parts of myself are brought into the light for all the world to see, and I never, ever, EVER recover from the shame and mortification? (There’s the “highly unlikely” part of the imaginary scenarios I mentioned) Somehow I mustered up the necessary courage and trusted those who had proven to be trustworthy voices in my life when they encouraged me to take the step and go. It’s been almost a year on this journey, and my actual experience with discipleship has been very different from the many fear-laced scenarios I created in my mind. 

Not only was I never once shamed for or made to share things I wasn’t ready to, but the thing that has surprised me the most in this discipleship journey is that God isn’t interested in turning me into a perfect robot or evangelizing machine. My discipleship journey has looked more like Him bringing healing to hurting areas of my heart and taking burdens off me that I didn’t even realize I’d been carrying. It has looked like conversations with my coach where she gently reminds me that I am not the Savior and that trying to take His place will not work out very well for me. I expected that He or my coach would ask me to do really hard things or things way outside my comfort zone. There have been uncomfortable things, but it has been things like learning how to rest when everything within me wants to work, trusting God to lead me when my hands itch to take the reins myself, and choosing to sit in silence and uncomfortable emotions because they have a way of bringing hidden things to the surface. He’s been far more interested in fully capturing my heart than commanding me to do “good works” for Him, which almost feels sacrilegious.

 I recently described this whole experience of growing closer to the Father in a discipleship community as “the sweetest torment.” Because, on the one hand, the Lord is bringing up things that—in my humble, human opinion—He has no business bringing up and stirring waters that have no business being stirred up. Still, on the other hand, I can see the peace that is coming to rest on me more fully as He has His way with me. I can feel Him bringing dead things back to life in my heart. I am walking in greater freedom than I’ve probably ever known, even though it feels like I’ve got miles and miles to go. Being in community ensures that I am accountable to what I have revealed to them—the things I feel like He’s asking me to do, where He’s leading me, the truth that He has been teaching me. 

When you’re walking this road by yourself, it’s far too easy to rationalize your way out of obedience or forget all the significant breakthroughs you’ve already had. In a discipling relationship, there is someone to be a witness to this hard and holy work of connecting to your Creator. That’s important because it reminds us that this is real. This isn’t some fanciful spirituality or positive thinking—we are building the bedrock for the relationship that changes everything. It makes all the difference to have someone who’s a couple of steps ahead of you on this lifelong journey.

Leah Fachini
Leah Fachini
My name is Leah Fachini, I’m married and have 3 boys who keep me on my toes! I like a lot of things, but uninterrupted conversations, yummy food, and long walks are some of my favorites.

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