We were all sitting in an apartment living room, crowded together on chairs, couches and the floor. We met together once a week for months and months. Our time together was typically followed by some late night grub at the local Applebee’s. I usually went for the mozzarella sticks. I had been praying alone in my dorm for just a group like this one.

I desperately wanted a solid group of Christian friends around the age of 19. I had grown a lot in my faith since getting baptized at 16, but knew some Christian peers would make a significant difference in my heart. I prayed and asked God to provide.

Soon after, I was invited to my church’s young adult small group. Nervously, I went. For about the first 2-3 months, as soon as the “spiritual” discussion began, I would go silent. Thoughts swirled around my mind like a whirlwind, “They know so much more than me.” “What do I have to offer to the conversation?” “Who would listen to me anyways?”

I knew I wanted to speak up and it was driving me crazy. I eventually told one of my friends to call me out if I didn’t say anything during the next group. I was so afraid that my friend was going to embarrass me that the next group I finally opened my mouth. After that point, it was almost like I never stopped talking in group!

We did a particular study that rocked my world. The group read a book on spiritual gifts and it was a pretty foreign concept to me. As I read, and learned, and chatted, I gained so much clarity on why I had certain tendencies.

I had always seen myself as a sensitive, non-competitive, mushy gushy person and often wished I was tough, in your face and bold. But as I studied with others by my side, I learned I had the spiritual gift of mercy and things started to make sense. Things started clicking and I began to appreciate more of the way I was wired.

It was a game changer for me! I felt freedom to be more and more of who I was and to live that out daily. I had the opportunity to show people love through mercy, essentially meaning to empathize with their situation, to see them as an individual with a story and to offer compassion.

And ten years later, I’m a counselor. Imagine that! I’m thankful God led me to the group, to the study and to a career that helps my gift flourish. And as Paul encourages me to do in Romans 12, I have this great opportunity to show mercy, in a cheerful way!

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
April Jean
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  1. Diane on September 7, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    It’s so fun to have that God-validation thing, right? That you were made all twisty and turn-y and mercy-filled – unlike anyone else in all of creation. Love that you found yourself – just think what God can do with that!!!!

  2. Gretchen Hanna on September 7, 2016 at 9:12 PM

    Wow, April! This is so cool. I love that you found your gifting and are living it, rather than thinking you should be someone else. So great that you were open and obedient to God’s gentle leading, rather than our worldly “shoulding”.

  3. Tara on September 10, 2016 at 2:46 PM

    Love that story April, I can see that you have the gift of help and hope.
    Love that God patiently and steadfastly leads us.

  4. Jen on September 13, 2016 at 2:07 PM

    I loved watching you make this journey and have always appreciated your merciful and gentle spirit. 🙂

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