I was having a conversation last week with some friends, all of whom agreed that they would not be in Dallas if they had not felt God specifically leading them here. When you take into consideration “the way Dallas is”, this is not surprising. Who would want to live here? It’s a hard city to live in, from a mental aspect. Most of us are here because of work or marriage or ministry.
Dallas is one of the most materialistic cities in America. One of the most conspicuously consumptive, the least environmentally friendly,and the most isolated – people live gated, and try to avoid talking to one another on anything but a very shallow level. Looks are everything. I learned this the first time I attempted to go to the grocery store in sweats. That is not considered acceptable in Dallas, and you better have some makeup on as well. I have friends who teach in schools where children get plastic surgery before they are 18, and this is not considered shocking or unusual.
Sunday at church Todd spoke about how Dallas, as a city, has no reason for being as affluent as it is – no major port, never had any major trains coming in, no natural resources that would cause business to be so financially successful here. Just a lot of people who are hell-bent on making a ton of money and they want to make sure everyone knows it. What’s addictive here is the lifestyle – when everyone around you has that mindset, it can be hard to see reality sometimes. It’s hard to get past the way things look, it is so integrated into everyday life. You can imagine how hard it is for most churches to survive, when no one feels comfortable telling anyone else what’s really going on, because it might shatter the facade, take away their credibility, their career, their reputation as someone who “has it all together”. In Dallas, individuality is not honored, affluence and power are.
We are so blessed to have Watermark in this city. For a lot of people I know, including Christian and I, it’s the only reason we can stand to live here. As a group of people, this community is an oasis of authenticity in a city where everything is fake. We get together in different sizes of groups throughout the week and talk about our “stuff”. I have seen businessmen who make millions stand up in Celebrate Recovery and introduce themselves as someone who struggles with pornography. I have seen well-known mothers and leaders in the community talk about their eating disorders and how they struggle to honor their husbands in their marriage. In the people of Watermark, it’s the opposite of Dallas – the ones who lead are those who are willing to be the most vulnerable, to admit their problems and talk about how God is changing them.
I have seen this approach of opposites be proved very true in Celebrate Recovery – every time I can tell my small group of girls honestly about the ways I am struggling that week, confess the areas I need God to work on me, I can see that this authenticity inspires them far more than if I were preaching or explaining some kind of recovery theory from the perspective of someone who has it all figured out. That would be a lie anyway – no one is ever finished recovering, it’s an ongoing process. God uses people and His Word, and I am really thankful that we are in this community where those 2 things are so important. Even if we are in Dallas…