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Resting in purpose

By Victoria Rosa-Garcia

Founder of PLH & Author of Purity + Peace Women's Bible Study


It's been six years since this journey began. Our church started rolling out the small group model, a framework that enables a large church congregation to provide relational intimacy with other church members by splitting us into focus groups categorized by theme/interests/topics/location.


I never wanted to be a small group leader. I had entered Cornerstone Christian Center in Milford, CT in the Fall of 2013. I was looking for a nice big church where I could hide in the back and not be noticed. That strategy worked for a good while.


Isn't it funny how we like to hide when we are hurt?

So I hid. I hid my past accomplishments and gifts, and kept things very surface-level, until of course, I joined a small group. My first small group was led by sister Judy. She lived only a few blocks from me. Our first roll-out of small groups was done by location, so we were split up into a group closest to our homes. It was perfect and exactly what I needed. That group allowed me to be transparent and they loved me back to life. I also attended a pre-marital class with my husband, a 6-week study led by Pastor Alfred Watts, and that group course allowed me to shed even more layers of hurt.


After a while, I realized I didn't have to hide anymore.

Then, Pastor Watts asked me, "Victoria, when are you going to lead a small group?" I went home feeling challenged. So much so, I began writing a women's Bible study for a version of myself that needed strong community, transparency, love, and a safe space to heal. You see, at 26 years old I went through a bought of anxiety and depression that changed my life. My Christ-driven road to healing included therapy, medication, Godly community, Biblically-based books, and a local film acting course. Everything I learned from that season, I put into this tiny Bible study I wrote for the six women who signed up for our first Purity + Peace session.


That was six years ago. Since then, our ministry has grown to be hosted in over five churches, touched over 500 women, reached over 2000 listeners to the Pure Love Podcast, and has provided a safe space where men and women can heal from past wounds and hurts. Never did I ever think I would lead women's ministry. My dream was to be a famous worship leader who wrote hit worship songs and sang with my family band. That wasn't what happened though. Instead, I was gifted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to touch the lives of women all over the U.S. and help them find healing through Jesus Christ in community, Bible Study, and accountability.


Just beause things work out differently than we imagine, doesn't mean it has to be a disappointing path or ending.

Now, six years later, I find myself tired. I've poured my all into Pure Love and Health. I've trained leaders who were crazy enough (and anointed enough) to join this ride with me, hosted retreats, workshops, fellowship lunches, brunches, and purity ceremonies; launched a podcast, and have been a guest speaker on panels and podcasts— all while working a 9-5 job, being a wife, leading a women's ministry at church, doing giving talks and preaching, and counseling God's people whenever I can. Oh, let me not forget that I had 2 consistent mentees who partook in the Pure Mentoring program. I held one-on-ones with them monthly for the past two years.


There's so much that goes into the ministry that is unseen.

There's a humility that goes with leadership that requires so much of what we do to be unknown. People will never know the amounts of money given to struggling women or families that were in need over the past six years, the meal trains coordinated, the 3 a.m. phone calls, the countless direct message counseling sessions that took place on my social media channels (and they don't need to know). But the reality is, at the end of a 6-year run of pouring out, my mind, body, and spirit feel it, and I'm here to say as a human being, I am tired and I need to rest.

I am aware that I don't owe anyone an explanation for my life choices and what I do next in my journey, but I am also aware of the responsibility that leadership brings — and that's influence.

While I am technically a micro-influencer, the small number of individuals who have been impacted by our ministry and my leadership deserve an honest explanation of our next year's plan. While some leaders have no conviction about this and have gladly fallen off the radar with little to no explanation to their flock when they have decided to take a season of rest, I am not such a leader.


So what does 2023 look like for PLH?


It was confirmed that 2023 was a year of rest for me, or a year of Jubilee. If you don't know, the year of Jubilee in Jewish culture (Old Testament) occurred every 50 years. It was a year designated to rest, debts were cleared, slaves were set free, the land was to rest (no one farmed or grew crops on the land for one whole year!), and it was a year of celebration. You can find more information about it here or here.

So what does that mean?


It means that I stepped down from all of my ministry responsibilities to dedicate this next year to the Lord as Mary and not Martha. I'm going to sit at Jesus' feet and receive. I'm going to allow myself to be poured into. I am going to allow myself to be served instead of serving. I'm going to therapy. I will rest on days/during times I would normally be ministering. I will enjoy quality time with my husband. Enjoy my family. Fly to Florida and spend time with my family who experienced great loss in 2021. Recover from grief. Family plan. Fast heavily. Pray and do quiet times in a new way. Rediscover myself. Fall deeper in love with Jesus. And for once, embrace stillness without the need of perfectionism, performance, or productivity. I am going to allow Jesus to FILL me back up, because He's the only one who can and who should.


If I don't take the time to do these things now, it will inevitably affect the way I lead in the long-term future. Have you ever experienced or witnessed a leader serving from a place of burnout? It's not pretty. Actually, it's quite bitter. Frankly, I'm not willing to risk the reputation I have built with God's good work these long past few years because I didn't heed the red flags of burnout in my life, and oh ... are they ever so present!


Additionally, how could I preach on the topic of rest and not model it?


How do you plan to rest and be restored in 2023?

For those who have been on the go, go, go these past few years — you may also need to rest in the upcoming year. In fact, I've seen a huge shift in leadership across the various platforms from political, to religious, to corporate — ever since the death of Queen Elizabeth this year, which seemed to have catalyzed a shifting of mantles in the last two quarters of 2022. That means, for those who have been sitting down, or quietly preparing themselves in the past few years, it may be your turn to rise up, while others take a step down and rest. Just in my community: my church had an organizational restructure and ordained tons of new pastors, promoted one to Executive Pastor; a few new churches launched in my hometown this year with pastoral ordinations; on a larger scale: Pastor Tim Ross stepped down from his senior pastor role to pursue his podcast named the Basement; Hillsong is no longer the top worship-music feeder to America's worship list on Sunday mornings (it's a worship group called Maverick City if you haven't noticed) — and even my job is going through a huge restructure. I'm sure there are SO many more changes, we'd be here all day if we listed them all. I see the tides of change everywhere.


Be ready to accept the changes that are coming in 2023. Sheep don't like change. Sheep like consistency. But with change, comes opportunity.

Nevertheless, everyone should be resting in some manner in 2023. Whether you're deciding to honor the Sabbath in a more honest fashion (like actually resting on Sunday and not running around like crazy) or perhaps you're going to prioritize your ministry focus (some of you are involved in three-or-more ministries and that's not sustainable or wise, it's a sure way to burn out. You may need to reprioritize your ministry focuses and step down from the ones that aren't your God-given priority in 2023 because you're in disobedience if you don't), or stepping away from certain commitments for a time, this year is calling us to slow down and learn new things with grace. With all the change that is occurring, lots of us are in spaces, roles, and holding titles we've never had before. We are going to fail forward a lot, and that's ok! Failure is an opportunity to learn. As you make your lists for the new year, I pray resting is a resolution you intend to be faithful to.


Where does that leave us? In a new place!

This means the opportunity for you to find and lead a new community is available. This means I'm allowed to rest in 2023 without the pressure of having to do anything. This means we don't know what 2024 will bring. This means you get to ask the Lord where he wants you to serve and what community he's calling you to belong to in 2023. You get my drift! My husband and my family are my priorities this season. And while you may not understand, I pray you offer me (and our leadership team) the grace to rest and rejuvenate this next year.


My first ministry began with a blog.

From my teens well into my 20s, I blogged religiously. In one particular season, I wanted to launch an in-person women's Bible study group called The Well when I moved back to Connecticut from Florida. I planned the event, confirmed the location, sent invites, received RSVPs, and on the day of the event, no one showed up.


I cried.


I said, "God, why didn't anyone show up?," and He responded, "I asked YOU to show up, Vikki. I didn't ask them." Are you willing to show up when God calls you even if no one else shows up to support you?


That night, I ideated a new blog series entitled Testimony Tuesdays, where guest writers shared their true and honest testimonies with my blog audience. I posted these testimonials every Tuesday -- for a long time, and it was a hit. This season eventually propelled me into what we now know as PLH. While in the last decade I have not utilized my gift of writing, it felt right to end this chapter in honor of my first ministry.


Allow me to end with an altar call as I popularly do on my Instagram stories. It's a new season for PLH and while our mandate is to rest, yours might be quite different, and that's okay! Our God is a God of clarity and I'm believing that he will make his next steps extremely clear to you before this year ends. I will be praying for each and every person who has come through our small group sessions. You are all so special to me and I pray that you found healing and peace through Jesus Christ during our times together. It's time for a change. I pray your transition smoothly into yours.


Godspeed!

VRG


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Mrs Gaines
Mrs Gaines
Dec 10, 2022

Praise God. You sound good sis!!! I've been a ministry leader behind the scenes and I too had to step back and let God take full control. In my surrender, God has provided more than I could imagine. I witness miracles and breakthroughs right in my face. My testimony is much more powerful today than ever. I have no regrets doing life God's way. Enjoy your journey for 2023.

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Mrs Gaines
Mrs Gaines
Dec 10, 2022
Replying to

I can't forget to say thank you for serving in the season where God needed you to help me get victory. I felt so defeated for so long and with you in my life for the season you blessed me I finally felt like a winner.

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