Written By Michelle Lai, Singapore
In the second half of 2015, I was appointed cell group leader in my university’s Christian Fellowship (CF). It was my first time serving as cell group leader, so I took on the role excitedly.
Shortly into my new role, however, I developed a crush on one of my cell group members; he was also a leader serving in the CF as well as in church.
It started off innocently, with me seeking his advice on cell group matters and spending time with him to learn how to plan Bible studies. It was my first time doing many things and I really appreciated his help.
But as the days went by, thoughts of him would creep into my mind as I planned cell group meetings. I realized it was distracting me from serving other group members. That’s when I knew I had to ask myself some tough questions. Was I spending a disproportionate amount of time with him at the expense of other members? Had I become too engrossed in looking out for and listening to him during meetings? Was I giving him priority over other members, like shifting our outings to another day just because he couldn’t make it?
I have heard of cell group leaders dating their members, but I knew that in my case, it was not the right time for me to consider a relationship as I was also balancing other commitments like work and school.
As I became more aware of my struggle, I became increasingly moody. What do cell group leaders do when they have a crush on their members? I decided to confide in one of my friends about this struggle. Unfortunately, due to some misunderstanding, we fell out when I felt that she was questioning my motive for serving and for doing things the way I did as a leader. It made me furious and upset.
For days, I wrestled with these emotions—till it reached a point when I felt numb. It was as if a plug was pulled from my heart; I felt emptiness. And as my heart “stopped”, my mind took over. Without the heart, the mind is a cold thing. I could do the things I needed to do, but I found that I had dark thoughts. I formed negative thoughts about others. I became calculative. Even though I continued to attend CF sessions and do my quiet time, I felt far from God.
But the deliberate and conscious decision to keep reading God’s Word, worshiping Him, and immersing myself in His community had an effect on me. During a CF worship event one day, the worship leader sang the song, “Divine Exchange” by Lara Martin. As I listened to the lyrics, I felt convicted in my heart and mind to leave all my burdens at the foot of the cross. I let go of all the tiredness and numbness I had been feeling, and at that moment, I was able to enjoy the presence of God. A sense of relief and peace entered my heart and slowly, my emotions came back.
Over time, I got over my crush on my cell group member. He stopped being a distraction and I no longer had to struggle between how I felt and what I needed to do at every meeting. I also cleared the air with the friend whom I confided in, and forgave her for hurting my feelings.
Through this episode, I learned the importance of obeying and worshiping God even when He seems to be far away or when I don’t feel like it. Worship and love for God is not merely a feeling—it is a deliberate and conscious choice we need to make on a daily basis. I am glad I learned to lay all my thoughts and feelings at His feet instead of struggling to fix them on my own.