I grew up in an extremely small town in eastern Kentucky. Everyone knew everyone, regardless of where you went. Running to the grocery store or to get dinner meant being prepared to run into 5 or 6 people you knew; that’s how it was. I never knew loneliness in a town that small.
Growing up, my family and I went to church on various occasions; holidays and different seasons of life. Ultimately, I knew who Jesus was. I had heard the stories of the Bible that you learn about in Sunday school so I thought I knew Jesus. Finally, in eighth grade I accepted Christ into my life and I thought, “Great! Life is going to be amazing now! I’ve done everything I need to do.” Up until that point in my short life I thought that that was all that needed to be done. I was saved, therefore I was safe. I continued living out my normal life, being surrounded by my normal friends, all who knew I was a Christian so sharing my faith wasn’t necessary. In these months and years I grew stagnant in my walk, assuming because I had checked the box of being saved everything else would fall into place.
Years later, I left for my freshman year of college at the University of Kentucky. It had been a dream of mine forever and finally it was being fulfilled. Little did I know, God had that planned long before the thought ever entered my mind. My time at UK began my life and walk with Christ as my savior, friend, and Father.
The first three months of freshman year were the longest, loneliest months of my life. From going back home every other weekend to spending Friday and Saturday nights alone in my dorm, I was struggling to find friendship, which is what my heart was craving the most. The weeks leading up to midterms felt like years.
I knew this was my dream, but I was living a nightmare. I turned to my mom for advice, explaining I had no other choice but to drop out and come home. She shared with me that she didn’t think this is where my story at UK ended. With her encouragement, I decided to stay and try my hardest to make new friends. I decided to join a sorority; it would be a great opportunity to find what I was missing. Notice, not once did I lean on God or reach out to Him during my heartbreak. I never once put my faith and trust in Him to take care of the situation; I was going to fix it myself.
After joining my sorority I decided to pour my whole self into it. All of my time and energy was now being split between school, sorority, and my newfound friends. I did it! I accomplished exactly what I set out to do, except that it didn’t feel fulfilling like I thought.
Instead, I was now extremely busy but living with the same void as before. In a house of 200 women, I still felt lonely. It wasn’t until a friend invited me to church that I realized what was missing. I had been living the life I planned for me, not once did I think about God’s plan for me. I started going to a campus ministry which is where I got plugged in and was given the opportunity to dive deeper into my relationship with God. I began to understand that best life I planned couldn’t compare to God’s plan for me. As I began to dive deeper into my understanding of who God was, I started to understand who God made me to be.
After years of struggling to discover what my life was created for, it finally began to unravel. For me, understanding that I was made on purpose and for a purpose was all I needed to know. God began molding and shaping my heart to look more like His. I found myself praying more, seeking guidance from Him, and wanting to go to church.
In the spring of my senior year my faith took a turn. Up to this point I knew who God was and I was turning to Him for everything. However, I wasn’t fully confident in my ability to read His Word. You see, I thought ‘I don’t know enough about the Bible’ or ‘The Bible is too confusing.’ I soon realized that growing deeper into this relationship with God meant reading and understanding His Word more. In order to do that, I needed a community that pushed me to be the best the Lord made me to be. In that moment and season of life, God knew what I needed and He provided.
Lane of Roses posted a story on their Instagram page in the Spring of 2017 that would unknowingly change my life forever. The post was inviting women to their first ever Lexington Bible Study. My roommate and I decided to give it a try, and luckily we did.
Almost 3 years later, I am still attending the same Bible study, growing my heart and mind every day to look more like Jesus. I have learned the heart of God and come to understand His love for us, His creation. I have learned that I was made on purpose and for a purpose.
You see, had God never placed the desire in my heart for the University of Kentucky, I wouldn’t be here right now. I wouldn’t be in the midst and awe of an almighty God who loves me so much He sent His Son to die for me. I wouldn’t know that expanse of His grace and mercy. I wouldn’t know a true community centered around Christ and His mission. God is faithful and His plans for us are good.
Sometimes when we’re in a valley, like loneliness, we cannot see what's to come. But looking back, I would suffer it ten times over to be where I am today, knowing the King of the Universe calls me Beloved.
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