Written by: Kari Sletten
“I am here. I will never leave you. Lean on Me for strength, and speak.”
These are the words that I heard, no, felt, when I came to know Christ as He truly is a mere four years ago. I was standing on a stage, behind a podium, sharing my life story with fifty other girls. Some of them were friends, others total strangers. Before I even knew how to talk about the traumas of my life, I was speaking. I was sharing my story with these people I barely knew. I can confidently say that the only reason this was possible, was because Christ Himself was willing me to speak.
“I don’t want to sound cliche, and I don’t want to complain. I have had an amazing life, but there have been moments that have been absolutely horrid. These moments are still the major obstacles in my life today...”
Here we go. My story.
I grew up in a home with Christian parents. We weren’t your typical Christian family though. We were a family with a mom who believed, a dad who mostly did, and three kids who didn't know where they stood. We went to church on holidays, but I know now that’s not enough. I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus that I could call my own, and I had no idea what I was missing out on. I thought I believed, until I didn’t.
Over the course of a year-and-a-half, I lost three friends: one to suicide, one to cystic fibrosis, and one to a school shooting. I reached a breaking point the moment that I found out my dear friend had been the only casualty in a school shooting. She was trying to tell the shooter that everything was okay, and they didn’t need to do what they were doing. The next moment, she was gone.
“In one single moment, my heart broke. In one single moment, I felt every fiber of my being dissolve. I blamed God for all of it.”
I spent the next two years of my life walking in darkness. Those years felt absent of the Light of God, absent of the joy I had felt, and absent of the sweet embrace of our loving Savior.
Then everything changed.
I was on a four-day retreat with fifty other girls from my high school, Kairos. I was given the opportunity to share my story with them. I found myself standing on that podium, sobbing, unable to make a sound, when God wrapped His arms around me. I told them of the loss that I had experienced and how it drove me away from God. I told them how I had given up on Him, and His goodness, until that very day when He made Himself known to me again.
Ever since that day, I have been pursuing a relationship with the Lord using every fiber of my being. I joined a campus ministry upon coming to college, and it was there that I started to learn what it really means to pursue a relationship with Christ. I learned how to read my Bible for all it’s worth. I learned how to pray fervent, unwavering, and thankful prayers. I learned how to use my voice and love of music to spread the love of God.
I have learned that I am wholly His, loved by Him, and saved by Him. My ability to love myself and others has grown immensely, and I would never want it any other way. It would be silly for me to say that I don’t have a lot of growing to do, because I do. I simply rejoice in the ways that God has had His hands on my story, from start to end. There is not a single moment that God is not with me.
“But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."
- Footprints in the Sand
If there is anything that I have learned over the past four years, it is that God pursues us with a never-ending, never-failing, perfect, forever, and always love. What could be more beautiful than that?
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39 ESV