by Katie Duran
Like most others, I’ve had times of being super close to Christ and times of extreme distance. These last few years have brought me to a closeness with God as I have never experienced through the struggles I have of trusting Him in His plans for me; especially in my singleness.
Through the ministry of the Stonebridge (then CHEFC) youth group, I accepted Christ and was baptized in 7th grade. From that point on, I became involved in small groups and loved that they allowed us all to live our lives honestly together. The friends and mentoring relationships I had were amazing and were great at encouraging my spiritual growth. However, as a sophomore in college, I made a choice that changed the course of my life.
Because of the accountability from these friends and other church family members, I moved to Cedar Falls at a time when I no longer wanted to be held accountable. I was the furthest I had been from God and I did not want to answer questions about my spiritual life that these friends were so good at asking. It was after I moved that I found myself pregnant and I was terrified of telling these people that I had pretty much turned my back on.
I was ashamed and guilt-ridden for having a baby when so many others I knew were struggling to have children of their own. I prayed daily for God to take the baby from me and to allow others to have one because it wasn’t fair otherwise.
However, I should not have expected anything other than the loving support, grace and open arms that I received from everyone.
When the decision was made that I would keep Jackson as my own, the continued outpouring of support from my church family was overwhelming. Pastor Jason reminded me of Romans 8:1 and that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. I struggled the first two years of Jackson’s life to truly accept him as a blessing because of the circumstances he was born in and the shame and guilt I continued to feel. It took the support from my family and friends at Stonebridge to get me through and over those struggles.
Living life together allowed me to be honest in my pain and with my feelings so others could pray with and for me, show me what God had to say about everything and encourage me to “stay the course.” I don’t even want to imagine where I would be without my Stonebridge family (and of course my own!). When I was at my lowest, they lifted me up and still do so today.
I am now confident that where God has led me is not a punishment. It is a result of my own sinfulness and decisions I made; however, God is faithful in bringing out the good as I continue to trust Him and lean on Him with the help of those around me at church and at home.
I pray my story ends with the happy ending I’ve longed for and the happiest ending will be hearing Jesus say to me “well done, good and faithful servant.” I can only get there by continuing to stay strong in my relationship with Him and I personally do that best by living my Christian life authentically with other believers. When that can happen well, amazing things can happen through Christ and I have been blessed to see that first-hand.