“Before Christ, I was foolish, disobedient, and enslaved by passions and pleasures,” said Kelly Suckow. “I was a total shell of a person. I looked like I had it all together on the outside, but no one knew I was wasting away on the inside.
“Although my family moved around often growing up, I was blessed to find Christian friends throughout my high school years from Fellowship of Christian Athletes and an impactful high school ministry at a local church. One of my friends, Kellie, had something so different about her. At the time, I had no idea she would be by my side into adulthood and become one of the biggest influences in my relationship with Jesus.
“When I graduated high school in Tennessee, I started college across the country at the University of California, Berkeley. It was the polar opposite of the communities I grew up in, and I was so isolated from my friends and my family. Eager to please anyone and everyone around me in this new place, I started doing drugs, drinking, and living a promiscuous lifestyle – seeking to find ‘the true college experience.’
“My life was full of debauchery at school, but when I’d come home for holidays, I hid behind a mask of good grades and following the rules. I distanced myself through this season from my friend, Kellie, by lying and completely isolating myself from her to hide my actions. From the outside, it looked like everything was fine, but inside, I was decaying. I felt like I was living a double life.
“This lifestyle continued through the rest of my years in college. I knew everything I was doing was wrong. I remember feeling conviction from my actions and thinking, ‘This clearly can’t be what life is about. This is awful. It’s so empty!’ But I wasn’t ready to accept grace or give up my lifestyle for a relationship with Jesus.
“Even though I had never visited Texas before, I accepted a teaching job in Dallas after graduating college. Surprisingly, my best friend, Kellie, also ended up moving to Dallas. As teenagers, we always dreamed about living in the same city when we were older, but now it was a reality. Although we had grown apart through college, I still respected Kellie, and I knew her friendship would make such a difference in my life.
“When I called her for the first time since moving, Kellie was on her way to a church event. I begged to join her, even though I had no idea what I was walking into. It turned out to be a class in the Membership process at Watermark. I was quickly surrounded by Christians in an authentic and open community. Although my life was still mired in sin, I was intrigued by the lifestyles of these new Christian friends.
“God kept pursuing me and using Kellie to teach me about His love. We started to meet weekly on Wednesdays, and as our friendship began to rebuild, I opened up to her about the choices I previously kept secret. I felt I was pouring poison and darkness out of my heart, and she met me with such compassion and unconditional grace. She encouraged me to change my environment and my habits.
“With her advice and encouragement, I made a bigger commitment to surround myself with a community of believers and started committing my time to learning about Christ and the Bible. I was reading daily and attending classes at Watermark, like Equipped Disciple. As I learned more about God’s love for me, I watched the color come back into my life again. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. When I was disobedient from God or made poor choices, my community group and Kellie were there for me.
“In my desire to pursue Christ and make Him a priority, I started re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. re:generation was instrumental in excavating the deep-seeded roots of my sin. Christ uncovered my desires for control, lust, and passion and gave me the framework and tools for fighting temptation. My relationship with Christ strengthened as I learned more about His unconditional love for me. I knew I couldn’t go back to my old lifestyle.
“I moved into a house with other Christian women to have more accountability and transparency at home every day. The choice to live in a healthy environment continued the momentum of living with the joy found in Christ. I felt so overwhelmed by the Spirit and how Christ was working in my life. Kellie told me later about how much she prayed for me to experience major life change through Christ and find community at home. I am so grateful Christ used my community group, Kellie, and my roommates to show me His unconditional love and mercy.
“Now, I get to serve at The Porch, Watermark’s ministry for young adults, and meet people who have similar stories. I look back on the years I spent away from the Lord, and I am so thankful I can encourage them with my story of grace and show them there is a way out of pain and destruction.
“After trusting Christ, I am disciplined, obedient, free, and trusting of God’s plan. His sacrificial love and forgiveness tell me I am not punished because of what I’ve done in the past. I’m not broken, tainted, or dirty. I confidently know His way is the only way that leads to life.”