I Felt Hurt And Fatherless

I Felt Hurt And Fatherless Hero Image

“My father’s spur of the moment ‘remodel’ of our house signaled the beginning of the unraveling of his health and our family. No longer a member of ‘the perfect family,’ my identity was shaken.” – Katie Van Slyke

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

“I distinctly remember an illustration my mom used to demonstrate my need for a Savior,” said Katie Van Slyke. “She put black ink on my hand to represent my sin. No matter how hard I tried to wipe away the ink, it simply spread from one finger to the next. Covering it only temporarily removed the stain. This was one of my first realizations that I could not hide or remove my sin. I learned that I was a sinner (Romans 3:23) in need of God’s grace. I needed a Savior to wash me clean.

“I consider it a huge blessing to have grown up in a Christian home with parents who deeply loved and supported me. We frequently hosted missionaries, who at times lived in our guest house. My family was involved in a local church, and frequently took short-term mission trips to help others. Folks often said my family was perfect, and I took pride in that image.

“In high school, I went to Russia regularly to do street evangelism and help with summer camps for Russian orphans. I grew up in an upper-middle class family where I never wanted or needed anything. In Russia, the kids had nothing – wearing the same clothes every day. I had the chance to tell them that God is the Father to the fatherless, and that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. God taught me so much as I served those kids. I would need to be reminded of the truth about my Heavenly Father in the years to come.

“When I went to college, it was a big transition for me. I was no longer serving in church or walking with a group of other believers who knew me. I needed to dive in, serve others and be fully known, but it was hard to find the right fit. I continued to read my Bible and pray regularly, and finally found a women’s Bible study. I was very driven as I went through school at Baylor, and graduated in three years.

“I began managing a team of 47 people after college, and God taught me about servant leadership. He showed me the value of being the hands and feet of Christ at work – whether it was comforting women who were experiencing abuse and hardship or sharing with others who needed hope. God was showing me that He could use me wherever I was.

“After a couple of years, I took a job in Dallas to be near my family, and it ended up being a tough season. My dad was diagnosed with a disease where he began losing the ability to walk. The loss of my last grandparent became the final straw for my dad. He stopped taking his medication and became very ill. He gutted our family home in the midst of the chaos and even left our family for a season. I felt hurt and fatherless. My mother, a cancer survivor, was battling the disease again and moved in with me for several years.

“My father’s spur of the moment ‘remodel’ of our house signaled the beginning of the unraveling of his health and our family. No longer a member of ‘the perfect family,’ my self-worth was shaken. But I came to realize that too much of my identity was wrapped up in appearances. I needed to rely on God as my rock and firm foundation and not find strength in the opinion of man.

“God was gracious to me as He led me to Watermark and to a group of women I now walk with in community. Over the years, friends have prayed and fasted with me as I’ve gone through illness and other challenges in my family. It is great to be fully known and fully know the women in my life.

“At Watermark, I’ve had the privilege of serving as a community group leader as well as discipling other women at The Porch and training new Porch volunteers. As I served others, God made it clear that He could use me, even in my brokenness and imperfection, because He is enough. “God also provided opportunities to serve as a leader on discipleship trips to Haiti, Ethiopia, Romania and Russia. I’ve seen the Lord do some really amazing things as He has intervened on our behalf overseas. All those trips lead to questions from friends and coworkers, and those questions are open doors to share about God’s faithfulness with friends here in Dallas.

“Through time in Scripture, the Lord has shifted my perspective by writing His Word on my heart. Whether my circumstances are stable or not, I can be grateful for the good things God has done in my life. The Lord, in His sweetness, has allowed me to see many people trust in Christ. He’s given me a much deeper faith and more compassion and patience towards all His children. He taught me that He loves me with an everlasting love, and it has nothing to do with my strength, performance or appearance.”