“No matter their background or who they’ve lost or what grade they’re in, the kids at Shift just all love each other like crazy. Experiencing the love of Jesus like that calmed my anxious heart. I’d been dreading going to Shift but by the second week I knew I was right where the Lord wanted me.” – Claire Hornberger
“I was just angry. So angry,” says Kara Hoover. “Angry over all the friends who’d died while I was a teenager, and now I was heartbroken about losing my dad. I was mad at God and mad about having to open up and process these losses. But keeping it all in and just soldiering on had led to some self-destructive behaviors that I knew were the result of unresolved grief. I was stuck, and I had to find some way to give all this pain to Him if I was ever going to break free.”
As she talked about her hurt with others in GriefShare (Watermark’s biblical grief recovery program for adults), Kara experienced God’s love and compassion through the care of her group. “I was surrounded by people who understood me but who stuck by me even in the darkest moments. People who didn’t judge me or tell me that my faith was lacking, but who loved me right where I was. God used that love to transform my heart and rebuild the foundation of my faith.”
The Lord later called Kara to return to GriefShare as a small-group leader. “I felt so unqualified and fearful. But I love getting to walk with others through their pain and watch them grab onto hope. Each semester I’m reminded that God has a purpose in everything He allows.”
Meanwhile, a young Watermark teen, Claire Hornberger, had experienced the suicide of a classmate. “Everybody at school had an unspoken assumption that talking about it was pointless. So we didn’t. But I became obsessed with 24/7 thoughts of dying, wondering who’d be next and questioning my faith. I pushed my feelings to the back of my mind but would wake up crying all the time. My parents and I knew I needed help.”
Help came in the form of a new ministry called Shift. It was started by some Watermark grief recovery leaders who’d recognized the significant need for a biblically-based, Christ-focused recovery program for kids and teens.
“I didn’t want to sign up because I don’t like talking about my feelings,” says Claire. “Going to Shift every Tuesday for 13 weeks sounded awful.”
“When you experience loss as a kid,” says Kara, “It really can feel like you’ve been in an earthquake. Life undergoes some kind of seismic shift that you can’t fully understand. Your world is kind of like the wreckage an earthquake leaves behind – it looks just completely different when someone you love is taken away.
“I recognized so much of myself in Claire, a young girl trying to make sense out of all the confusion and sadness she was experiencing. My heart went out to her. But I was also so excited to see her and other kids taking their hurts to Jesus for healing, and not ignoring them or thinking that time alone would make them all better. I am so blessed to get to serve here and help grieving kids and teens find the hope I needed to know when I was their age.”
“It was so great to be around other kids who just got me, without me having to explain anything,” says Claire. “No matter their background or who they’ve lost, the kids just all love each other like crazy. Experiencing the love of Jesus like that calmed my anxious heart. I’d been dreading going to Shift but by the second week I knew I was right where the Lord wanted me.”
Lynette Thweatt says, “We created Shift because kids and teens need a place to process grief with peers who have also experienced loss. It is a safe place to work through their grief while pointing them to Christ and to Scripture as the only source of true, lasting healing.
“We went through GriefShare when we lost our eight-year- old little girl, but at the time there was no place to bring her three brothers. I tried to share with them what I was learning, but I have watched the boys struggle to come to terms with her loss. It is difficult to navigate on your own. Out of that need, I jumped in with Shift. It has been a sweet way to honor Sydney’s memory and to see God using the greatest pain we’ve ever known to bring hope to these kids. She would have loved this.”
“It still hurts to remember my classmate,” says Claire. “Losing him really shook me up. But one of the most important verses to me during this whole time has been Isaiah 54:10. It says that even though ‘the mountains may move and the hills disappear,’ God’s love is constant. It is forever, the foundation of everything.
“I’d lost sight of that for a bit. God is so good to have given me a place to go each week and be reminded that when everything around me turns upside down, His faithful love for us will remain. God never moves.”
Tuesdays starting September 6 • 6:30 – 8:30 pm Dallas Campus
Shift is for kids and teens dealing with the loss of a loved one. Kids process grief and change with peers, gaining the tools they need to build a solid foundation of faith and hope (for grades 3- 12). Registration: watermark.org/events. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @Watermarkshift