Growing Up in Christ

Growing Up in Christ Hero Image Growing Up in Christ Hero Image

“I was mad at God,” said Caroline Klein. “I thought He abandoned me and left me empty and lonely as a motherless daughter. How could a good God allow my mother to die?

“When I was eight years old, my mom, who had a history of mental illness and depression, committed suicide. I didn’t know how to handle or cope with such grief at that age. It hurt to see everyone around me upset, so I focused on trying to make everyone happy. I trained myself to keep my feelings at bay and move forward because I didn’t want to be sad or feel the pain of my loss.

“I continued to hide my pain and feelings as I tried to make friends and succeed in school. I gossiped about classmates to fit in, I wasn’t a trustworthy friend, and I was only focused on myself. These choices caused broken friendships with people I really cared about, including a friend that encouraged me to get involved with a small group at Watermark. Reflecting now, I can see I longed for love in the absence of my mother but didn’t know I was looking in all the wrong places.

“I searched for control and contentment in relationships with boys and friends, but always came up short. When my remaining friends started to get involved with alcohol and drugs, I pulled myself away. I knew I didn’t want my life going in that direction. As a result, I felt completely alone with no friends.

“I was mad at God for leaving me alone again but soon realized He was giving me a chance to run to Him instead. By God’s grace, I remained involved in a small group at Watermark, where I was continually reminded to rely on Christ in weakness. I journaled every day for months, talking to God, praying, and asking Him questions. In this time, I was able to lean on my small group leaders and ask them really hard questions. I realized God wasn’t abandoning me when my mom passed; He was drawing me closer to Him and putting amazing people in my life. From my leaders’ wisdom and time spent in God’s Word, I was learning how to live a life fully surrendered to Christ. I really desired the life and freedom that I was hearing about from the Christians around me and in the Bible, and I found myself gradually growing spiritually in obedience and discipline.

“Fast forward to the global pandemic and our city shutting down. The pace of my life and schedule drastically changed. With school, babysitting, and social events coming to a halt, I had time to see the importance of intentionality in my relationship with Christ. I felt like God was asking me to pause my life and check my priorities. This slow season also helped me see that I was running from my past sins and tucked so much hurt in the back of my mind, away from God. I defined my worth by my appearance, relationships, and achievements, but all of these things led to constant disappointment. I knew God could free me from this, but I was too stubborn to surrender everything.

“In a conversation about our relationships with the Lord, a friend encouraged me to participate in RE:GENERATION for Students before I went to college. Due to COVID-19, my normal Monday commitment was also on pause. That perfectly left an open spot in my schedule on the same night as RE:GEN for students – an open spot that ended up being one of the greatest blessings of my life.

“Going in, I was fearful to share and be open with my peers – especially girls I went to school with. But the authenticity and vulnerability we experienced created deeper friendships than I could’ve ever imagined. Learning each other’s struggles brought us closer together and closer in our relationships with the Lord. I finally believed what God says is true – He won’t let me go and I am never too far gone for Him to save. He took my broken heart and transformed it into a heart that loves Him every second of the day as my Lord and Savior.

“There were a lot of things from my past I thought I could never share, but I found so much freedom. The overwhelming love I experienced after sharing with my group and my leaders was something I never really expected. Problems and sin don’t just go away, but I have learned how to see the difference from Satan’s lies and God’s truth.

“I see the Lord’s faithfulness especially through the women and mentors He’s put in my life as I’ve grown up. He even redeemed the friendships I lost. When I am discouraged, I remind myself of all He has given me. Yes, my story hurts, but I know God is good. I found healing from my past through God’s Word and a life surrendered to Him. God took the death of my mother, something that could’ve really broken me, and is using it to strengthen His kingdom and draw me closer to Him.”

The next session of RE:GENERATION for Students (grades 6 – 12) begins in August. Learn more and register.