“For someone who has gone through as much change as I have, you would think I’d be good at trusting God by now,” said Bekah Schouten. “But honestly, I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming through most of the transitions in my life.
“The first change that rattled me happened in middle school, when my family moved from Ohio to Michigan. I had accepted Christ as my Savior when I was young, and because I was a pastor’s kid who was always at church and attended Christian schools, I knew a lot about God. But I didn’t know God. Because I had no relationship with Him, I didn’t trust that the move to Michigan was what was good for me. It felt like God was taking everything good away from me.
“Once we got to Michigan, I became the most negative person you can imagine, falling deep into depression and anger. My parents forced me to attend church and youth group, and I made it clear that I had no desire to be there. On a youth group retreat, the speaker preached about God’s unconditional love for us, how He has a plan for our lives, and how He works everything together for our good, even when it doesn’t feel like it (Romans 8:28). Finally, the truth of the gospel clicked for me. God loved me, and I could trust Him. I was filled with indescribable joy.
“My youth leaders saw the difference in me and became instrumental in the way I thought about God and being a Christian. I looked up to them for everything spiritually. They helped me build the foundation for my faith.
“But that foundation was shaken by conflict in our church. It devastated my family and shattered me. I lost my faith in God’s people and, in some ways, God Himself. I thought everyone in churches must also be hypocrites, and I wanted no part of it. So, I walked away from the Church and my faith for six years.
“After meeting and marrying my husband, Josh, I moved to Kansas City to be with him, and we spent the first five years of our marriage drifting aimlessly with no church home or community, chasing fulfillment in our careers and our possessions. We bought a house, had good-paying jobs, and got comfortable in our complacency. But we had lost sight of the hope we have in Christ, so we were miserable.
“That’s when another change rocked my life. Josh joined the Army Reserves, and four months later, we relocated to Texas. I had no desire to be uprooted, but we sold our house and moved into an apartment in Plano. Within one month of moving, Josh left for a year of boot camp and training.
“I was alone in a brand-new place, and the only person I knew in Texas was a college friend who went to Watermark. I had nothing and no one else, so I started to attend Watermark with her. I quickly realized that the people there were living authentically, selflessly serving and loving others, and living according to God’s Word – very different than the church experiences I’d had previously. I fell back in love with God’s people, and through Membership, Bible study, serving with students, and being surrounded by other Christians in an authentic community, I learned what it really means to trust God, live for Him, and live life to the fullest (John 10:10).
“When I unexpectedly got pregnant, we learned that Josh would be deployed to Afghanistan. I questioned why God would take my husband away again, especially in a time like this. Josh left 20 days before our daughter Emery was born.
“Life by myself with a newborn was so hard and so lonely. When I experienced postpartum health complications, my husband and community group advised that I move back to Michigan with my parents until Josh came home. I didn’t want to, but I knew it was wise. So, we packed up everything again and drove 1,000 miles across the country so my daughter and I could temporarily live with my family.
“It was chaos, but God had a plan in that, too. While I was in Michigan, God used me to speak truth to my dad, who was in a season of unemployment. I reminded him of God’s goodness in my own life and that we can trust God’s plan and promises because He is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
“When Josh got back from deployment, he got to meet our then 10-month-old daughter, and shortly after my whole family moved to Texas with us. It has been a challenge, but more so a joy to see four generations of Christ-followers in one house caring for and discipling my daughter.
“Trusting God has been hard in these uncomfortable seasons of change. I’m still learning how to lean on Him more and more each day. But God has been so faithful. Without a relationship with Him, I know my life would be full of anxiety and purposelessness. Looking at my past and to the future, I know that Jeremiah 29:11 is true: God knows the plans He has for me, His plans are good, and His plans will give me hope and a future.”