Throughout the year at Blackhawk, we collect all kinds of statistics, from attendance each Sunday to number of baptisms to volunteer hours served. The best part is that each of these stats actually represents the stories of our community. Because at Blackhawk, we’re all part of a story. It’s the most important story, of God’s love for and redemption of us.
Colleen grew up in the church. She attended Christian camps in the summers, retreats on the weekends and felt a consistent desire to grow daily in her faith as she entered college. Nearly halfway through her college career, Colleen switched schools to pursue her degree and her world changed significantly. As she met new people and was exposed to exciting new opportunities, her faith began to take less importance in her life.
“I became involved in things that weren’t in line with what God wanted for me, and I started to change,” Colleen reflected. “It was so gradual that I didn’t even realize I was starting to compromise my values and beliefs. I was attending parties that I normally would’ve stayed away from and allowing people in my life that didn’t care for me.”
Soon, she began to doubt her value as a person, which was a new experience for her. In the past, she had always found her worth in God. “I started to question if God was present and loved me unconditionally,” Colleen said.
Eventually, she reached a point where she felt empty—emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally and financially. “I felt like I didn’t deserve to be treated with respect,” Colleen reflected. “I was waiting for people to let me down, so I kept spending time with people who were rougher and tougher, somehow thinking that when they did disappoint me it wouldn’t hurt as much because my expectations weren’t high.”
Feeling like her life was spiraling out of control, she abruptly moved from Minnesota to Madison, to be with her sister. While this was a positive step, she knew that her problems wouldn’t be solved by a location change; she needed an internal transformation. She decided to come to Blackhawk one Sunday and saw information about a Kenya Global Outreach team. The opportunity was outside of her comfort zone, but she felt led to fill out an application and joined the team.
“God orchestrated a beautiful timeline. I needed to be around positive, loving people and I found that at Blackhawk,” said Colleen.
“The Kenya GO team was so special to me—they saw me as a child of God and a value to the team. It was such a new and amazing feeling.”
Surrounding herself with people who cared about her helped, but the struggles with self-worth continued to haunt her and so, she continued to seek out the familiar, unhealthy relationships that she was used to.
“This was such a battle for me. Being around people like those from my past felt comfortable, even though it was incredibly destructive. Living that life left me feeling continually empty—I never felt like I was enough.”
Wanting more than ever to spend time with people who reinforced how God saw her, she joined a Life Group and began to feel a renewed connection to the community of Christ followers. But something was still missing.
“I became hard on myself because I saw what life could be like, but I couldn’t break out of my patterns and continued to make devastating mistakes. I would cry out, begging God to deliver me from the temptations and change what I had made my ‘normal.’ My heart so desired the Lord, but the worldly things kept distracting me.”
Through Blackhawk, she turned to counseling and One to One Care for help and accountability. With this support, she fought hard to stay away from the toxic cyclical relationships she sought in her past.
“It has been a long road, but with support from the people and ministries at Blackhawk, as well as that of family and friends, I slowly rebuilt my faith in myself, others and God,” Colleen said.
Over time, the love she experienced through relationships at Blackhawk taught her how God sees her, and she began to remember
who she was in Christ instead of the world.
“It’s still a constant choice every day to wake up and follow what the Lord wants, but He has never left my side. My life is more consistent and calm. I grow closer to God day by day and learn to trust Him more. Before, I was living different lives depending on who I was with. Now, I get to be me in all areas and it is so much better.”