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I don’t know about you, but when I sit down to write an essay, I find myself staring at a blank Word document intimidated, scared, and increasingly stressed as the vertical line pulses at me. The thought about making something out of absolutely nothing is daunting…
In the same way, life without God is like that too: starting from scratch.
In college, you are still figuring out who you are and what you want. And if you find yourself not relying on God completely then you might be quick to turn to people around you for answers. You look at their lives in hopes of figuring out how to live your own, but in this attempt to find your individuality you slip into a desire to be like everyone else, and for me, in college, that manifested itself in my desire to drink and the allure of alcohol in general.
I found myself craving the funny drunk stories my friends told, instead of the limitless adventurous stories God has planned for me.
Coming from a very sheltered childhood, I started High School with an innocent view of the world. I didn’t think people drank before 21, smoked, or had sex outside of marriage (I know… so naive), so when I sat through a game of Never Have I Ever at my initiation night for varsity volleyball, my perspective on the world changed. I woke up to the fact that instead of no one doing those things I just mentioned, almost everyone I knew did them. I asked around to see if anyone didn’t do those things, and when I couldn’t find anyone I felt alone and set apart from everyone. I was coming into High School off of a summer camp high with a fire for the Lord that I wanted to live out, so when I looked around to find someone who didn’t do those things and found no one, I was discouraged.
How am I suppose to stand my ground when there is no one here to stand with me?
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”– Deuteronomy 31:6
It was in that moment of isolation that I decided to be the Christian role model that I so desired for myself, so that when the next girl like myself came to school she wouldn’t feel the way I did.
At the time, the best way I could think of showing my dedication to the Lord was to make a commitment to not drink. I thought by saying ‘no’ to drinking it would be a tangible way to be set apart in my relationship with Christ.
At first, it was easy as most of my friends didn’t drink, but as we grew up more and more people started to drink and my strength in the decision to not drink wavered. It was especially challenging when my Christian friends joined in. I felt like I was missing out on the “typical” high school experience, and I became envious of their ways.
“Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.” – Psalms 31:1-2
I looked at my friends and desired their “loose & carefree fun.” How could my friends do these things, and still call themselves Christians? I didn’t understand. I questioned why I chose to take on the task of not drinking in order to stay close with God. I craved their stories.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for me will find it.” – Matthew 1:24-25
Because I wasn’t drinking, I felt like I was a burden to my friends. I devalued myself because I didn’t fit in with what they were doing. I didn’t feel wanted. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I was looking for my worth in what others valued when I should have had my gaze fixed on my eternal value in the Lord. I had to keep reminding myself that the ways of the world are temporary and that true joy is found in Christ.
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is there your heart will also be.” – Matthew 6:19-21
I finished up High School strong and experimented a little with drinking that summer, but the funny, carefree stories I craved were never what they were made out to be.
Then in college, it was the same situation but harder- more people, more parties, and more drinking. And, with all that, my desire to drink increased. It wasn’t because I wanted to feel more relaxed at parties or be more fun and flirty. It was because hearing all of my friend’s drunk stories made me feel like I was missing out. Stories where they would wake up on a stranger’s lawn dressed in 80’s workout gear from the night before. Or that time they jumped into a fountain with all of their clothes on. I wanted to have these crazy funny stories, and in my head, that could only happen when you were drunk.
I thought if I drank I would be so much cooler. I would have better dance moves, be funnier, be popular, and have the night ultimately end with a funny story that I could share with all of my friends. But these things never happened. I tried to go out and drink and make these funny stories happened a few times, but they never lived up to what I wanted. Not once.
And that is exactly how sin works. It builds you up into thinking that what you are tempted to do is going to be the best thing ever. When in reality, it leaves you feeling emptier than you did before. It is an addicting cycle of chasing an unsatisfying desire that the devil places in front of you, tricking you into thinking that one day you will be able to grab it and finally feel content.
For a while I thought that if I just kept trying to do things on my own I would be able to make stories happen. But I would wake up after those nights of going out feeling empty, and, more importantly, lost. I was trying to write my own story but getting nowhere besides becoming more and more overwhelmed. And then I came across this verse that changed my whole perspective:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Is this verse saying that God has it all planned out for me? That all I need to do is trust in him?
I found so much comfort in this verse that I wanted to give it a try.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has ever conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9
With God, you will experience things that no mind has EVER conceived! Do you believe that? I don’t know about you, but I want that!
When you choose to live your life on your own, it is like beginning an essay- starting with a blank Word document. It is intimating, and frustrating, and you usually have no idea where to start or even end. However, when you live your life for Jesus, you have a completely different experience. Instead of worrying about writing your own story, you get to rely on God and discover what He already has planned for you. It is kind of like that black scratch paper you used to play with as a child where you would scratch off the top black layer to uncover the rainbow colors below. That is how I like to view life with God. He has this amazing, colorful, and vibrant plan for us, we just have to scrape away the dependence on this world to discover it.
When you think about life as a discovery instead of a blank slate, stress, worry, and frustration all seem to fade away. They are replaced with pure excitement and anticipation to see what crazy stories God has planned for you!
“I have come to give you life, and to give you life to the full.” – John 10:10
Isn’t that exciting. “Life to the full!” Life with God is like a constant treasure hunt, trying to find what God has up his sleeve- what He is waiting to uncover in our lives. If you let God be the author of your life then you will have stories more outrageous and shocking than anything anyone could ever imagine! This doesn’t mean that you won’t be tempted with the things your worldly self desires, but it does that mean God will be with you to help fight past them.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
This story was first shared as a testimonial story in the printed Delight Ministries curriculum (an amazing college ministry resource and community) back in 2014. With this, there were questions to discuss the story and dig deeper into its messages, so below you will find those questions. Make some time to go through them, and really reflect upon your answers.
Krista Hengesh is the founder and executive director of Live Salted. She started it back in 2016 and has been chasing after the Lord with this calling on her life since then. She is currently living in Seattle, Washington and loves to be outside and active whenever possible. She is deeply passionate about bringing people together and helping them recognize the potential and influence inside of them!
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