I met Kandace a few years ago in the workplace. She appeared in the midst of a hard time for me and was calm, steady, and loving while our surroundings were hectic and unpredictable. Since I have known both her and her husband, they have became deeply engrained in our church and are constantly seen building relationships with the people they find themselves around. Kandace is kind and conversational. Protective and gentle. Any time I confide in Kandace about uncertainties in life, she reminds me of God’s faithfulness like many others do, but I’m able to grab more firmly to her reminder because I watch her face her own trials with steadfastness that only comes from believing her own words. Here is Kandace’s story:
April 2, 2017
KANDACE: We never went to church until I was, maybe, five. We moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Missouri because my grandpa got sick and my family wanted to be close to him. We started going to a Baptist church and I got baptized when I was eight, but I didn’t understand what it meant. My sister had just gotten baptized and I just knew that I wanted to get baptized, too. I just went through the motions. I went to Sunday school and the youth events, but I don’t feel like I ever had a true relationship with God. I was taught what you should and shouldn’t do, but there wasn’t a relationship with God. It was often like…okay, you go to Sunday School, you go to the events, but it was never talk to God. It was just a surface thing. I was always just a “good” kid and that’s what I thought you needed to be. Whenever I graduated from high school, I really distanced myself from my family and lived my life independently. I would go see them, but I wouldn’t really make connections with them. I started partying a lot when I turned 21. I would go out every night and drink every night. I was an alcoholic, for sure. I drank during the day and drank at night.
I met Russell when I was 20, about to be 21. He watched my whole lifestyle unfold. At 22, Russell and I got together and we kind of lived separate lives. I would be in the bar drinking with friends and he would stay home and get high. That was our lifestyle for a really long time.
I got a promotion at work, so I dug in there and then that became my life. I pretty much stopped going out. We would still stay in and drink, but I was at work more often than not. I really put myself into that and that was my god at the time. I gave my life to working. It wasn’t long before I got another promotion – this time to manager. Not long after that, Russell and I got married. Around that time was when I started going to church and devoting time to church – when Russell started going back. Russell had started making those changes in his life first. It almost made me jealous and I wanted to dig into myself a little bit more in order to figure out my relationship with God.
I remember the first few months being back in church…I cried every time. I was in a place where I was realizing, This is the person I’ve become. I was just so far away from everything I ever wanted to be. He gave me that realization about three years ago. Every Sunday, I would just break down. It felt like God was surrounding me. Every time, I prayed with him or when we worshiped or when there was a message – it felt like it was always for me. It felt like God just trying to talk to me. I felt like at some point in there – I just really wanted to do it for myself and not build off of the relationships that people had with God around me. I wanted my own relationship with God and be able to ask, “How is my relationship with God?” Not…”How is my relationship with Russell and God?”
I found out I was pregnant two weeks before I got married. Around 10 or 12 weeks into the pregnancy, I decided being a manager was not going to be conducive to the lifestyle that I wanted, so I ended up giving that up – which actually was really easy. I don’t think it would have been as easy if I hadn’t been going to church and digging in for myself and understanding how much love meant and how much time meant. I thought, Do you keep going and separate your life from your family or do you stop and focus on your family and the love they have for you? I’m hands-on type of person. I have to be in something to really understand it. I think being in that situation and being pushed to really decide is whenever I really had a hands-on from God. I think God was always trying, but I was just happily ignorant. I wasn’t looking for anything except partying and fun and what I thought was good at the time. I think, whenever I became pregnant, that really flipped a switch in me and showed me what true love felt like and who God is to me. I think becoming a mother really hyper focused my eyes onto God and the fact that He’s my father and how much He really loves me. I had never really understood that until I became a mother. That’s where I allowed God to meet me – when I became pregnant with Oliver.
I became a stay-at-home mom when he was born. I think I needed to slow down in my life because if I’m going, going, going – I don’t give myself time to slow down and take time to be with God. In my position as a stay-at-home mom, I had a lot of alone time and time to think and that really helped my relationship with God to grow along with having a husband whose life had changed so much. He kind of changed first. Whenever we had gotten engaged, he decided he was going to move out. I didn’t really understand it at first until I realized the love that God had for us, that Russell already understood. So, Russell really had a shift before me. I think I need that leader role in front of me.
TAYLOR: Have you since reconnected with your family?
KANDACE: Oh yeah, I’m at my parents’ house every Friday and we make time for each other. I’ve really gotten to understand how important it is not to focus all my attention on myself and to actually show love to other people. I feel like if I would have gone on with that lifestyle, I wouldn’t have the relationships that I have with them now and the true love I have with God now and the true love I now feel towards my family…I wouldn’t have that. I’m so grateful I have that. We could have had tons of things if I stayed and worked. We could have a big house and all these things, but I wouldn’t ever see my family. I wouldn’t see my son grow up. I wouldn’t get that time. So I think God has really helped me to see how loss can be good…how loss of a big job can be really good…how separating yourself from those kind of things can be good. I feel like every time we’ve had a struggle, God’s met us. Every time we’ve needed something and we thought it wasn’t going to come around and we weren’t going to get it, He sent somebody or something in a way that helped us make it. We’ve been fine. We’ve never had to really struggle. I think it’s because of God and us devoting our lives to Him.
So, before everything, all of it was very surface level. Now, I understand it. I understand that I’m God’s daughter. I understand how God loves me now – just like I love my son. Just like when I do those bad things, my Father is still going to love me. He’s going to be sad I did that, but He’s still going to love me. I want Him to be proud of me, so that’s how I see God now. I want Him to be proud of me. I want to do the things He wants me to do. Beforehand, I grew up in the Baptist church and I never gave my life to him. I didn’t know I needed him – not until three or four years ago. It’s crazy how much a person can change in such short time. I’m so thankful I have a husband that supports me, that wants the best for my life, and wants me to find God in my own relationship with Him.