photo courtesy Jessica Huenefeld
My Story: How My Life Changed

As I Was Running, God Was Following

“God wants to put the pieces back together.”

Jessica Huenefeld with Emilie Vinson

I did everything I was supposed to do.

I grew up in a Christian home. My mom and dad were strong in their faith. I went to church. I went to Bible study and youth group. I sat through Sunday school every week.

I did all the typical “good” Christian things that a little kid does, and I made the decision to accept Christ as a child.

But the whole time, I was still controlling my life.

I went off to college and tucked God away, thinking, “If I need you, I’ll pull you out. You’re still a part of my life, but this is my time. I want to do what I want to do.”

I was at school for a week when I learned my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died the following summer, just before I turned 19. At that point, I took the box I had put God in and chucked it out the window.

That was the end of God being in my life. I set out to be popular and to run with the right crowd. I had fun and soaked up all the college experience I could, trying to cover over the pain I was feeling.

One night, I was admitted to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.

For the next year, alcohol ruled my life. I knew my behavior was self-destructive, but I was still not ready to let God back in. I tried to save myself through my own strength. I alone was going to change things and get back on the right track.

One night, I was admitted to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.

I don’t remember anything. I woke in unfamiliar surroundings with tubes sticking into my arms.

That was the breaking point, where I realized there had to be a change bigger than what I could make.

Amid my terror, I knew I was not alone in the room. All the things I learned about God as a child, the truth of the gospel, finally clicked.

I was never going to be able to do it in my own strength. I had been running away from God all this time, and He had been chasing after me.

He wanted to be the One I came to in that despair.  

That was when I made the decision that I needed Him to be the One.

The idea of living out a relationship with God had been foreign to me. I wanted it to be about steps to take, traditions to keep. I had to get to a breaking point before it clicked that God just wanted me.

In our human nature, it’s hard for us to come to God in that broken state, but that’s just how He wants us. We don’t need to clean up our act before we go to Him. He wants to be the one to put our pieces back together.


Jessica served as the executive assistant to the director of operations for Cru’s U.S. campus ministry. She and her husband, Michael, live in Melbourne, Florida.

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