With a Word

Kristin Good was on a mission from day one: she wanted Erinn to meet Jesus. So for three years, the Young Life leader showed up at lunches and tennis matches, took pictures at homecoming and chaperoned prom. She pursued and, most of all, she prayed. But her young friend was content to wander.

In the end, it was one simple word etched on a necklace, which finally changed Erinn’s life. And after years of running and resisting, the “Word that was with God” found a home in her heart.

For Erinn, that one word — engraved on a charm strung on a copper chain — was evidence Jesus saw her and loved her. For Kristin, it was a much-needed reminder that the Word had been with them both from the very beginning.

In the Beginning

Kristin and Erinn vividly remember first meeting each other in January of 2015. Kristin was a freshman at Colorado State University and had just been placed as a leader at Fossil Ridge High School in Northern Colorado, where Erinn was a sophomore.

“Erinn was feisty!” Kristin recalled. “We hit it off right away.”

Erinn added, “I remember I instantly felt very comforted by her. We clicked really well. I felt safe with Kristin.”

Erinn had just started going to club a few weeks prior to meeting Kristin. Erinn said her family attended church only on Christmas and Easter, and she only went to club because she heard it was the place to be.

While the pair quickly found a connection, Kristin said she also felt Erinn’s resistance to faith.

“For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been against the Lord,” Kristin said. “She had a big wall up every time. She’d always say, ‘I’m just here because my friends are here.’ Naturally I started feeling discouraged. As much as I wanted that relationship for her, she just did not want it. There was no movement toward the Lord I could ever see.”

Erinn explained, “I thought Jesus was for perfect people. I thought you had to be this perfect person to receive His love. I had a hard time believing because of what was happening in my life at the time and happening in other people’s lives. I thought, ‘If God loves you, why would He put you through all this?’”

Kristin was discouraged but not deterred. Between club, Campaigners and other times together, she spent several nights a week with Erinn and her friends. During those years, Erinn went to summer camp, winter retreats and on a backpacking trip — and still, nothing changed.

“In those three years, my heart was set on fire for her, and I felt a deep yearning for freedom and truth to change her life,” Kristin said. “Every cabin time, coffee date or walk we went on for three years, she would express that she didn’t believe in God and didn’t want anything to do with Him. She kept coming to Young Life simply because it was fun and we got to spend time together.

“Every year, I had a battle inside of me, feeling like I wasn’t doing enough as a leader, and my heart broke constantly that she did not understand the depths of the Father’s love for her.”

At the same time, Erinn was quietly fighting her own battle.

“I never felt worthy of anything,” she said. “I wrote in my journal about how I wish I could be worthy of love. It was a word that came up a lot for me. I think deep down I couldn't believe there was a God who loved me because I could never say I loved myself. I truly believed I was not worthy of receiving love from anyone.”

The Word

The summer after Erinn’s senior year she went with 19 other graduates to Lake Powell for a weeklong Rocky Mountain Region Backcountry houseboat trip. In the two months leading up to this trip, Kristin and her co-leader, Helena, prayed specifically for each of their 12 senior girls.

They asked the Lord for a word from Him they could use to encourage and bless their friends. Once the words were decided, they had each one engraved on a necklace as a graduation gift. They planned to present them during the trip.

When they landed on Erinn’s word, Kristin said she remembers thinking, “Nothing seemed more ​perfect for her.”

One night early in the week on Lake Powell, the speaker challenged the teenagers with a question: What lies are you believing? Inside Erinn’s heart, something began to shift.

“During cabin time that night, we were sharing our insecurities,” Erinn said, “and I told everyone how I felt unworthy of love.”

Kristin remembers sitting there, watching God’s grace wash over Erinn: “Her friends came alongside her and told her, ‘That is a lie; you are worthy! Don’t believe that lie!’ The word ‘worthy’ kept coming up over and over … ”

With God

The next day, Kristin and Helena took the girls aside and presented each one with her necklace and her “word.” The girls slowly unwrapped their gifts and discovered the treasure inside. Attached to every chain was a disk, stamped in bold assurance with the truth each one proclaimed.

Erinn’s word was “WORTHY.”

“When I saw the word, I started crying,” Erinn said. “In that moment I knew it wasn't a coincidence. I had written, ‘I want to be worthy’ endless times in my journal. I felt like the Holy Spirit came over me, and I knew the Lord was true and good in that moment.

“The fact that Kristin heard that from Him months before proved to me He was listening and proclaiming His love for me. I felt renewed, and it was the best feeling ever to know the truth about myself.”

Kristin said, “It’s a beautiful thing to see the Lord work that tangibly. As Young Life leaders, we keep showing up no matter what. We may or may not get to see fruit, but it’s an honor to keep fighting. It can be hard sometimes, but it’s not a burden. It’s what we sign up for. We do not stop because the God we believe in will never stop showing up for us.

“I’ve had a front row seat to heartbreak and redemption. And it’s the sweetest gift I’ve ever received in my whole life. My life changed through Erinn’s life changing.”

Erinn, now a freshman at Montana State in Bozeman, said she still has her struggles, but now she knows where her worth is found. And she’s forever grateful to her Young Life leader who faithfully pointed the way.

“I feel more complete, more whole,” Erinn said. “I feel comfort in the Lord. I’m not running to certain things anymore. I still struggle, but my faith has helped me a lot and brought me so much.

“Kristin pursued me endlessly. She loved me no matter what. She literally did not stop until I heard the truth about God and His love for me. And she’s still going with me. She’s helped me step into my faith. It’s been life changing for me. I don’t even know how you can thank someone for that.”