She is Free

How College Student Grace Stoelzing Found Her Faith In College

What is my purpose on earth? Why am I here? Is there life after death? These are questions that many ask and seek the answers to. College is a time where many are trying to figure out the answers to these questions. Watch the video below to hear college student’s experiences in finding their own.

Grace Stoelzing was one of these students, battling the same feelings of insecurity, doubt, and anxiety. This is her own journey in exploring faith in college and experiencing freedom.

Grace Stoelzing, 2020. Taken by Erin McCarthy.
Grace Stoelzing, 2020. Taken by Erin McCarthy.

The Beginning

Grace Stoelzing grew up in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to her parents Skip and Korey. Growing up in a Christian household, Grace grew up going to church, being involved in youth groups, and hearing about God from her family. She never questioned faith and went through the motions of early morning church services and summer camps where she learned the bible. However, her heart was never set on fire for her faith.

“It felt like my parent’s faith,” said Grace. “I didn’t feel like I personally knew God- I had learned a lot about Him and could tell you facts, but I didn’t feel a relationship with Him.”

These feelings continued for Grace, and her faith existed as a side item in her life that did not affect anything else outside of Sunday mornings.

However, she was searching. Searching for contentment, fulfillment, and purpose. She looked to many things, hoping she would find the answer. She turned to partying, but no drunken night seemed to fill the whole in her heart. She turned to sports- but no trophy or title left her feeling good enough. She turned to men- but no physical connection made her feel known or loved. She was searching for answers, but didn’t know where to find them. With her faith shrinking, she thought college would be a time for answers.

She wanted to feel free.

Attending Colorado State University as a freshman in 2018, Grace wasn’t looking to dive into her faith more. One of her first days walking on campus, she was handed a popsicle from staff members of a student ministry, inviting her to attend the large group session that night. Grace doesn’t know why she did, but decided to go that night. She was comfortable in church settings, after all, and what did she have to lose?

She continued to attend StuMo because she was meeting a lot of girls who she felt were similar to her. She felt a spark and interest to grow in her faith, but it remained stagnant for most of her freshman year, despite the desire. Spring semester rolled around, and Grace was told about StuMo’s nine week summer program, called Kaleo. Kaleo was designed to help students grow in their relationship with God and share that faith with others.

“I didn’t think there was any way I would go. I had a boyfriend back home still, who wasn’t very supportive of my faith. I wanted to go home and see him, so I didn’t have much interest.”

Shortly after, her relationship with her boyfriend turned to rocky terms. After he unexpectedly called her ending the relationship one night, Grace had a gut feeling to sign up for Kaleo. She ended up receiving the last open spot for the summer.

When Everything Changed…

“Kaleo changed everything for me,” said Grace. I was surrounded by so many college students who wanted to grow in their relationship with God, not because of what their parents said, but to experience their faith for themselves.”

At Kaleo, Grace was given the opportunity to freely explore her faith. And she found the answers she was looking for. In surrendering her life to Jesus, she finally understood the secret to contentment in fulfillment had been available to her all along- all she had to do was believe. “I finally understood that the Bible was not a boring book of rules, but a guide from a God who loves me so much that he sent his Son so he could personally know me. I had heard that my entire life, but it never felt true until that summer.”

Grace made a lot of difficult decisions at Kaleo that summer and had to give a lot up for her faith. One thing she feels sure of is that it was worth it. Her transition back was full of both highs and lows, with changes in her friendships, relationships, and every other aspect of life.

She felt free.

“Life hasn’t stopped throwing problems in my way- in fact, I probably have had more since,” said Grace. “The difference is I now know where to turn when I am facing problems and my joy isn’t defined by those circumstances.”

After years of feeling disatisfied, insecure, and unfulfilled, Grace found her life when she laid it down. She no longer searches for identity in approval of others, substances, or experiences, but a constant and loving God. She knows that no matter what comes her way, her life has purpose and meaning.

It took Grace stepping out in faith and exploring her belief for herself to find true freedom and satisfaction, aside from what her family thought.

She is free.

Listen to Grace talk more about her story:

Additonal Resources:

Learn more about Student Mobilization: https://www.stumo.org/

Learn more about Kaleo: https://www.stumowest.org/kaleo