For the first half of her life, Ashley lived in South Korea with her family before moving to the U.S. at the age of eleven. After a long season of navigating change and tackling language and cultural barriers, she attended the University of Washington where she joined a sorority and got involved with a collegiate ministry called The Navigators. The Navigators was a huge part of Ashley’s college experience and where she first experienced God’s presence and peace.

Since graduating, Ashley has been living in Seattle with her friends. She volunteers for The Navigators, works at Madewell and The Anchor, and is preparing to apply to law school next Fall!


I love hearing people’s testimonies, their life stories. I love the way God spends time writing our stories yet encourages us to turn the pages and be in it with Him. I had firmly believed that I was the sole author of my own story prior to experiencing Jesus. So for the first three years of college, I was careless, doing absolutely whatever I felt like doing. I sought joy in whatever would satisfy me in the moment.

My particular “joys” were found in three things — my boyfriend at the time, my sorority, and constantly going out. If you were in the Greek system in college, you know how that goes. For a while, I genuinely believed that it was working. I would have a few nights of going to parties and drinking, and I thought that I was happy. I constantly tied my identity and value to my boyfriend and my sorority yet at the same time, I was so painfully aware that I never actually felt happy. You know the phrase “the glass is half-empty or half-full”? I related to that more than anything else. I knew I wasn’t content, but I had to settle. I felt incomplete, but I felt I had to accept my life for what it was. Everyone else seemed happy. However, the way I saw it, my cup was half-empty. Maybe, just maybe, I could change that with time?

When your sense of self and level of happiness are built upon a fragile foundation, such as the number of times you go out in a week or your significant other, they quickly fall apart.

If I had a fight with my boyfriend, I reacted more harshly than I ever had before. Our relationship became very unhealthy. I also started to struggle in my sorority due to surface-level friendships and the constant going out. Neither my house nor the parties could fill my cup.

As a result, I became angry with God although I didn’t even have a relationship with Him. I had no idea what that meant. I was so frustrated. What else could I possibly do? Everyone else seemed happy, why not me? And I was upset at God for letting this happen to me. How could He just stand by and watch me struggle?

Then, during my senior year, something miraculous happened. God met me exactly where I was and slowly started taking all those things away from me. I broke up with my boyfriend of three years. I completely moved out of my sorority house. When those things first happened, it wasn’t easy. I was completely lost, alone, and without the very things I had used to fill my cup. I had no choice but to start pouring into my cup with the only thing left — my relationship with Jesus.

My senior year was transformative and so very different than the previous three years. Instead of hanging out with my boyfriend, I spent time with God every day in His Word. Instead of going to frat parties, I showed up to weekly Navigators meetings. And slowly, God began to fill my cup. The void that I had felt began to be filled with an inexplicable sense of peace, and I found companionship and friends through the Navigators.

My little set-up in my room where I always read my Bible and had quiet time

My first ever Navigators retreat in Snoqualmie

I pressed in even more. I read through Mark together with Caitlin, a staff member on the Navigators team who discipled me. I joined a discipleship group that met up weekly to memorize scripture and share life. I asked questions because I desired to know God and His character. I even took a leap of faith and started a Bible study in my sorority, leading girls to a hope beyond what the house could offer. Suddenly, my cup that had been half-empty started to OVERFLOW. Psalm 23:5 puts it perfectly: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Spring quarter of that year, I decided to get baptized through the Navs and publicly give my life to Jesus!

My discipleship group (from left: Hannah, Olivia, Caitlin, and Kennedy)

Getting baptized in the Spring!

Me and Caitlin

It can be so easy to feel that God isn’t writing our stories. During some of the toughest moments of my life, I blamed God for the things that were happening to me. I convinced myself that He had left my side. But I think back on my experiences and realize that God had been writing my story all along, even before I met Him my senior year. If it had not been for freshman year, sophomore year, and junior year, would my senior year have turned out the way it did? He was with me all along, writing my story with care, intention, and patience.

I love the story of Jesus calming the storm in Luke 8. It reminds me so much of His presence during life’s many storms. Any time I am wrestling with something, I always try to remember that our hardships are not when Jesus leaves our side but rather is closer to us than ever. Another story that comes to mind is the one about Balaam and his donkey in the Old Testament book of Numbers. It’s a funny story, one that makes me laugh but also one that reminds me of His nearness to us. It makes you think: Is God ever gone or are we just blind to it?

I still go through seasons with God. There are seasons where I’m on the top of the mountain with Him. There are seasons where I’m in the deepest valleys. But regardless of what season I am in, I try to remember that this is all a part of His book. I may not know how the story ends.

I may not have absolute ownership over the plot, the timing, or the characters, but He truly is the best author, and I will always trust Him to write my story.

Written by Ashley Kim for The Anchor Journal

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