“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
On April 20, 2016 Kayla Castro, a freshman at GCU, suffered a severe hiking accident where she fell 60 to 100 feet off Camelback Mountain. She was immediately admitted to Honor Health Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center and stayed there for the next 10 days, unconscious and undergoing many surgeries, surrounded by friends and family.
Kayla was well known on campus. She had a lot of friends, spent most nights on the Grove lawn participating in activities and was a frequent customer of Chick-fil-A.
She was smart, but always open to new ideas. She was funny, but never at the expense of another’s feelings. She was beautiful, but not because her hair was perfectly curled or because of the makeup she was wearing. She was beautiful in her smile, a smile that was so big her nose scrunched together, wrinkles formed all throughout her face and her eyes were pushed closed shut because of her big cheeks. Kayla was by no means perfect, but she was pretty awesome. If you ask anyone who knew her, her most recognizable and distinguishable quality was the joy that she could not hide even if she wanted to.
On April 30, Kayla returned home to her Heavenly Father who had been awaiting her arrival. He looked into her eyes, the ones He created 18 years ago, and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Throughout Kayla’s accident and her story being spread all over the world, the mantra “Live Like Kayla” was adopted (it is even an Instagram hashtag). This motto was a cry for people to love, live and laugh like Kayla – to be as joyful as she was and to never take a moment for granted.
I want to live like Kayla, but not for any of those reasons. I want to live like Kayla because she loved and lived like Jesus.
Kayla was known for that big smile of hers. She was famous for her laugh and the joy that poured out of her. I would find myself trying to preserve that same joy that was so obvious in her life, in my own life, but I could not. It took me a while before I realized that although her joy was her most defining characteristic, it was not her own.
The joy and love that Kayla carried was motivated and fueled by something. The love that she showed others, and the love that I wanted so desperately to replicate in my own life, was in response to the love that she felt from the Lord. She loved, because she was loved. She was merciful because she was shown mercy over and over again, even as she failed the Lord daily, as we all do. Her pursuit of the truth was inspiring, and now she is sitting with Jesus – all her questions answered and all anxiety washed away, as she sits and rests with the King.
In Jesus, there is so much joy, love and freedom. To have had a friend that exemplified that so well, and truly lived it out, is such a blessing. As I reflect on who Kayla was, I am so encouraged. I want to let the Lord’s love consume me and push me to love others. I want the joy I experience from His goodness to translate into a big smile on my face. I hope to always live and embrace the freedom that can be found in His love.
I want to live like Kayla, because she lived and loved like Jesus.
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