Ashlynn Cartrette, Staff Writer
“We’ve moved several times,” she said, “from up-state New York, to Rhode Island, to Maine, to South Carolina. I’m actually here with some friends [now] because he’s back in New Hampshire with another church.”
Growing up as a preacher’s daughter, Kaelie Ricker was met with struggles and responsibilities her peers were never faced with. From moving multiple times, to being held to a higher standard, Ricker knew that her life was not the same as that of others her age.
“I was born on a Wednesday,” Ricker stated, “and [my mom] jokes that he left to go to a prayer meeting on Wednesday night after I was born. Because growing up, our whole life was entangled in the church. Even in the sense that life was put on the backburner because the ministry was first.”
Her father’s commitment to the church was such that it was prioritized above most everything else; this commitment was hard for Ricker to understand as a child.
“The first half of life was like, ‘Oh, my dad neglects me; my dad chooses this first.’”
Ricker recalled one specific time her dad chose the church first. “I remember one birthday party I had to cancel because we had a church missionary conference.”
It was her seventh birthday; one can imagine how hard that would be to understand at that age.
“Before […] really knowing the Lord […], it was frustrating… and what I wanted didn’t match up with what my dad was choosing to do.”
Not only was the family aspect of being a preacher’s daughter different from most, there was also added pressure from the church members for her to uphold a certain standard.
Ricker said about being the preacher’s daughter: “You get pulled apart. [It’s] like you’re under a microscope in so many different ways and if you’re not consciously making decisions in light of that you can really screw things up for you and the testimony of your dad.”
“You have to be so transparent about your mess. Let your mess be your message.”
Being in the spotlight at church was difficult; whether she wanted to be or not, Ricker was seen as a role model for her peers.
“I felt like I was held to a standard that if I didn’t meet it would look less of me.”
Even the schools she went to had preconceived ideas as to how Ricker compared to her peers, simply because of her father’s job as a pastor.
“The school knew who my dad was, so teachers […] expected me to be the model and it was almost like there was no short-cutting […] you couldn’t fall short of what the line was.” For Ricker, that line was far above that of her peers.
“Before knowing the Lord and knowing the mission that we’re called [to], it was frustrating because life didn’t seem fair. When your heart isn’t set on the things the Lord calls you to, things don’t match up.”
It wasn’t until Ricker experienced that heart change that she was able to fully see and appreciate her dad’s job and how she was raised.
Ricker said that heart change happened “when we moved from Maine to South Carolina because we had lived in Maine for as long as I remembered and we left everything comfortable and I had to have my own faith.”
“It wasn’t ‘Hey, lets go to church and have friends!’ it was like, ‘You’re in a new place with a new school and you’re going to have to make choices on your own and be who you are and be who God has called you to be, not because that’s what your friends are doing but because that is what I’ve told you to do.’”
Ricker had just finished 8th grade when they moved. She was thrown into a high school much larger than her middle school, with all new people; that uncomfortable place is where she found and grew her own relationship with Christ.
When asked if being a preacher’s daughter strengthened or hindered her faith, Ricker replied, “Knowledge-wise, it has strengthened and in advice and wisdom. I’ve always had someone who is very knowledgeable around and very close to me to be comfortable with. As far as specific realization as to what is going on and what I need to be in line with, it probably pushed me back a little bit. Because I had all the head knowledge, but my heart wasn’t in it.”
After Ricker experienced that heart change, her mindset about her father’s job changed. Instead of misunderstanding, she was able to admire the fact that “he continuously chooses what the Lord has called him to.”
“I would do it all over again.” Ricker stated confidently. “I wouldn’t change anything about how I was raised; I wish I could change my attitude towards how I was raised when I was younger. I wish I was mature enough to understand what was happening.”
“The biggest blessing was having something that was constant in my life,” Ricker said about growing up in the church. “No matter how much the chaos and the craziness of life came at me, the Lord and who He is […] has been constant.”
Ricker said of her relationship with her father: “To have someone who is a spiritual leader in my dad, in one person who can lead and guide me in the right direction when it comes to life circumstances and spiritually […] I didn’t have to find someone; the Lord just gave him to me.”
Ricker is a freshman at North Greenville University, studying elementary education. Her dream job is to be a third grade teacher.
However, if she could do anything, she would teach foreign children and use that to spread the message of Christ, specifically in a part of the world that is completely out of her comfort zone.
“Greater things happen in uncomfortable places,” Ricker stated.
Ricker has always had a passion for the social injustice for children who have been mistreated. So she hopes to help change that, either here in the states or wherever the Lord leads her.
“The desire to be uncomfortable is an odd desire, but it’s new. But the passion to work with children and to justify what is wrong and to make right situations they can’t control has always been there.”
“I think if my dad [weren’t] so obedient to what the Lord had called him to do, I wouldn’t be where I am today, where my ‘yes’ is on the table whether it’s Africa or the Philippines or South Carolina.”