I was taught early on in life that God is the center of all creation and we should fear Him; for one day we must account for our life. I knew the bible existed, but I never read it. I was told stories out of the bible, but I did not understand the meaning of them. My parents were born, raised and educated through high school in the Catholic faith and neither parent continued on to higher education. My dad joined the Army and was sent to fight in the Vietnam War. My mom became pregnant with me after one year of college. Although neither parent will discuss this era of their life with me, I believe that my parents faced some terrifying events which pulled them away from their faith in God. I grew up in a world of emotional turmoil that would not be conquered until I was in my twenties. To this day, neither parent is close to God; however, I have experienced salvation through Christ. Moreover, my life is much better because of Him.
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As a survivor of unvarying mental and emotional abuse by my father and of consistent bullying I was subjected to during my teenage years in junior high and high school, currently, I have a tendency to be autonomous and not ask for help in fear that I will be rejected, ridiculed or pushed to the edge. Furthermore, the abuse I endured have long lasting effects such as lack of confidence, shy, withdrawn, confused, unfocused, and low self-esteem. After high school, I began drinking alcohol at parties and experimented with marijuana, not because I enjoyed the feeling, but because I fit in with a group of people I called my friends for the first time in my life. I met and dated my boyfriend for three years, lived in sin and became pregnant. I do not think I have ever admitted this before, but subconsciously, I believe I became pregnant on purpose. I grew up with the viewpoint that I would not bring a child into this cold, cruel, meaningless world with so much violence and disease. As it turned out, my daughter was a gift; a chance for me to make a life for me and her. Although I did not marry my daughter’s father, mostly out of fear that I would end up divorced like my parents, we remain very good friends. While he was studying for his Master’s program in college, he developed a personal relationship with Jesus and introduced me to an entirely different world that I grew up knowing. I too, developed a personal relationship with Jesus but it would still be a few more years that I would completely understand what that meant and it would cost me dearly.
I continued to live a very sinful life and found myself dating men that treated me just like my father and bullies. I would do anything to win their approval. I just wanted to feel loved. In the year 2000, I met this man who I fell deeply in love with. He was the furthest thing from a Godly man as you could get. In 2002, he would end up stealing everything I owned and leave me to pick up all the pieces once he moved on. I lost my money, car, my house, my job, my friends, and nearly my daughter. I soon realized it was God letting me know that he was not pleased with my choices so he got my attention dramatically. This time, I turned my life over to God completely and asked him to drive and He has not let me down since.
Volunteering had always been an escape for me. I volunteered with a youth group in high school so I searched for something meaningful I could do as an adult. The Jaycees, a current volunteer group I have been with since August, 2000 has been one of the single most fulfilling journeys I have ever been on. This international organization has opened my eyes to an entire world of both wonderful and tragic ways. I have had the opportunity to be friends with people I would not have otherwise met. I have helped third world countries by providing food, water, shoes, books, toys and malaria nets. I have helped people in my own community by providing financial assistance, food needs, rides to the hospital for medical needs, etc. All the while helping others, I was actually changing my own worldview. I lost my “It is all about me” filter and saw the world had bigger problems than mine. I loved Jesus more than anything and questioned the reasons why God allowed such travesty to occur in His world. To do more, I joined a small group through my church and became committed friends with them. In June 2009, I affirmed my relation with Christ for a second time by being baptized, two years later, my daughter affirmed her relation with Christ.
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Today, I see the world with a completely different set of eyes. Instead of the why me questions with no answers, I pray “what can I do to help someone today” prayer. I have discovered that I am somebody with value, choices, talent, and that I have an enormous amount of love to give and there is an entire world out there that would graciously accept it. My latest prompt from God was to return to school and discover new talents, make new friends and become educated the proper way. The Lord wants me to explore His world through His eyes which is what led me to the Christian College I am at today. Lord is revealing his plan for me like if it was an onion: only peeling one layer off at a time and as long as my heart and mind are wide open, the future holds amazing things for me.
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