Gone.

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The hardest part about dealing with mental illness as a Christian is the taboo that I must not be saved enough if I’m still dealing with depression.  I must not know Christ enough if my suicidal ideation is so prevalent.  I should probably pray harder if I’m still dealing with sometimes crippling anxiety.  And although I know that God is completely capable of taking all of these things from us; I also know that I can know Him, I can walk with Him, and I can still preach His love within brokenness.

I am seen as a strong survivor; a warrior.  And I AM THAT.  But, I’m also broken and suffer with mental illness that sometimes knocks me to the ground.  Every great warrior gets knocked down.  The difference between a warrior and someone who stops fighting is that a warrior never backs down.  A warrior fights even when there seems to be nothing left worth fighting for.  They fight to remember why they stood behind what they believed in to begin with.

It’s not easy to not always be the ray of sunshine that people see when they look at you.  I want to be that.  I want to be the joy I so often yell about!  I believe wholeheartedly in all of the positive messages I put into the world.  I want to be the good quotes and the great inspiration.  I want to be the smiles and the cheerleader.  I want to be the one jumping up and down and running along side you as you get to the finish line.  But sometimes God says it isn’t so and He holds me as I struggle to roll out of bed.

I say all of this to simply say that it’s okay if you’re struggling today.  It’s okay if you continue to struggle tomorrow.  But, be a warrior.  Fight every day of your life because I guarantee that you bring much more sunshine than darkness to those around you.  Don’t believe the lies that you’re bringing the world down with you.  People are cheering you on and want you to get back on your feet.  I’m under the rock with you but I’m not staying here.  Take my hand; we can do this together.  You matter.

The Confession.

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I have always been an open book when it came to my life and my past.  I’ve never been one to hang my head in shame or deny anything that I’ve lived through.  But, after being deceived into sex trafficking a second time I made a promise to myself to never speak about it openly.  I was trafficked for nearly half a year before I found the strength to find a way out.  Within that year I was sometimes caged like a wild animal; only I couldn’t find any fight left in me.  After I finally escaped that life I held it so deep inside that it seemed like at times I was just the girl watching that happen to someone else.  I was so detached from the reality of what I had lived through that I wanted to believe the lie that it wasn’t true.  Only, it is true and it was true; and it will always be true.

Only three years after living through things you only see in movies I married an Army boy with only one dimple on one cheek, a captivating smile, the strongest jaw line, and the funniest dance moves.  You see this boy found me online and he pursued me so heavily that I fell for himI fell so hard.  Harder than any romantic fairy tale I’ve ever read.  He is the most beautiful story to ever be written in the pages of my life.  He is the music that plays in the background when I feel alone.  He is the laughter that gets me through my darkest days.  He is my soul mate and my biggest fan.  I have been his wife for almost 11 years and that along with our two wild things makes the tormented past I lived through so worth living for.

God wasn’t done with my story because He had picked out this man for me.  Only I couldn’t possibly see that because I was objectified.  Completely and undoubtedly priced and treated like a belonging.  When I married my husband he looked at me in a way no person had ever looked at me before.  He saw me.  He saw me for who I am and not what I had been through.  My husband treats me like his most prized treasure and not like a possession.  He humanized me, he rebuilt me, and he made me believe that I had worth.  God used my husband to show me these things and because of that I told my husband ALL about my past except the part about being trafficked.

I have been married to my husband for almost 11 years and I didn’t tell my husband my entire truth until 2017.  My heart was beating out of my chest and I felt the anxiety grasping tightly around my neck as I tried to get the words out.  “I have to tell you something, something I’ve never told you about”, I said.  He stopped what he was doing and looked at me as I cried and with a worrisome look on his face he asked, “What is it babe? What’s wrong?”  I hung my head so low and I began to tell him my entire story.  “I was sex trafficked babe.  People paid for me.  I am so sorry I never told you until this moment”, I said as I slightly lifted my head to catch a glimpse of his reaction.  I was so afraid to lift my head and face him.  I was so ashamed and so embarrassed.  I thought maybe he would be so disgusted he would stop loving me.

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When I looked up I watched tears streaming down his face and his face was flushed.  I sobbed as I watched the man who doesn’t cry shed tears for me.  I stood still and I prayed for strength to finish the conversation.  He slowly walked right up to me and gently lifted my face with his strong protective hands, “When I look at you I see a strong and beautiful woman.  I see my wife and the mother of our two boys.  I don’t see any of that!  I love you!”  I collapsed into his arms and I wept; we wept.  He held me and in that exact moment I experienced a marital freedom like I’ve never experienced before.  He could have said anything.  He could have had any reaction.  But, he lifted me so high and God wrapped us in His arms.  And that was the beginning of what has become part of my purpose.  The confession; the one I was so afraid to speak for so many years.

In that moment both my husband and I knew that it could no longer be kept a secret.  The silence had to be broken because the testimony is SO LOUD that it has to be heard.  I have been gifted a husband who believes in what I’m doing here.  He believes in what God is doing here.  He has given me his blessing in speaking loudly about so many different things and I have been given the blessing of calling him mine.

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I hope you’re at the edge of your seat because the upcoming blogs are about trafficking and are interviews with two of the most amazing people I know.  If you made it this far, thank you for being part of this movement.

Christiana Vega Photography: http://www.christianavega.com

 

The Rebellion.

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I have always felt I was born to lead a wild rebellion.  As a child I wasn’t quite sure what that looked like so I did everything anyone told me not to do.  As an adult that has turned into fuel to ignite my fire of my pursuit towards my purpose.  When I hear the words she can’t do that; I hear, “She is so going to do that”.  Rebellion has lived in me since birth but it wasn’t until recently I understood what that meant.  Today my rebellion is love.  In a world that is so consumed in division, I have become so consumed in loving people.  I have found a rebellion in empowering women when the world tells me I should tear them apart.  Don’t misunderstand me though; I’ve been a mean girl most of my life.  God looked at the saints and was like WATCH THIS when He transformed me.

I have overcome addiction, homelessness, abuse, and trafficking.  I am a believer, a wife, a boy mom and a business owner.  I’m a tattoo collecting, sometimes bad word slipping (sorry babe), unicorn hair rocking warrior with conservative views.  I’m a wild spirit and my humor is questionable.

So tonight begins a journey into the reality of being a woman in today’s society.  A journey into talking about farts with my wild things.  A dive into what empowering women looks like to me.  A guide to encouragement for my entrepreneurial sisters. A story of how I have overcome demons.  A testimony of why God is so rad.  The bad days with anxiety and depression.  The joyful tears of marriage.  If you’re here to read about a perfect life or how to have a perfect life, you’re in the wrong place.  Let’s take this journey together.  A journey into the rebellion.

I am my own muse, the subject I know best – Frida Kahlo