As told to Rachel Lauve
If I hadn’t gone to youth group that day, I’d either be pregnant, a high school dropout, or I wouldn’t even be here at all.
I don’t even talk to the girl who invited me to youth group anymore. She fell off the face of the earth, and we’re obviously not friends anymore, but the point is that she led me to Monica, and Monica led me back to Christ.
I walked into that youth group wearing booty shorts and a tank top. At that point in my life, I was confused, but was seeking, was just going through the motions, but I could answer questions about the Bible easily enough; what Monica saw beyond that was a willingness to learn and grow.
Initially? I just saw that she seemed crazy. She’d be all, “Hi! I’m Monica!” and later on, when she’d ask me about whether or not I’d skipped school, I would just think, “Who are you?” There was no way she could have known these things, but from the moment I met her to now, she’s been my biggest cheerleader. Whether she was sitting in the stands at one of my volleyball games, walking through a tough time with me, or driving around in a car listening to my words, she was present.
In moments when I felt so confused and was having a breakdown, she chose to be present.
In moments when I was super excited and wanted her to be the first to know about something, she chose to be present. When I had a question about what God was doing or doubting and needed that guidance, she chose to be present. Her presence meant so much and impacted me in so many ways.
Walking with me was no walk in the park, and she would probably tell you that. I struggled with a lot of things. She did everything for me that she could, and stuck by me through everything, from when I got kicked off the church bus for lighting a cigarette to the times when I sought out every escape mechanism I could, from pornography to periodic cutting to anorexia. I was trying everything possible to run away from life, and there were times that I tried to push her away, too, but I knew I didn’t want her to go away.
I just had to see if she was the real thing–it wasn’t even intentional, but I was paranoid she wouldn’t stay and so I tested her to see whether or not she actually would. And she was the real thing, of course she was–she was here for the long haul and told me as much.
Even when I wouldn’t be able to look her in the eye, ashamed of what I was doing to myself and just shutting down because I thought I had disappointed her, she would have me turn to her and look at her, and it was then that she’d tell me she loved me. Those words meant so much in those moments because I knew that she meant them, and I knew she was saying them for the right reason, too.
She wasn’t my Savior, but she led me to my Savior. She always told me that she was following the call of her Savior, and even now, she points me back to Christ. She walked with me when my truth was deceived, when I was trapped in a cycle of sin. One time she got down on her knees, and began sobbing and praying for God to intervene. At the time I was angry, but looking back, the love this woman had, and still has, for me was unbelievable.
I put her through hell, but all she had was love for me. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t always the type of love that I wanted. Take any normal, insecure preteen, but multiply that by five, and you had me. She wasn’t afraid of giving me tough love, either. I can still remember when I was going through the beginning stages of an eating disorder, when I was trying to use that as a way to escape, when she just pulled me aside, got in my face asked me what I was doing.
She didn’t know how to help, at first, but she wanted to so badly and was just there for me. Whenever I needed to talk, if I was having a panic attack, even if it was in the middle of the night, if I was feeling suicidal, she would just be a phone call or text away, always pointing me back to scripture—Psalm 91 and Philippians 1:6 are two of my favorites that she would point me to.
My relationship with Monica is more than just about the difficult times, though. We’ve had fun, and I would just tag along with her life, from car rides, to holidays. We did life together, whether that was changing a tire or celebrating Thanksgiving. One time, she even took me all the way to Chicago, following through on her promise of taking me if I won the Project Leadership Senior Portfolio. We spent the whole day laughing and exploring the city together, even going on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. Some of my favorite memories with her are of her studying scripture or preparing a message — just sitting next to her and talking back and forth about Jesus and applying the Bible are just some of my favorite things that I’ve done with her. She’s been there in my dark times and in my brightest times.
I felt safe with Monica, and I’d surrounded myself with people who weren’t safe before—well, they felt safe to me, but they definitely weren’t safe from an adult perspective. Monica was actually and wholly safe—she has a passion for teenagers, she is fun to be around, her character is always consistent, and she loves Jesus. She listened and allowed me to use my own voice, giving me wisdom with grace in her words and leading me to Jesus along the way.
I’m free now from the chains that held me captive, thanks to Jesus, but also thanks to Monica who never gave up on me, who stood in the gap in prayer and chose to love me. I’m no longer the girl who cut herself or the girl who had an eating disorder-I’m someone who’s living in freedom, whose relationship with God is stronger than ever and who wants to work with abused teenaged girls. I’m living a life that I tried to escape from and am excited for this new journey, for continuing to walk through life with Monica. Because of her willingness to walk with me, my life is different than what it would have been if she hadn’t been obedient to the call of Jesus Christ.
Rachel Lauve is a senior at Ball State University pursuing a degree in English education with a minor in creative writing. She is also a member of Ball State’s Honors College, is passionate about working as a writer with her future students, and hopes to eventually teach on the college level.
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This story originally appeared in Mentoring in Muncie, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware County in Muncie, Indiana.