Our #IKnowHim story today was submitted by Bailey Aguilar, who shares how throughout the different circumstances of her life, God’s goodness was evident in the freedom and healing she found in Him at every turn.
From the time I was a little girl I knew that God was real and that He loved and cared for all His children. As I got older, however, I really struggled with the idea of truly feeling loved and cared for, even with a huge support system around me. When I was about seven years old my parents divorced, and I struggled with that all my childhood and even into adulthood. We spent many of our days fighting custody battles in the courtroom. To be honest, my brother and I have had to go to court for custody battles more times than I can even count. The divorce and the trauma caused me to struggle with the idea of a loving God. I questioned time and time again why God would let these things happen to us if he really loved us. The thought of overcoming my circumstances or seeking truth and a lesson from God in the midst of pain never even crossed my mind.
When I turned 16 I decided to move in with my dad. At first, everything was great and it seemed perfect. Once the initial excitement of this big change wore off, it took a turn for the worse. My dad started making me feel bad for who I was. He would constantly degrade me and discourage me, speaking lies and planting such negative thoughts in my mind. He would tell me that I was worthless “just like my mother” and other negative things. I consistently felt that I had to earn his approval and his love. I desperately wanted these two things from him, I wanted so badly to have that special relationship that so many girls have with their dads. I turned myself inside out trying to be everything he wanted me to be, but it was never enough. He always wanted more or something different. He mentally, emotionally and verbally abused me to the point where I just started secluding myself. I started staying at home because I didn’t want anyone to know how bad it had gotten. I had become anxious about everything. I stopped eating because I was so stressed out and overwhelmed. After turmoil and so much pain caused by my father, I had had enough and decided I wanted to leave. However, I didn’t think I had anywhere to go because my mom and step-dad were out of the country. I was scared, and I didn’t know what to do, where to turn, or where to go. I reached out to my grandma, and she graciously allowed me to live with her temporarily. I stayed with my her until my mom and step dad came back from Africa. She was just one example of the people God had given me to show me is unconditional love.
It took me years to really heal from the abuse. I ended up with extreme anxiety, causing panic attacks particularly when he attempted to speak with me. As I got older and became an adult, my anxiety then turned into depression. I thought I had overcome everything that he did to me, but in all reality, I just avoided dealing with the issue, which made my anxiety and depression worse. Now I know that God used my anxiety and depression to help me heal and overcome the things that I had ran from for so long. Now I can live in God’s freedom and can see the way that He loves me. He has continually proved Himself to me through the way He uses others. For example, years later, my “step-dad” adopted me. He went through the whole process and made sure that he could “officially” call me his daughter even though he had always thought of me as me his daughter from the time he and my mom got married. He has continually showed me Christ’s love and what love looks like coming from our Heavenly Father. He has always made sure that I felt loved and adored. Through my now “official” dad, I have seen God’s faithful love and how God continually pursues us no matter what we have done. His love is not conditional. What I realized through all of this, is that even though I didn’t see a way out of my situation God had a plan much bigger and better than anything I could’ve imagined. No matter how bad the situation was, God proved Himself to me through others by showing me how much they loved me and how they wanted the best for me.
Flash forward to a year ago to when I was engaged to my high school sweetheart. We had been engaged for a little over a year and were planning on getting married in August 2017. I was incredibly excited and couldn’t wait to get married. From the time I was a little girl I had always dreamed of one day getting married and starting my own family. I was still in college and about to take the last of my finals when I found out that I was pregnant. I was honestly devastated. I was terrified. I was scared of becoming a mother at only 21 years old. I was scared of what my parents would say, and I was scared of what others would think of me. The only thing that I held onto to encourage me was Nahum 1:7 which says; “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him,”. I was really struggling with the idea of being pregnant, but I kept having to remind myself of how our God is a good God who takes care of us gives us refuge. My husband and I ended up getting married in June of 2017. After the wedding, I moved to Vernon, Texas, with my husband where he had a job at the fire department. I felt lonely, secluded, and was still terrified of being pregnant. I fell into a deeper depression, knowing that I didn’t have anyone around me that I knew or loved when I was struggling. I was filled with shame and guilt because of what I did. I also struggled with the fact that I didn’t want to be pregnant because I knew that so many women struggled with infertility, and I was lucky enough to not be going through that. I also would get frustrated with myself for being so depressed about the situation because this was something that I had dreamed of my whole life, and it was finally here and I couldn’t get myself to be excited. I felt like there was something wrong with me.
I found myself becoming very frustrated with God again, wondering why He would allow me to be in this situation. During our time in Vernon, God worked in my heart and helped me heal and overcome the things that I was holding onto. I was finally able to surrender the things that God had been asking me to surrender to Him for a long time. He had asked me to surrender those things so I could live in freedom. I finally learned that I didn’t have to carry around my guilt and shame that I had been so burdened by. It sounds so simple, but it was such a hard thing for me to learn and come to terms with. Through my loneliness and struggle while we were in Vernon, I was able to see what God had been asking me to do for a long time. I was able to surrender my burdens and start living in joy and freedom.
Since my daughter has been born, I have learned about a whole new kind of love. I have learned what true and pure love looks like, and that’s the kind of love that Christ has for us. Pure, true, unconditional, and holy love. The kind of love that overwhelms you. Throughout my life, God has continually used others to show the kind of love He has for his children, and it has been an incredible journey. Here’s my challenge to you, one that I wish someone had challenged me with a long time ago – instead of asking God why he is letting something happen to you or why God is doing something to you, ask God what He is trying to teach you, ask him how he is trying to grow you, and ask him to show you his love for you.
If you are struggling with anxiety/depression I would love to talk with you about it and pray with you through it. You are not alone! If you are thinking about suicide, call this is the number 1-800-273-8255. Don’t go through this alone – you are loved!