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“I didn’t grow up in a very typical Christian home or family,” said Monica, a student involved in Campus Ministry @ Grand Valley State University, a Resonate Global Mission partner in Michigan.

Monica’s parents divorced when she was too young to remember, and her dad had never really gone to church. But when Monica was 8, her mom started taking her to church; by high school, Monica was following Jesus and actively involved in her church.

But then her senior year of high school, she met a boy she really liked. “It was my first serious relationship,” she said. “At first things seemed great, but it quickly became very toxic. He became very controlling.”

Feeling Broken and Worthless

It started with small, seemingly harmless things. At first, Monica didn’t notice. But then it progressed. He told her how she could wear her makeup. What she could and couldn’t wear. Who she could and couldn’t hang out with. If she did anything against his will, he was quick to pick a fight.

“Without realizing it, I was being pulled away from not only my relationships with my friends and family, but I was so distant from God, the times I was at church was nothing more than a routine,” said Monica.

After nearly a year, Monica realized she was in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship. It was hard to walk away, but she broke it off.

“It left me feeling so broken and worthless,” she said. “I was told I was unlovable and that I had no value—and I had no reason to believe otherwise.”

Clinging to Faith

Monica felt as though she had walked away from God, but she clung to her faith. As soon as she started at Grand Valley State University, she plugged into campus ministry to try and restore her relationship with him.

“But I was still broken,” she said. “I felt I needed any love and attention I could get to feel fulfilled. While I was participating in campus ministry, I was also going out and living in some deep darkness.”

“None of this attention brought me the love I was so desperate for.”

God’s Love Heals

Monica knew she needed to change and realized she couldn’t do it on her own, but she was afraid of opening up to her friends from campus ministry. “I was terrified that they could confirm my thought that I really didn’t deserve God’s love and that I was too far gone. I held it all in until I finally broke.”

One day, Monica couldn't hold her pain in anymore. She shared every detail with one of her campus ministry leaders. Rather than feeling rejected, Monica felt loved, accepted, and free.

“From then on, I had someone supporting me and making it easier to [make] the changes I needed,” she said. She has drawn close to her relationships in campus ministry ever since.

“[God] has surrounded me with people who show me the love of God and what it’s like to be in a constant pursuit of relationship with him,” she said. “Romans 5:8 has stuck with me and reminds me every day that even when I was in darkness, when I felt so unworthy of his love, or any love, and when I had gotten so lost, he loved me, and this is why I worship.”