Misty Gonzales is the Founder and Executive Director of JEWELS. Her story is an amazing journey and well worth the read.
Misty’s story is also featured in “When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts” by Cindi McMenamin. For more information or to purchase this book, please visit Strength For The Soul.
After experiencing an unwanted sexual encounter that resulted in public shame and rejection afterward, my views about myself, love, sex, and men ultimately became distorted. My reality took a dramatic dark turn from that point on.
For two decades I was involved in multiple failed, abusive, and dysfunctional relationships. I found myself a single mother two separate times and on a sensational desperate search to be loved. I repeatedly looked to men to save me, add value to my life, and fix what was broken. I ran from one disaster to another in search of something or someone who would finally complete me.
The constant string of rejection and failed relationships only fueled the pain and hurt I was functioning out of and in my anger and rage of men constantly disappointing and leaving me, I took matters into my own hands. I became desperate and determined to survive on my own and support my children. I made the decision to become a stripper one night after working as a cocktail at a local strip club. I really thought it was the answer that would allow me to independently support myself and children.
I was really nervous the first night I started dancing. I kept telling myself that it was not a big deal and I reminded myself of all that I would lose if I didn’t do it. Truthfully, I couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to support my children. My plan at the time was supposed to be a quick fix to make ends meet until I could pursue other options and move on. Ultimately, that plan failed and I ended up dancing for the next ten years. I found myself caught in a revolving cycle and in many situations that I never expected.
Dancing allowed me to provide in ways I had never been able to before and I thought that I had truly found freedom. However, this freedom came with a HUGE price. I became numb to my reality and used alcohol and a variety of different drugs to cope and escape. I mentally checked out and the decision ultimately ended up costing me much more than I had bargained for. I was on a dark road that repelled everything I was searching for. Love and stability eluded me and eventually everything came crashing down around me as my life spun out of control.
I started partying even more and lost touch with reality. I lied to everyone around me and denied that I had a problem with anything. Overtime I became depressed and hated living life. Everything about my life had become a total lie. There were many times that I had absolutely no hope or desire to go on. I hated what I had become, especially as a mother. My whole purpose and reason for dancing was to take care of us and the opposite happened. I lost custody of my daughter and was devastated! I felt worthless, but I also felt trapped. I couldn’t see a way out and my choices ended up taking a toll on every single person around me and effected every relationship I had. I was hurting everyone I loved, but I had no idea how to make it stop.
I was encouraged to leave the industry and became engaged to get married in 2009, but shortly after the proposal, I was devastated by the news of his sudden and unexpected death. I once again resorted to escape the pain with pills and ended up sedating myself for weeks. It was then that the incredibly long two decade painful cycle came to an end and I officially hit rock bottom. I had nowhere to turn and found myself homeless. My eyes were opened to my reality and for the first time I saw my life and choices for what they really were. I was completely and utterly broken and cried out to God for help.
A couple of days later I confided in a friend that I needed help and I arrived at a safe home. I showed up with my son and a few belongings in the car, terrified out of my mind. I could not believe that I was literally to the point of showing up to a total stranger’s house. I was living my worst night mare! All these years I had tried to avoid this very moment. Everything came crashing down to the very place I had feared the most. But I knew God had heard my cry for help and I was very thankful for a safe place to be. It was there that I started believing that God was REAL!
The family I stayed with showed me compassion and kindness. They encouraged me and showed me unconditional love. I was so amazed by the fact that complete strangers would take me into their home. Especially after spilling everything about my past, but they never judged me or made me feel like I was below them. They took me and my children in as if we were their own family. They invited me to come along with them to a Christian church they attended. They told me that I was never expected to go or that it was a requirement to be able to stay with them, but I really wanted to go. I was in such a dark place and I was very bitter, angry, hurt, and without any hope.
My first time attending church I listened as bible verses filled up the screen in front of me. As I read them and listened to what the Pastor was saying, it felt as if every single word was written just for me. It spoke to my broken, lifeless soul. That is the moment that I knew I wanted and NEEDED more. I could not get enough of the words, the promises, and the truth that was filling up every crack of my broken heart. With every word I read, life and hope started entering my soul again.
I had so much regret and it was so painful to think of all the destruction I had caused in not only my life, but in every single person’s life that I loved. I cried and told God how much I just wanted to make things right and I asked Him to forgive me. I started looking at myself and the choices I had made that led up to that horrific fall and I started taking ownership and responsibility for my part in everything. I faced things about myself that I hadn’t wanted to face for years. Although it was not pretty, I finally faced my truth and stopped running. I looked to God for hope. I believed that He had a plan for my life, because I certainly did not. I held on to His promises that He would never leave or forsake me and I trusted Him to get me through each and every single day.
There were many dark days that turned into months and I mostly cried through them, but I kept making the decision to keep going and keep choosing to believe Him. Even when it hurt and I felt confused by circumstances that did not make much sense and were hard. It was there in my darkest moments, where although I felt so alone and everything was such a giant mess, I really found that I wasn’t alone at all.
The lies I had believed about myself started to be replaced with truth. I had been searching for love and acceptance my whole entire life but it always eluded me. I tried everything there was in the world to fill that emptiness and could never figure out why nothing ever worked or lasted. I put impossible expectations on people and I searched constantly for someone to “rescue” me.
I finally found my Rescuer, Jesus Christ. He has comforted, provided, and carried me through some very dark days. He is completely changing me from the inside out and healing my broken heart. I am being healed and my life is being transformed because of Him. I have finally found REAL freedom.
I am no longer running from my pain or trying to cover anything up. I am facing my fears and He is helping me walk through each and every day. I have been FORGIVEN and that has allowed me to forgive myself. I am no longer held captive to my past, failures, or pain. He is making me whole and the emptiness that once controlled me and led me down a path of destruction has now been filled by God’s REAL love!
I now know my real worth and value regardless of whether the world or anyone in it tries to tell me differently. My faith and hope is no longer found in anything temporary. It is only found in the truth of God, the true love and promises of JESUS, and that is something that can NEVER be taken away.
By placing my faith in God and surrendering my entire life to Him, He is transforming everything! Life may not work out the way I want or plan, but I am learning to trust His plans and sovereign control over my life. He has blessed my life with a godly man and I am now a wife and mother to four beautiful children. My relationships are being restored and I am on an incredible journey of restoration and healing with Him.
He is changing my heart and the way I see this world. I no longer want to chase after things that don’t satisfy. My desires are changing naturally into things that are healthier and more positive. I now live a life that is full of meaning and purpose and my pain has now developed into a passion to help others.
I am still a work in progress and I know I am not perfect. I am still learning and growing, but the more I continue to walk with Jesus, the more I change. I have become filled with joy, peace, compassion, forgiveness, and grace and I am able to extend these things to others because I know I have been so graciously been given this understanding by Him.
I know how cruel and empty this world can be and how quick you can find yourself in a place you never thought you would be. I am here to tell you that you are not alone and that there is a way out!
THERE IS HOPE! You are never too far for Him to reach. God loves you exactly where you are!
You don’t have to have it all figured out or be in a place where you feel put together to come to God. In fact, He already knows you don’t have it all together and still wants to have a relationship with you! He wants to radically change your life and bring you healing. You do matter and you are loved more than you could ever wrap your mind around!
You are a precious JEWEL to Him and you have worth beyond what you know and see. You were uniquely created by Him and He made you beautiful and wants you to shine!
I encourage you to contact us and find out how we can help and support you right where you are. There are people who understand, love, and care about you and are here to help, including me.