“I guess the root of my entire story is that I never felt enough. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I never felt enough for anyone. I wanted to be bubbly, happy-go-lucky, outgoing, but I just wasn’t. I was shy, awkward, and had zero friends. My mom came from the Philippines, so she was raised in a totally different culture than we are in America. There you’re taught to get things done, make everyone satisfied and that’s how you succeed. We always had full bellies, clean clothes, and a clean house, but there was hardly a relationship there. This was so hard for me! I was caught in a place of thankfulness for what my mom did for us. Yet, I was so empty because I felt like I never had an intentional, meaningful and nurturing relationship with my mom or my dad. So, picture this: braces, glasses, awkward, lonely…. That was me at 14. I had a shy personality. You could barely get me to tell anyone my name, much less have an actual conversation with them. Even in the midst of that shy shell, I knew that my deepest desire was to be enough. I never knew what it was like to be chased after or pursued; not by my parents, not by boys, not by anyone, but I knew that I wanted it. A couple months later, I got my braces off and traded my glasses for contacts. This was HUGE for me. I felt confident to break out of my shell. There was a boldness in me that was different than before. This was it. I was becoming who I always wanted to be. My freshman year of High School, I met my first boyfriend. To go even further, my first everything. As I mentioned earlier, I’d never had someone pursue me. So you can imagine, the idea of someone loving me ‘unconditionally’ and promising ‘forever’ was something I was not letting go of. Within a month of us dating, I gave my virginity to him, started partying, and really fell into that lifestyle. There was always something inside of me that made me feel guilty and ashamed. However, I loved the attention and the worth I felt from my boyfriend and friends. Due to the attention, I ignored the guilt and shame. My life SEEMED like it was perfect, but truly it was so far from that.

Fast forward about a year later, I’m still hanging out with the same friends, dating the same guy, living the same life when everything changes for me. It was a week after I turned fifteen when my boyfriend and I had sex without protection. I always thought, ‘I’m not that worried, it won’t happen to me.’ Little did I know, it would. About two months after my birthday, I found out I was pregnant. That’s right… fifteen, a sophomore in high school, and pregnant. This isn’t what I dreamed of, this isn’t what I planned, but this was happening. My first thought was abortion, but my family grew up Catholic so that wasn’t an option. My next thought was adoption. The issue when wanting to give up a child was never a lack of love, but a lack of responsibility. I didn’t want to be responsible for a child. I barely had my life together! I wouldn’t be able to go to spring break if I had a baby. I wouldn’t be invited to the same parties if I had a baby. There’s no way I was keeping it! When I told my parents, obviously abortion wasn’t an option and they explained adoption in depth. When I realized all it took, I knew I couldn’t do it. The attachment I would have to this baby nine months later would be even stronger than what I felt at this moment. This was it– I was keeping and raising this baby whether I could or not. I kept thinking, ‘I have great friends, a great boyfriend, and a great life…but I’m pregnant.’ My prayer as a pregnant fifteen-year-old wasn’t ‘God, give me the ability to raise this baby.’ My prayer was ‘God, give this baby to someone who needs it.’

After I had Aden, I fell back into the partying scene. I stopped dating Aden’s dad and began dating a new guy. We had an apartment together and I genuinely thought I was going to be with him ‘forever’. Until one day I came home to an empty apartment, no money and a baby to raise by myself. This was probably the loneliest and darkest place of my life. I sat there on the empty floor and asked myself, ‘Asia, when was the last time you were truly happy?’ No matter what I drank, I had no substance. No matter how hard I tried, I had no friends. No matter what I gave up, I had no boyfriend and no identity. How was I going to fix this?

I remembered a time when I was truly happy. I was a teenager in ICON. Even though I wasn’t living right in my teenage year, I remembered lessons we learned and worship songs we sang. In this moment of complete destruction, I decided to come back to City Hope and try to get my life together again. God was working in me, I felt loved and cared for by God, but I still craved good friendships. After about a year of just coming by myself, Pastor Josh asked me to lead a small group at South with this girl named Lori. All I could hear was the enemy saying, ‘You? You’re 20 with a baby. What do you have to offer to these girls?’ but God said something different. I went to the small group and fell in love with the community. They didn’t care that I had a son or who I used to be. They love me and pursue me for who I am now. I started getting involved in our college ministry, VIEW. I have met even more people to surround myself with that love Jesus and want to make His name known to people. I’m genuinely mind blown at how God took me: the girl, who on paper should’ve never made it, and gave me worth. He gave me an identity, He gave me community, and He met my needs. I wanted to share this story with you not that you’d feel pity for me or be sad, but that you would rise above your circumstance. Maybe you’re not fifteen and pregnant, but you could be thirty-five and lonely. Either way, God wants to use you! You are worth it. The creator of the universe is in constant pursuit of YOU! God has a purpose and a plan for your life. That purpose may be different than you envision, but in the end, He makes beauty from the ashes. If you’re praying for a community, relationship, value, worth, or even a need to be met, keep praying! Keep trusting God to fulfill it because I promise you, He will do it. Then He’ll do it again. Wait on Him!”