Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Full Circle

Ten years ago I met a girl online who would later become my first roommate in college. We were fast friends, taking college by storm. Well, maybe not by storm. But I loved her like crazy and I tried my best to look out for her. You see, she and I came from very different worlds. In fact, the only real thing we had in common was the love of writing...and Jesus. But it didn't matter. We became nearly inseparable for the first several months. I won't get into the nitty gritty of how we started to drift apart; but it happened and soon summer came. Little did I know, I would only be in touch with her for a few more years. She came back to Southeastern for sophomore year but headed to St. Leo University after that. It wasn't long after I married my husband that we lost touch completely. 

I wanted to tell her when we found out we were pregnant, but couldn't find her. I've actually been searching for her for years. Years. Crazy right? Every few months, I'd run a search on Facebook or Google, typing in anything I knew about her or locations that I thought she might be. I could never really find anything. As a matter of fact, my last search of her was just a few weeks ago. 

Then, enter Saturday night. I received a direct message through Instagram (my first ever). I didn't recognize the username as anyone I followed and I was supposed to approve a picture they sent to me. Um, sketchy. But as I peered at the little thumbnail photo, I new I recognized that tiny little side profile. I immediately opened it up and lo and behold, it was HER! I squealed! "You found me!" I wrote back. "I've been searching for you forever." We chatted on Instagram for a bit before agreeing to chat on the phone the following day.  

On Sunday, before I was expecting her call, I ran another search on Google...only this time I ran it with her new last name. She changed her last name which is why I could never find anything. She had been adopted! My search led me to part of her story and as much as I knew about her scarred life before, nothing prepared me for what I read. There was so much more darkness she'd walked, crawled, and run through than I could believe. She called me right after and we talked for an hour about her life...about what we'd missed....and about how wonderful her life is now. 

Friends, my sweet college roommate is a survivor. Of course, I already knew a few things she was a survivor of: eating disorders, cutting, alcoholism, rape...to name a few. But I learned that this sweet friend of mine was a sex trafficking survivor. Sold by her own parents at age 6, she spent the next almost 2 decades living in that lifestyle, perhaps even in the time we lived together...and I never knew it. I was dumbfounded! But by the grace of God, her story didn't end there. As she recounted the last 5 years of healing for her, tears streamed down my face. I only ever wanted good things for her. I wanted her to get the help she needed and oh, did she get it. She's now living in a safe house in California as a big sister and mentor to the girls they rescue. Her adopted mom is a modern day abolitionist doing amazing work for the anti human trafficking movement through her organization Courage Worldwide and I cannot thank God enough for finally giving her the mother and father she deserves.

She has such an amazing story of redemption and grace and I am so thankful that 10 years later, she is doing amazing things and changing lives. She sure changed mine a decade ago. From our first connection online 10 years ago to our re-connection this weekend online, we have certainly had a full circle reunion of sorts. And words will never be able to express how grateful I am!

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