Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how difficult it is to persevere without family support. So many people I know from our community are strong, but life seems to throw them curve ball, after curve ball. I often wonder why they don’t give up. How they find the motivation to keep their heads up. Here are two stories of young ladies I know that didn’t have positive role models or support in their lives.
Maria 21-years-old and lives with her mom, sister, brother and her 4-year-old son. She has been raising Jr. on her own since he was 6 months old, because her boyfriend was caught with drugs and was arrested. Ever since, Maria and Jr. haven’t had any communication with the dad.
Maria finds it hard to raise Jr. without the support of her family. She works two part time jobs (minimum wage) and she also receives money & food assistance from Welfare. She has to pay rent, a baby sitter and provide groceries for her brothers and mom. About 4 months ago Maria lost her part time job (working at a pizza place). Now, she only has her job at the library (10 hours a week), and to top it off, she is receiving less money from food stamps. Her and her mom had been having a lot of problems lately because Maria can no longer pay rent money, so her mom kicked her out. She’s been living at a shelter with her son ever since. About 2 months ago, her car got towed because she was driving on a suspended license. Lately, I’ve been seeing Maria with multiple guys and have heard a couple of rumors about her selling her body. I really want to help her yet I don’t know how to approach her about this situation. I’m scared to ask her if she’s been sleeping with men for money, because I don’t know how she will react. What would you do?
Olga is a 21-year-old, and a close friend of mine. Olga also has a 5-year-old son. When I first met Olga she was 16-years-old and we became instant friends. Olga had been in and out of Jail since she was 15-years-old until she was 19-years-old. The main reason why Olga was in and out of jail was because she would hang out with the wrong crowd. She used to also fight a lot.
Loyalty is huge for Olga. Her friends were the most important part of her life besides her son. Growing up she didn’t really have the support of her parents. Her parents were Christian and always blamed her for being a “bad girl” they would always put her down telling her how she was a bad influence to her younger brothers and sisters. Her dad always treated her differently; it was as if he held a grudge towards her for not being who he wanted her to be. I knew exactly what she was going through, and knew I could help her if only she was willing to surrender it all to God.
One Sunday morning I was getting ready to go to church and Olga asked if she could come with me. I was so happy that she had finally decided to join me (I had invited her multiple times, but she never wanted to go) in our way there I asked her what made her want to come. She said, that she had been observing the way I was living my life now vs. how I used to live my life before.
She said, “ I always see you with a smile, yet you are going through a lot!” “How do you manage to stay happy?”
I felt like this was the perfect time to share with her how much God was doing in my life. I shared with her the reasons why I stopped hanging out with our mutual friends. Because she was so loyal to her friends, I didn't think she would understand that I felt like being around them just made me want to get into trouble. We were always seeking to have a good time, yet never talked about our future plans. We were stuck in the same little box. I wanted to do different things I wanted to learn from someone that could teach me how to live my life better, healthier. Make better decisions that would impact my daughter and me in a positive way, rather then being the same ordinary girl from the “town”. Olga started attending church with me every Sunday. She went from having no type of relationship with God to actually attending a few bible study classes with me. I’m very happy to see how much she’s changed her old ways. I can see a different Olga now. An Olga that even though she goes through hard times, she still decides to make good choices. Her relationship with her parents has improved as well.
Although both of these stories aren’t finished, Olga’s path has changed and Maria’s has not. I think the major difference is that Olga has positive people in her life, friends she can depend on, and God. In both Maria’s and Olga’s story, they didn’t make the best decisions, but they also didn’t have the support and role models to make better choices when they were young. They both felt like huge disappointments. What I think my friend’s need, and others in similar situations, are people to believe in them, to encourage them, and to support them through the hard times.