By Daniela Aguilar
Purity + Peace participant at City Wide Church
When I first came across Purity + Peace I had been searching for a sense of community for a long time.
I had been out of church for a couple of years and had finally become a member at a church that felt like home. I was eager to make new friends and build relationships with other women, but had no idea what to expect.
I remember flipping through the study materials a couple of days before the first session and feeling nervous:
the reflection questions inside the guide were raw, real, and extremely personal.
ON SECOND THOUGHT...
If I’m being totally honest, I started having second thoughts about attending the first session.
I was crippled by the thought that I would be asked to share some of these answers with other women, women I often saw at church but didn't really know.
I feared that:
maybe I would be judged,
that my personal stories would cause the women to look at me differently,
and that my flaws and weaknesses would be exposed to a group of women who seemed to have it all together.
In short, I was terrified.
HERE IT GOES...
For the next eight weeks I heard stories from women who came from all walks of life.
The diversity amongst us made for incredible conversations and the opportunity to share different perspectives. Week by week I saw women open up and share their deepest secrets;
I saw them cry,
and lift up one another.
I usually sat back and listened most of the time, reveling in their stories and the lessons they provided.
And then I shared.
I opened up to the group regarding my experience of childhood trauma.
I remember feeling my heart beating so fast, I swore the other women could hear it in the room. As I spoke, I felt fearful.
I feared having to share this experience because I was afraid to expose the broken state that I found myself in and ashamed to admit that I was in desperate need of healing.
I looked up to meet the eyes of all the women in the room, nervous to see their reactions.
Instead of finding shocked faces, I was met with
I felt the atmosphere shift at that moment and suddenly found myself talking more about my experience and being transparent about the way it had affected me. After I was done, I was bombarded with encouraging words and testimonies from other women in the group who shared a similar experience to mine.
Needless to say, I ugly-cried throughout that entire session.
My first session of Purity + Peace served as a conduit for God to show me all the areas of my life that He wanted to touch and heal,
including the deepest, darkest parts of my heart
that I often tried my hardest to ignore.
Up until these sessions, I thought I was in pretty good shape-figuratively speaking.
I didn't think of myself as someone in need of healing because I thought I had done a pretty good job of compartmentalizing my traumas and considered myself a “happy person.”
But each week I felt God peeling back the layers that I had so carefully wrapped myself in.
He used every question,
every Bible verse
and every story as a tool to kickstart a real work of healing in me.
The second round (yes I came back for more!) was about taking accountability for my healing.
With love and encouragement from the Purity + Peace leadership,
I started seeing a therapist and came to appreciate the importance of finding healing through my relationship with God.
I still have a long way to go in this journey, but I remain eternally grateful for Purity + Peace and all the women that helped create a safe space for me to be my most vulnerable and authentic self.