I first want to thank Jaida for her bravery. Her story is a remarkable one filled with adversity, passion, and courage. I am honored to have had the opportunity to speak with her about her personal journey to Christianity and am thrilled to shed light on her story of how she decided Christianity was the best route for her.
Jaida Gabrielle was 14 years old when her father left her. Soon after, her mother started to neglect her. Missing love from both her parents, she sought for attention and appreciation in the one outlet that was sure to disappoint: adolescent boys.
Putting herself in dire situations, her intense vulnerability was met with horror, facing sexual assault multiple times during high-school.
Jaida continued to seek for the love she missed in high-school throughout college, pouring her heart into complete strangers in hopes of finding what she was looking for.
Eventually, she pursued a relationship with a boy named Tyler and things seemed to finally be falling into place for her.
The Beginning of Her Journey
She continued on this path for a while until her freshman year roommate suggested accompanying her on a Christian ministry trip during spring break.
Jaida was furious at God and for so long.
“If God is so good then why has He let me suffer?” she thought to herself.
Already having plans with her sorority group, Jaida dropped her initial plans as she “felt a calling” to attend this event instead. She faced the wrath of her sorority sisters as she packed her bags for Florida and prepared to face her personal wrath with God head on.
Jaida attended church every day during spring break and was surrounded by positive role models. It was in these times that she felt peace, compassion, and hope. Although she still had her doubts, Jaida developed a new perception of God.
When I asked her how her view of God changed so drastically, she explained by putting it in layman terms, comparing God to a big tough guy.
“ I love the thought of being with a huge man that everyone fears and but he’s tender towards me. Basically that’s God. He can kill you but doesn’t because he really wants to cuddle with you.”
During this time, Jaida achieved a new form of clarity and — to my shock— called her long time boyfriend to break it off with him as she believed they were “not living a life God would be proud of.”
A few months pass and she recognizes the toxicity coming from her sorority. They constantly made fun of her for pursuing Christianity and tried to deter her from the lifestyle. Eventually, Jaida recognized she didn’t have to deal with the negativity she endured and decided to drop her sorority.
In the university Jaida attends, girls are required to send a letter asking for permission to leave the sorority. Most girls say something around the lines of
“money is tight” or
“my grades are slipping.”
However, Jaida was brutally honest in her letter — something her sisters always disapproved of— and divulged all her thoughts on the disrespect they showed when they made fun of her for not partying as often and peer pressuring her to act like an “obedient and respectful” sister when she called girls out on their hurtful actions. As expected, they dropped her with ease.
Jaida, now single and sorority less, attended the same spring break trip as last year and felt more at peace with who she has become. Although Tyler was not toxic, he was a distraction from her relationship with God.
And her sorority girls were just straight up awful.
Her Spiritual Experience
A few days after the spring break trip, Jaida was walking back to her apartment after a long, hard exam as an old lady dressed in colorful rags approached her and said,
"Hey sorry this is weird but I need to be obedient to the Lord. He told me you're going through a hard time right now. He says you're beautiful and there's a light at the end of your tunnel. He said he heard you last night crying alone in your room praying. And he wants you to know that everything is going to be okay.”
Jaida disregarded this message initially as a crazy woman on crack but thought to her herself, I was crying more than I ever have last night…”
And the more she thought about it, the more she felt that this was a message from God, that He heard her cries for help and was using the stranger as a messenger to reassure her everything will be alright.
Her Mission Trip (not a western savior one)
Still doubting her faith but continuing on her spiritual journey, Jaida traveled to France after her sophomore year to help assist prostitutes and Syrian refugees, providing resources and spreading the word of God. Most of the prostitutes brushed off her evangelism attempts except for one.
As Jaida divulged her own journey of seeking love from mortal men to finally being comforted by God, she caught the attention of a woman who was battling with the idea of Christianity for a long time.
Linda was 11 years old when she was raped by 2 men. When her father found out, he sought to kill her as he sickly believed her virginity was some prized possession and without it his daughter was useless. Linda spent her childhood migrating from Romania to France to escape her murderous father. She spent her days in a orphanage led by Christian nuns. Linda felt mistreated by the nuns and, as a result, her image of Christianity was tarnished at a young age. But Linda took Jaida’s presence and personal tribute to Christianity as a sign that she too should try to be Christian.
Linda’s decision to try to build a relationship with God struck a chord with Jaida as she was reassured her choice to pursue Christianity was the right decision for her.
Now more grounded in her faith, Jaida returned home with a commitment to live a life God would be proud of. Thinking back to Tyler, she wanted to try again with him but only if they put God at the center. Tyler and Jaida both underwent major spiritual transformations during this time and decided to date again in a way that aligned with their new way of life. Now, they are in a committed relationship that places God at the forefront.
What I love most about Jaida’s story was her dedication to seek for God . She could have stayed in her loving relationship with Tyler when she knew their relationship was not centered around God. She could have went on the spring break beach trip with her sorority sisters that was already planned. She could have succumbed to the negativity and acted the way they wanted her to in order to make friends. But Jaida, already enduring a tough life, took the hard route. She pursued a faith head first, cutting off relationships that were not helping her grow. She made last minute changes because she wanted to attend an event to better herself. She went on a mission trip to spread her faith helping others, especially Linda who, thanks to Jaida, has started to read the Bible and build a relationship with God.
Jaida, by definition, was a seeker. And she found exactly what she was looking for in a beautiful faith called Christianity.