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Rescued by Love  (5:28)

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Video transcript:

I am born to 16-year-old parents, Derek and Ebony. They already have a child, Jasmine. Trying to grow up and come of age, but time goes by too fast. It's never enough days to do what you want and what you need to.

They try in their own way, but with my mom we move around a lot: the green house on 10th street, the apartments on 9th street, the duplex on Sierra Way. Warm Springs Elementary, E. Neal Roberts Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Henry Elementary, Hughbanks Elementary.

I am 6. I slide my hand under the couch and find a gun. Could it be the same gun that I see in my mom's boyfriend's hand pointing at my dad, and I can't warn him cause I'm sitting in the backseat of the enemy? Well, I just put it back and keep playing make believe. Never knew I would perfect the game.

And here's another one a girl babysitter likes to play. "Take off all your clothes cause it's hot" and I'll put my hands in places they are not supposed to be. So there is shame that makes me questions my sexuality, and guilt and fear that makes me tell no one.

My father's house is not his own. He needs to leave California if he wants to keep breathing and preserve the right to roam freely. He's caught up with some people, selling things, getting pulled over in stolen cars. So to grandma's house I go. Grandma is here, my older sister, Jasmine and Uncle Josh too. But I still feel alone, and like I'll never really belong.

I am 11. I pack a suit case and say I'm running away. I don't but I feel justified to. I should be with my own mom and dad like I am supposed to. Yet this is the love I know--leaving somebody to care for your child, waiting for your calls, happy birthday cards from the mail instead of from your hands, growing up too fast, no hugs on special days waiting 5 years to see your face. Momma says, "I'm coming out for Thanksgiving," but I wait all night. Daddy says things like, "I am here for you," when he is really there. Mississippi is 2000 miles away and you can't actually come when I need you, especially if the other kids need you too.

I am 16. Love is for suckas cause I see momma get suckas punched by a man who says he loved her. Love is for suckas. Happy marriages? I see 5 divorces in my family. Love is for suckas, cause I'm always pursued by suckas--Lavi and Ashface and whoever else, and they always have girls friends. "But you, you special. You're the real deal, and I'll leave her to get with you. For real!" Right and I'm supposed to be dumb? So to me they are all the same.

Everyone will hurt me eventually, so I figure it is better not to hold on cause then I have nothing to lose. And since the perfect life I can't choose, I live it anyway. My rules. No one see the pain. No one gets a chance to come close. I'll make you see that nothing is wrong with me. I mask all my flaws and imperfections and insecurities ever so well, that even I think it's the real me.

But a fraud I am, cause I'm not who I think I am. A fraud I am because I am what I think I am not, and don't want to be...broken, admitting that there really is pain and that I need someone to come close, because all of this is too much for me to bare.

I've seen failed coping mechanisms of drugs and alcohol, but I say not for me. It shows I'm weak. So I try to hold my own on my own but I realize my strength is obsolete. And when I realize my strength is obsolete...Love. Of all things, yes love finds me.

But it is unlike the experiences I know. He says I don't have to be perfect and I'm not expected to perform and that through him there is hope and that his strength is made perfect in my weakness and that I could hold on and have everything to gain and yet nothing to lose. Imagine my relief as I begin to let go of a life that brings me grief. No longer bound by the chains of a failed pursuit of perfection and life crippling fear, because he is willing to give his life for me, because Jesus is willing to die for me, because Jesus is willing to exchange my life with his. All of my bad for all of his good. All of my junk for his riches, his grace, his love, his mercy, to buy me back from darkness, so that I can be redeemed.

And he is different. And without my knowing it, sweeps me off my feet, fulfilling every promise he quotes like, "I'll never leave you nor forsake you" and "I am living water so if you drink for me you will never be thirsty." And then my life's purpose is fulfilled, living in harmony with my creator, loving him, enjoying him, worshipping him.

Yes, I am only 20 something, but I am not searching. I'm only 20 something, but I'm not looking for myself, searching for my identity. I know exactly who I am. I am loved.

And I am learning to love back fearlessly, especially my mother, may her soul rest in peace. And my father, because you've been transformed just like me.

I am loved. And I am redeemed, never to be bought again. And my life is for his glory. And my life is the fulfillment of a little girl's dream. Rescued by love. Adopted by the king. Born a peasant, but now royalty.

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