Today, Ismelda speaks to us about her life-saving encounter with God, and how God delights in us. This is a young woman who knows exactly what matters and her words and insight are precious. Thank you for being so vulnerable, Ismelda. I know I was blessed.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: I have always, from the moment I read it, been inspired by Acts 20:24. There is nothing more that I want than to live my life for Jesus and to share the gospel. This verse always humbles me and reminds me that He pursued me and chose me.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: To be one with the Holy Spirit. What I mean is that I want to live each moment sensitive to the Spirit and not be distracted. This past year, my senior in undergrad, I was occupied doing a lot if things such as taking classes, extracurricular activities, etc. I found myself not having time for myself or for God. Somehow, I allowed the business of life get in the way of my first love, God. Now that I am out of school, it has been sooooo wonderful and fulfilling to be able to devote my time reading scripture, worshipping, praying, etc. Something that I missed this year. Don’t get me wrong, I did pray and read scripture, but it is not the same when you are rush and your mind is anxious with a lot.
Profession: I just graduated, and I am praying about the next move.
A one sentence bio of yourself: Aside from her love for coffee, being around family and friends, TedTalks and documentaries, Ismelda desires to leave a positive impact on the lives of those she encounters and to be more like Christ every second she lives.
When did you first encounter God? I don’t remember the exact date, but it was when I was 14, a few months before I turned 15. I was sitting on my restroom floor ready to take my life away. I had contemplated suicide many times and even attempted, but for some reason, I could never get to the point where I would physically hurt myself, something always stopped me. Yet, I struggled with the thought of it. When I was 10, my mother walked out of my life, she left my family and me for a man she met. Though we didn’t have a relationship prior to the incident, it affected me.
My dad worked a minimum wage job and we could barely afford paying the bills. I never learned how to cope with my emotions or talk about them, I just held them in – which is what led me to contemplate suicide. As I sat there on my restroom floor, I told myself this was going to be it. The day I would take my life and no longer suffer. I grew up in the church and I knew all the Bible stories, but I never really talked to God. I felt like I didn’t have no other option, but I said, “if you are real, show me that you.” That day, Jesus broke through the darkness and shined a light of hope into my life. There wasn’t a loud voice or loud bang, there wasn’t anything “big,” rather peace that I have not experienced before. Since that day, I knew that God was real and wanted a relationship with me.
Every time depression or those suicidal thoughts came back up, or when I was angry, I turned to the Bible, my only Bible that I had at the time, a King James Bible.
In the Mexican culture, when you turn 15, you have a quinceañera, a special moment where you go “into womanhood.” Since we were broke, I knew I wasn’t going to have one. But, for my 15th birthday, I wanted to devote my life to God. I told my pastor I wanted to get baptized. On May 11, 2011, I got baptized, along with my older brother and my dad. I was a special moment because we had declared as a family to serve God. That day as I was ready to take my life away, Christ literally saved me, spiritually and physically. I often think about that day because I would not be where I am today if Christ did not pursue me.
“I felt like I didn’t have no other option, but I said, ‘if you are real, show me that you.’ That day, Jesus broke through the darkness and shined a light of hope into my life.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? As I mentioned above, this year was a busy one, and I did not spend as much with God as I wanted to. It was rough to be honest, but I’d have to say my friends and our conversations. I value the conversations that I have with my friends, especially when they are conversations about God. These conversations kept me going.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I am currently reading Reading the Bible Supernaturally by John Piper and Practicing the Power – Welcoming the gifts of the Holy Spirit into your life by Sam Storms. I just started, but I am excited to finish reading them and see how it stretched me.
Top three essentials: Coffee, my phone, and music.
How did God speak to you recently? The Holy Spirit has been dealing with me, and it has been convicting. He told me that I have always seen God as my Lord and Savior and provider, which is great, but I have not really experienced Him as my Father. Currently, as I am praying about my next steps, I have to truly trust and believe that because He is my Father, He delights in me. With a job or without a job, He delights in me. Society says that after college you need to have a job and your life planned out, but even if I don’t have it all together, He delights in me because I am His, not because I overcame statistics or am “successful” according to society.
“I have to truly trust and believe that because He is my Father, He delights in me.”
Hobby: Reading books, cooking, writing, watching documentaries and TedTalks, spending time with friends, shopping, driving down dirt roads (when I’m back home), and serving. I love to serve people!!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: For sure, 1. Reading the Bible and prayer. 2. Community, those people around you who love and support you. 3. Remember where you come from. I don’t mean think about the past, but where you were when Christ changed you. This is what keeps me humbled and reminds me that I did not get here on my own. It also reminds me of God’s faithfulness.
Favorite person in scripture? Paul for sure. He is great.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That God is love and just.
Favorite season? FALL!!!!
Favorite holiday? Christmas, because I get to give gifts and spending time with family. Oh, and the special Mexican dishes. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!
A dream you have? To teach women and young girls the word of God. I also desire to work with at-risk youth, seeing God transform their lives.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: We don’t have one.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I haven’t thought about questions I’d like to ask. But maybe, why me?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: The inequity within the education system. This is something I am passionate about. I believe that God does cares about social justice issues. As a Mexican woman, I have been discriminated against because of my skin tone and accent. I have pondered on how deep into social justice should Christians get into, but as I am reading into Exodus, God does care about social justice. It is not right that certain groups are put down so that others are lifted. Education is something that many could benefit from, but there are lack of resources and barriers placed upon certain groups to keep them from succeeding and getting a quality education – kind of why education began in the first place. And as we look at the history of education, there is a cycle where certain group want to remain on top and will do everything in their power to make sure they remain.
Education plays a huge part in our society. Overall, I am passionate about young people who are looked down upon because of their circumstances or choices. I can relate to most of them because I once was a “troubled kid.” I did things that could have taken me a different road. I have stolen from the store, gotten into a fight, been in drama, etc. But, it was one person who saw something in me, past all of that mess that changed me.
What do you usually do before 9 a.m.? As of right now, I am still sleeping.
What is on your nightstand? A lamp, a small book case with an old diary (from my B.C. and into Christ days), a magazine from Voice of the Martyrs, a glass bottle filled with encouraging messages from my friends that I got on my 21st birthday, and a small piece of wood given to me by my dear friend Hannah who painted a verse on it: “Be still and know that I am God” Psalms 46:10.
Define Christianity in a sentence: For God so loved the world, he gave his only son that whoever believes, shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
For more Ismelda:
Until next time, keep witnessing!