Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Healing Secrets

This is a guest post by our dear friend Claudia Vasquez. 

Secrets can be good and bad. For many years, I never shared more than what was needed. One never shared or talked about one’s legal status, how we got to the States, or even, where we were born. Just couldn’t talk about it. It was as if everyone knew it but no one dared to ask or talk about it. It felt as if my true identity was hidden deep deep within my heart and the real me was hidden amongst all the fake appearances that one had to pretend to have in order to survive and blend in with the rest of the people who maybe were also carrying a deeper secret. 

From the moment I saw those clear, big brown eyes, short brown hair and a smile that to this day, I will never forget; I realized how much time I had kept this secret. She was the door to my healing process. I met this young lady through Our Children Project - a ministry where teams made up of different churches in Orange County, CA visit minors in immigration detention. At first I didn’t know how to talk to her or how to talk about all these “secrets”. But she didn’t even hesitate to talk about it. I couldn’t fathom why she was so comfortable talking about her upbringing, how she came to the States and why she was in this home. 

After listening more and more to her story, my heart drew closer to her and to the secret that for so many years I had hidden or at least been asked to hide. It felt like this young lady was telling my own story. She was 12 years old, crossed the border, but the difference was that she was caught and placed in this detention center. For the first time, I felt comfortable sharing my secret with this young lady. She listened and was amazed at how similar our stories were. I sympathized with her and held her tight in my heart. The more we talked about it, the more my heart began to heal. 

During the times that I didn’t go visit this young lady, a Bible study was held with other believers who were also mentors of these girls. Each one shared their experience. I was hesitant to share mine because I was afraid of being rejected and singled out. But I remembered my young friend, she wasn’t ashamed. She knew that the Lord had shown her grace. When it came for my turn to share about my experience at the shelter, I looked at our group, everyone was from different backgrounds; I could either keep myself from sharing or have them hear my story, my secret. 

After several weeks of meeting and talking about this secret, our conversations brought me healing. For many years, I always perceived everyone who wasn’t in my shoes as those who had always rejected me, even those in the Church because of my status. I was treated differently every time someone from church heard of my legal status. This Bible study group, embraced me and showed me God’s love. This is when I realized what is really like to love the stranger. To love someone regardless of where they came from. 

How could I stop myself from sharing God’s unconditional love? This secret was meant to be shared so that others could learn to love and welcome the stranger! Through the Bible study, the interaction with the young ladies at the shelter, brought me healing and restoration. I no longer feel ashamed of being born from a different place, culture and family. On the contrary, now I know that sharing this long time experience, that no longer is a secret, has opened the eyes of people who struggled to love and accept others just because of systems and political views - this was a spiritual transformation, not only for me but for those who were part of my healing process. 

Claudia Vazquez is a former volunteer of Our Children project, a multi-cultural ministry that engages the Church in Orange County to walk alongside children in immigration detention and learn about God’s heart for immigrants through experience and biblical reflection. Claudia currently attends Newsong Church in Irvine, CA.

Ed. Note: this story is cross posted on Undocumented.tv's blog