Meet Nicole Reyes… A sister. A friend. A teacher. Here is her story of freedom.
What does it mean to live free?
Nicole: Jesus promised us in John 10:10, “life and life to the full.” The Message version of that same verse describes this life as, “more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” I like that! And I think that is the kind of freedom Jesus has for each of us.
Was there a time when you weren’t experiencing this freedom?
Nicole: Absolutely. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, and even though my parents loved me I was exposed to a lot of fighting and abuse. My father was an alcoholic for the first 10 years of my life. As I child I never really understood unconditional love. I felt like I needed to act a certain way and perform a certain way to try to keep my father’s drinking manageable. When I was 12 years old, I became a Christian, and Jesus began to bring healing to my family. We started attending church, and my father quit drinking. It was a huge breakthrough for my family, but there was still a lot of hurt and pain to work through. By the time I was 16, my relationship with my dad was completely broken. I felt rejected by him, and ultimately I felt there was something wrong with me. My relationship with my father seemed to be an indicator that I wasn’t good enough to be loved. And perhaps the hardest part was how lonely I felt. I believed the only person I could really depend on was myself.
How were you able to experience freedom where there had been so much pain?
Nicole: Jesus has really been so good to me! When I was 19 years old, the Holy Spirit started speaking to me about forgiveness. I began the journey of reconciliation with my father, and I am so grateful for the relationship I have with him today. That was a defining moment for me- the moment I chose to forgive and move forward from the wounds of my childhood. But it wasn’t the end of my journey; in fact, it was just the beginning. Over the years, Jesus continues to lead and guide me in His powerful truth and relentless grace, teaching me just how loved I am and what it means to love. I really believe abiding in God’s love and loving others is an endless exploration with surprises around every corner. I continue to discover what it means to know that no matter what I experience or what I do or do not do, I am loved and that I am capable of loving. And this continual discovery is continually changing me into a woman who loves more, laughs more, dreams more, dares more, and lives more.
/// “And this continual discovery is continually changing me into a woman who loves more, laughs more, dreams more, dares more, and lives more.” ///
What role have other women played in your journey of freedom?
Nicole: I’m not sure where to begin! Thank God for the women who held my hand and encouraged me and picked me back up when I stumbled under the strain of recovery. Thank God for the women who wouldn’t leave me even when I tried to push them away. Thank God for friends who see the best in me when I struggling to see it in myself. Thank God for friends who aren’t content with fake answers and shallow conversations. Thank God for friends who know when to hug me, when to cry with me, when to say or do the most idiotic things that turn my self-focus into roaring laughter! We all need friends like that, and without my mom, my sister, my pastor, and my close friends I wouldn’t be experiencing the freedom I am.
What is your prayer for the women attending She Is Free this year?
Nicole: I hope that you hear Heaven speak to you this year at She Is Free. I hope you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your Heavenly Father has always loved you and always will; that one look from Him can calm the raging storm of your soul and heal the deepest wounds of your heart; that one word from Him can ignite hope deep within and breathe bravery into your very lungs; that one conversation with Him can deposit wisdom for your world and inexpressible joy in your current circumstances. I pray that at She Is Free you know the sheer happiness of having Him extravagantly cheer you on, boldly believe in you, lavishly love you, relentlessly provide for you, and wildly protect you.
“10 A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
–John 10:10 The Message