Daughter of God
At four-years-old, Sonya Carrasquillo knew her identity. After a dedication service at church, she slept soundly in the car. When she began to stir, her mom asked, “How do you feel?” in which Sonya answered, “I’m God’s daughter” and fell back asleep. Dumbfounded, her parents giggled at how their little girl could know something so profound.
“When my mom reminded of me this, I knew that with all of the darkness in my life, being a daughter was the primary identity that the enemy has attacked,” Sonya says. “There’s no other identity that I’ve struggled with more.”
When Sonya was seven years old, she came home one day to a house all packed up. They were living in Honolulu, Hawaii, where her father worked.
“Where are we going?” Sonya asked.
“We’re moving out because Daddy’s not going to be living with us anymore,” her mom answered.
And just like that, Sonya rarely saw him. She’d get out of school and watch her classmates getting picked up by their dads. Sure, she understood that maybe things didn’t work out between mom and dad, but she couldn’t figure out why he left her too. What about me? she’d ask herself. I’m your girl.
It was the first time she felt orphaned.
Meanwhile, an ugly custody battle ensued. Because her dad couldn’t find a steady job, he couldn’t pay child support. So her mom kept Sonya away from him. On the other hand, because her mom worked a full-time job, Sonya spent a lot of time alone.
But on one particular afternoon, Sonya found her dad waiting for her in the school parking lot.
“Papito!” she exclaimed, while telling her classmates, “That’s my dad!”
She ran to him excited to spend the day with her dad. Her excitement, however, came to an abrupt halt when she noticed a strange lady next to him. Her name was Odette, her dad explained, and she was Daddy’s new friend. Sonya’s heart sank.
They took Sonya to their new house, where her dad was living with Odette and her children from a previous marriage. Sonya felt like she had just stepped into “The Brady Bunch.” His new family even owned a brand new karaoke machine that her dad had just bought for Odette.
“I thought, ‘How do you have the money to buy her that? I don’t remember the last time you gave me or my mom anything,’” Sonya recalls.
It was then that Sonya felt orphaned for the second time.
“Here I am with my mom, struggling, and I’m thinking, ‘Where did you go?’” Sonya says.
After a couple nights at her dad’s, Sonya began worrying about her mom. When she finally called, her mom was furious. She had no idea where Sonya had been. And while she might have guessed that her dad took her, she had no way of getting Sonya back. Her mom, being a Korean immigrant, spoke very little English, and she was too afraid to go to the police.
By the end of that year, her mom cut off all communication with Sonya’s dad. They moved without telling anyone their address or phone number. Years passed without a word from her father.
“My provider and protector was gone, so I had to look at how my mom was dealing with it,” Sonya says. “She just put on her poker face, stayed tough, and kept going, so that’s what I did too.”
Then, one day in 8th grade, a school counselor called Sonya out of class, notifying her that she had an urgent message from Marissa, a step-cousin, regarding her father.
notifying her that she had an urgent message from Marissa, a step-cousin, regarding her father. Apparently, her dad moved to Virginia with Odette, and he had asked Marissa to call every junior high in Honolulu to locate Sonya. Time was ticking. He had been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and he didn’t know how much time he had left.
When Sonya got home from school, she called Marissa and received the bad news. She immediately thought, I need to go to Virginia. My daddy needs me.
“I didn’t care that he wasn’t in my life,” Sonya says. “I just knew that he needed me, so I needed to get to him right away.”
But when Sonya’s mom came home from work, she didn’t respond with the same urgency. She scolded Sonya for giving Marissa their phone number, and as Sonya cried from frustration, for her dad’s illness, for her mom’s lack of understanding, her mom told her to stop.
“Cry for something you lost,” she told Sonya. “Not for something you’ve never had.”
“Looking back now, I understand my mom,” Sonya says through tears. “She had to be tough for both of us. And what I’ve learned since then is that those days were hard. My mom would come home from work, and she didn’t have money because she had to pay the bills. And she’d save two bucks to buy me a happy meal, but she wasn’t eating anything.”
But 13-year-old Sonya did not relent. She called her grandmother in Korea and told her the situation. In Korean culture, one has to respect their elders, so if she could get her grandmother on her side, her mom would have to let her go. It worked. After speaking to her on the phone, Sonya’s mom understood that she had no right to keep a daughter away from her father.
So that summer of 1991, Sonya went to Virginia to be with her dad. When she stepped off the plane, she expected to see her papito waiting for her. Instead, she saw a man with his Puerto Rican color drained from his face and his large build reduced to almost nothing.
To Sonya, though, nothing could stop that summer from being amazing. For the first time in years, she had her daddy again. And as if that wasn’t enough, he confided in her that he never loved a woman more than he had loved her mom.
“It was the sweetest sound to my ear,” Sonya says. “I took that as, he still loves her! So the next time I called my mom, I said, ‘Dad wants to talk to you’ and quickly passed the phone to my dad.”
For the next half hour, her mom and dad put aside their differences and forgave each other. Sonya remembers hearing her dad say, “You did such a good job with Sonya. You’re a good mother. I couldn’t have done for her what you’ve done for her.”
After that conversation, Sonya thought that, finally, her family could be together. She’d return to Hawaii, her dad would recover, and then he’d move back in with them. But on November 13, 1991, Sonya got a phone call that her dad had passed away.
“It was like that nail in the coffin,” she says. “And it was the third time I was orphaned by my dad.”
Her father’s death, however, wasn’t the last opportunity to be the daughter Sonya so desperately wanted to be. When her mother remarried, 15-year-old Sonya embraced her stepdad immediately, calling him “Dad” right away. She promised herself she’d be a good girl because she didn’t want to mess anything up.
But her stepdad had no intention of fulfilling those shoes. He told Sonya he wasn’t trying to replace her dad, so she should look at him more as her buddy. They got along really well. But just like friends. Even though Sonya didn’t stop calling him Dad, he kept signing holiday and birthday cards as “Mark.”
Sonya eventually got the point. And she asked herself, how come no one wants to be my dad?
Bride of Christ “Having been without a father for so long, it’s hard to identify what’s good. If you haven’t seen what a good man looks like, how are you going to know when you get one?” Sonya says.
Which led her to seven years in a very wrong relationship.
Paul (whose name has been changed for this article) and Sonya met in college, where they were both working at the same part-time job. Although Sonya had a boyfriend of four years, Paul pursued her...and Sonya didn’t stop him.
She broke up with her boyfriend and started dating Paul in December 1998. Her ex-boyfriend didn’t have a lot of money, but he worked hard in hopes to later take Sonya as his wife. Paul, on the other hand, had money and knew how to show 21-year-old Sonya a good time. He took her to restaurants she could never afford, eating food she never heard of.
“He had a hustler mentality,” she says. “If he didn’t have money, he’d do whatever it took to get it for his girl, which I saw as him taking care of me.”
Newness and excitement marked the first two years of their relationship. But in 2000, as the honeymoon phase faded, reality punched Sonya and Paul in the face.
in the face.
She found out she was pregnant. Paul supported her, even encouraged her to have the baby. But Sonya knew she couldn’t. She was a Christian. Her mom was a Christian. Being in college and unmarried, a baby would just bring shame to her family.
So, that April, Sonya had an abortion.
“When I made the decision to not have the baby, I had already felt like I had fallen so far away from God, but this time, I couldn’t get back up,” Sonya says. “Terminating the baby was definitely sealing the deal.”
Two years later, Sonya graduated from the University of Hawaii and moved to California for a new job, leaving Paul in Hawaii. But after three years of long distance, he moved to California, where Sonya had built a successful life for herself working in real estate. She bought a house, had a steady job, and made good money. In Sonya’s mind, they needed to settle down. After all, they were seven years deep, with an unborn child, and a long history.
Which is why, in 2005, when Sonya got pregnant for the second time, she wanted to keep the child. She knew she’d have to go through the fire with her family, but as long as Paul was by her side, she was willing.
“And, honestly, I didn’t want another baby’s blood on my hands,” she says. “I’ve already fallen so far away from God, but if I do it a second time, I feel like it’s a curse.”
This time, however, Paul wasn’t so sure. He wondered why she couldn’t wait just a little longer to settle down.
“When I saw his face and realized he wasn’t in it, I just remember suddenly feeling so alone,” Sonya says. “I remember thinking, ‘I’m pregnant with your child, and I really want us to be a family, and you’re not down?
with your child, and I really want us to be a family, and you’re not down? Even though I’ve been doing all this for you?’”
Afraid of being abandoned, Sonya did what she thought could save their relationship: she had another abortion.
“I just remember the sadness…there was an inexplicable sadness that day,” she recalls. “I just thought that if I can do something like that, I don’t deserve to live.”
As if that pain wasn’t enough, Sonya soon discovered the real source of Paul’s hesitancy.
He was having an affair with a woman in Hawaii. They kept in contact the entire time he lived in California. But even though Sonya had sworn all her life to never take back a cheating man, she forgave him because she feared losing him.
“It was no way to live,” she says. “As much as it hurt me, I just wanted to close my eyes and pretend it wasn’t happening. In a way, I blamed myself. I left him first when I left Hawaii, so I thought I kind of deserved it.”
But after they vacationed home to Hawaii as a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, Sonya hit rock bottom. She prayed to God. I know You probably won’t listen to me after all that I’ve done, but I don’t like this situation. I love him too much. Please, God, either make us a family or take him out of my life…because I can’t.
A week later, God answered her prayer. Sonya discovered a series of voicemail messages between Paul and the other woman with words of “I love you” and “sweetie” intertwined.
That was all she needed to end the relationship. But a painful process of detoxification followed. Her sadness and heartache physically manifested with vomiting, sleepless nights, and endless crying.
“I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t even drive to work because I’d be crying so much, I couldn’t see the lines on the freeway,” Sonya says. “That was rough. It was like mourning the death of somebody who was there one day and gone the next.”
One night, as she restlessly tossed and turned, she cried out to God once more. She wanted Paul home. She loved him too much. Why couldn’t he see that she was the best woman for him? Sonya had sacrificed everything for him, giving her life to him, but he still turned his back on her.
And that’s when Jesus answered, “Now you understand how I feel.”
“No Sunday service or Bible class could teach me what I learned then,” Sonya says. “If my heart was breaking so much for Paul, God’s heart has been breaking for me for a much longer time, and I was blown away. He was showing me what love is, and He was asking me, ‘Why can’t you see that I’m the best thing for you?’”
But even so, the thought of living a life without Paul proved too much. She knew that if she stayed in the same country as him, she’d go back. So, in 2008, she ran away to South Korea, where she could take care of her grandmother and remain anonymous.
When she landed in Seoul, Sonya felt lost and broken. She took out her Bible, hoping to hear something from God. Sonya opened to Isaiah chapter 60. As she read the entire chapter, line by line, she sat in awe. …the sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory…
“So here God gives me this promise, right? And I know that there’s something more, but I don’t believe it,” Sonya says. “I don’t believe in myself, let alone God’s favor for me. I don’t know what it all means, just that God’s going to eventually restore all that was lost. But that was just too much work. I thought, ‘Oh, God, there’s a lot of restoring You have to do for me. I’m not a virgin. I’ve killed two of my children. There’s no ounce of purity left in me.’ And because of that, I just went deeper into the sin.”
Feeling as if her best days were behind her, Sonya spent the next two years taking what she could get. She had no man to protect or provide for her nor did she feel like she’d ever find him. Sonya also realized that she could no longer carry the secret of her abortions to her grave. If she were ever to get pregnant again, she’d have to tell the doctor how many pregnancies she’s had. Once that number “2” was written down, surely no man would want her then.
“I felt like a widow,” Sonya says. “I felt like I was at the bottom of the ladder of choice…the least desired and the most burdened. So then I thought, ‘Fine, if I can’t have a man take me as his wife, I’m going to date whoever I want, and I don’t care about being faithful.”
Which led to many men and five out of seven nights at the club. At one point, she dated four men at once, knowing it was reckless, but not really caring either. In fact, looking back, she sees it as a form of suicide. A giving up, of sorts. Having a close friend battle HIV, Sonya knew the repercussions of her actions, but she did it anyway.
But then, on one particular night towards the end of 2009, as she lay in her boyfriend’s bed, she heard Jesus speak. But this time, she heard a rebuke. When are you going to stop giving your pearls to pigs? If you want Me to give you a king, you need to start acting like a queen.
And suddenly, an anger rose up in her. An anger in herself, an anger in these men, an anger in her lifestyle.
A couple months later, during Christmas, Sonya’s mother prayed for Sonya. “You’re a daughter of nations,” her mom said, “and 2010 is going to be a year of completion for you.”
All Sonya could do was weep. How could her mom, or God for that matter, have faith in a woman who was practically a whore?
“That was my Gideon moment,” Sonya says. “Gideon was being a coward, but God said, ‘No. You’re a warrior. You’re the courageous one.’ So, for me, despite sluttin’ it up, God was calling me a daughter of nations.”
After that, Sonya knew she had had enough. She immediately ended each relationship, determined to make 2010 a new beginning. She partied here and there, but it was never the same as before. Then, in April, her friend Ryan asked if she wanted to go with him to check out New Philadelphia Church on Easter Sunday. She agreed, but when that Sunday morning rolled around, she had a hangover. Ryan assured her that she had plenty of time to get ready because service didn’t start until 4 p.m.
When they arrived, she stood in unbelief. “It’s in there?” she asked. Services were held at King Bar, which stood right above the club that Sonya had partied at that morning. “What if people see me?” Sonya asked Ryan. If they saw you, he explained, they shouldn’t judge because that means they were there, too. He had a point.
After Sonya reluctantly made her way upstairs, she sat in the service and knew immediately that this was home. For the next few months, she slowly began shedding off the layers of past hurt, making herself vulnerable by revealing her scars. Regardless, the community kept loving her, and the leaders kept ministering to her.
leaders kept ministering to her. She was used to abandonment, but they didn’t do that. Over time, she learned what it looked like to receive love from God and from the people that God placed in her life. This must be what it feels like to be His daughter.
“I think just through her relationships, she’s been able to see who she is and overcome that orphan spirit,” Diana, her first small group leader, remembers.
The deeper pain, however, of feeling like a widow was still too fresh to share. An open wound that she didn’t want anyone to get near just yet.
Then, in June 2010, at a special prayer service, a man sitting next to Sonya asked if he could pray for her. She had really wanted prayer from the guest speaker but as the service wrapped up, she realized she wouldn’t get a chance. So when the man next to her asked, she thought, why not?
He told her that as he was praying, he saw her surrounded by children. But in particular, she was holding two babies in her arms.
She had never shared the secret of her two abortions. There was no way he could know. But God knew.
The next day, during Sunday service at King Bar, one of the pastors, Marcus Corpening, went to Sonya and told her that God was giving him one word for her, and it was “mother.”
He said it again and again. “Sonya, you are a mother. Mother. Mother…”
She had never shared that one of her greatest fears was that she’d become barren, never becoming a mother again, as a punishment for her abortions. There was no way Marcus could know. But God knew.
And that’s when it hit her. God wasn’t just calling her His daughter. That was just the beginning. Now, He was calling her His “bride.” And while this was difficult for her to accept, she knew that God wouldn’t stop reminding her until she finally believed it.
was difficult for her to accept, she knew that God wouldn’t stop reminding her until she finally believed it.
“There’s a particular passage in the Bible that the Lord highlighted to me. It’s from Hosea chapter 2, verses 14 and 15,” she says. …Therefore, I am now going to allure her. I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came out of Egypt… The Valley of Achor represented a place of trouble for the Israelites. For Sonya, God was taking that very place of hardship—being orphaned and feeling widowed—and turning it into her very door of hope. Today, she holds onto this truth:
“I stand before you a pure bride, without shame…and that is my love story.”
Copyright © 2019 re.write magazine. All Rights Reserved.
*The name of Sonya's ex-boyfriend has been changed for this article.
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