“God assigned as duty to every Man, the dignity of every Woman”- Blessed JPII
I think about all that the Lord has done in my life…. and I sit here in awe as I can honestly say that He has transformed me into a new creation.
You know, as a young girl I always loved movies about princesses. I remember dreaming of being a princess and having my prince charming fight the dragon to come and save me from my tower. It’s sad that the world has tried to steal that dream from so many young girls…for in reality, we are daughters of a King which makes us Princesses.
As far as my background goes, I was born in the Dominican Republic in 1986. My father was born in Puerto Rico in 1944 and later moved to NY in 1953 (where he would grow up). In the 80’s he decided to study medicine in D.R., (or the Dominican Republic) not knowing that he would get back to the USA with a few things he probably never imagined: a medical degree, a Dominican wife and two children!
My mother, brother and I arrived in a chilly Manhattan on February 27, 1988 when I was only about a year and half old. There I was raised in the heart of NYC – a section of Manhattan called the Lower East Side or by us New Yorkers, “Da Lowa”.
Although I spent my childhood living in between a few different places, my parent’s apartment (where we all still live today) is located right between the government projects and a bunch of cooperative apartments filled primarily with devout Orthodox Jews.
Looking back, I feel like I was always stuck between two VERY different worlds. My mother never learned to speak fluent English, and my father was the only Hispanic working in what was at the time, a very “white” world. FYI – English is my 2nd language! As a child, I passed the days with my grandmother in her cockroach infested, government-funded apartment where people sometimes even peed in their own elevators. In the evenings, we would go home to our nice apartment building a few blocks away… and to make it even more complicated, I spent my summers in the Dominican Republic with family! I guess you could say that from my childhood up until high school, I was truly raised all over the place!
I think about all of those years until high school and they really were the good old days! I can still remember the smell of barbeque in the street, the jokes we made about my grandmother’s plastic-covered couches…and feel the burn-scars on our legs from the park with the metal slides! I remember the joy and laughter of the children who grew up in this place…a place so diverse, full of colors and cultures and languages….children that learned how to make best of their situation. I even still recall as a child, realizing just how blessed we were that my father was given the opportunity to own an apartment in a very nice part of that same neighborhood. Now that I think of it, in many ways I was blessed for growing up with the many surrounding of those two worlds, for it was during my childhood that God planted within me a deep love for the poor…..which He would use as part of His Divine Plan…..through missionary work and ultimately in bringing my future husband Andrew and I together.
I can say that up until high school, I was a pretty happy and satisfied young girl. But at 16, my whole life changed drastically and the world began to teach me about so-called “happiness”. I found myself in an abusive relationship with an older man, and when I got out of that situation, my whole world seemed to come crumbling down. It has taken years for me to heal from that relationship. By the time I was 19 years old, I thought I was a “tough” girl with all the right answers but within, I didn’t want to live any longer. Without realizing it, I was mistakenly seeking our Heavenly Father through the “love” of harmful men who to my surprise at the time, never really fulfilled me. Oh, how I desired that TRUE living water – Our Lord Jesus!
On October 31st 2005, after a very sobering experience (which you can see on the interview below) I made a decision that would forever change my life. It was that day that I remember firmly deciding, with the helpful prayers of our friends in Heaven, that I would no longer give myself in any way to any man until I married the one that HE had set apart for me. From within the depths of my soul, I knew that I desired to be truly loved and I knew that I had to abstain and to remain chaste until marriage.
It’s been almost 6 years since then and the Lord has taken me on such a beautiful journey and has made my dreams real again. He continues to slowly and gently bring healing in to my life, redeeming my past and even using it now for His Glory! Through choosing chastity, the Lord has broken the chains of slavery from my past, freeing me for all of the adventures that this life has to offer! I’ve even met the man that my heart has longed for, and this princess is preparing for Holy Matrimony this October!
Here is a link to a video of an interview I did on “Too Blessed to be Stressed” on New Evangelization TV, based out of Brooklyn NY. Let me first say that it is very humbling to post this video up for everyone to see.…..but I realize that our lives and testimonies are all for His Glory, so the heck with my feelings! This was recorded 3 weeks before Andrew and I began our courtship…and looking back, God’s timing couldn’t have been any better!
If you are curious to read more about our story, check out our blog: Café con Leche!
Please pray for us as we prepare to become One Flesh! God bless you!
– Cristina Rivera