Throughout her life, LeAnna Vargas was repeatedly treated as though she had no value, and eventually, she began to believe she didn’t. Feeling increasingly unlovable, her heart began to harden toward love.
Child abuse, sexual assault, and her own drug addiction made LeAnna skeptical of ever finding acceptance.
“My whole life, I’ve just been running amok, searching for people to love me for myself, and I never knew that I could ever find that in anybody. I didn’t have love.”
Hurt and angry from what seemed a fruitless search, LeAnna put a guard up to protect herself. “I was mean, heartless, cold, deceitful.”
She shut out any spark of happiness. “If I saw somebody happy, I would make them miserable. I’d see a glimpse of happiness and then I would squash it. I just couldn’t have that feeling of happiness because it felt like I didn’t deserve it.”
Bad relationship choices perpetuated the cycle, making her feel more undeserving. And her heart grew harder.
“I was angry at God. I was angry at my family. I was angry at myself. I hated everybody. I wanted everyone to feel just a quarter of the way that I felt my whole life.”
LeAnna’s anger ruled over her, and eventually, she went from being a victim of abuse to perpetrator. She was charged with partner assault against her boyfriend and was sent to jail.
Surprisingly, in jail, she caught her first glimpse of the love she’d been seeking for so long.
“When I was in jail, [other women] would talk about how the Lord loves unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life, He’s gonna love you no matter what.”
But fear kept LeAnna from God and from the love she craved.
“There’s always a ‘but’ when you love someone. ‘I love you, but you’ve done all this stuff.’ I was always afraid of, ‘I love you, but you’re just like you’re dad, or your brothers, or [whatever].”
Still, she says, “It put a spark in my head that, I’ve done a lot of criminal activity, and if [God] can love me and forgive me for that, then that’s what I need.”
Her desire to know God overcame her fears and she came to the UGM Center for Women and Children in search of Him.
“I’ve been to prison. I’ve done inpatient treatments, outpatient treatments. I have done therapy. I have done everything. The only thing that was missing was God. That’s the only thing I came here for. This program wasn’t about treatment; it’s about having a relationship with God. I knew this was the only place that was gonna help me.”
LeAnna accepted Christ after entering LIFE Recovery and was met with love and acceptance like she’d never known.
“It’s being able to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘You know what, God loves me; I’ve got to love me. He doesn’t make mistakes, I’m not a mistake. I’m here for a reason.’ It surprises me that there’s no judgment on His part.”
Far from the tough, emotionless woman LeAnna used to be, God’s love has transformed her hard heart.
“I actually have emotion now. I’m friendly and lovable, compassionate, patient. I’m a completely different person. There are still pieces of me that are hurt and broken, but every day I’m excited and happy. The joy’s coming from Him.”
Her newfound relationship with the Lord has significantly impacted her recovery, as well.
“It has made my recovery so easy – so easy. I never wanted to be sober. And this time, when I left all my stuff at the door, He just scooped me up and He’s been with me 100%.
“First time in my life, I can say, ‘I’m done.’”
While God’s love changed LeAnna’s life, she’s experiencing that love through people. At UGM, men, women, and children often express their gratitude and amazement that those who don’t know them personally care about and support them.
Today, because of you, LeAnna’s experiencing the grace and acceptance she’s longed for her entire life.
“It’s been chaos and mayhem my whole life and then coming into this program and them showing me love and grace and compassion. I can just be who I am, and it’s love. It’s true love.”
“I can finally be accepted for me and people love me for me. They’ve seen me at my worst and they’ve seen me at my best, and they don’t judge me. They accept me for who I am, and it’s a completely different life.”