Be You and Thrive recently had the pleasure of speaking with Joy Thomas of Findlay, Ohio. This young lady has such an inspirational story—we know she will touch your heart. Married, and working two full-time jobs, she shares some incredible insight on how she endured great difficulty and loss in her teenage years.
Be You & Thrive: Joy, you’ve endured some difficult setbacks as a teenager growing up in California and have went through, as you describe, ‘a tremendous transformation.’ Can you share about this difficulty in your teenage years that you endured?
Joy Thomas: In my teens, I was considered the black sheep of the family. My mother was involved with an extreme and unorthodox, organized group of people, which she believed in whole-heartedly. At ages 16-19 I wanted to be a normal teenager, and was not willing to conform to this group’s way of thinking. I wanted to have my driver’s license, go on dates, go shopping with friends and be able to drive myself to work. Instead I had to take on adult responsibilities such as helping pay for my family’s rent, buy groceries, and so much more.
I knew the surroundings that I was being brought up in were not healthy for my future. I left home when I was 19, where I hit what I considered to be, rock bottom. My family was not able to contact me, as the group they were involved in allowed no communication with family members that weren’t a part of their belief system. I had no driver’s license and limited money. I worked two jobs, working weekends and whenever I could. Eventually I was able to obtain my license and get a car. I met my husband and his family, who heavily supported me by giving me a place to stay and expecting nothing in return. In the year of 2012 is when all the pieces began to come together; I got married, we bought a house, I began to coach skating again and I also started my current job.
BY&T: These are extreme situations for a teenager to endure. Yet your healthy decisions to take care of yourself are remarkable. When the pieces began coming together for you, what else took place during this transformation?
JT: I learned to forgive myself. To let myself grow into the woman God wanted me to be. I held a lot of hurt and anger towards my parents, family, friends, and mostly against myself. Looking back on what I endured made me realize that through the fire, I was never alone. God transformed me from a hurt, scared little girl into a strong, talented, successful woman.
BY&T: You mentioned that you ‘learned to forgive.’ How did you gain this mentality and ability to forgive? And in your opinion, what’s wrong with holding a grudge?
JT: I believe this ability of forgiveness came from asking for forgiveness from friends and family that I had hurt through this process. Forgiving others helped me to forgive myself. We are human and make mistakes. No one is perfect and yet I am a perfectionist. Forgiving yourself is the best thing one can do for the mind, body, and soul. The saying ‘don’t be so hard on yourself,’ is a statement that everyone should truly live by. Living by these words has helped me to keep the positive in my life vs. dwelling on the negative parts.
Holding a grudge causes disconnect between people. We are all here to live. We are all made equally different. Why hold a grudge against someone who wants the same thing out of life that I do—to be happy, succeed, to find love, etc. I feel if everyone saw that we are all human, at the end of the day there would be less grudges and more happiness.
BY&T: It’s so beautiful that you have forgiven, and thus moved on. What do you think gave you the strength to forge through this difficulty at such a young age?
JT: Faith. Faith, in the fact that I had more of a story to write. My future could be whatever I wanted it to be after “escaping” this unorthodox organization. Faith and freedom were my anchors through the storms.
BY&T: Although this setback you have shared was very difficult, do you think it has caused you to grow into the woman you are today?
JT: Every day I grow. The setback did push me to grow faster than most, but I look back now and am thankful to be where I am in my life. I’m only 27 and I know I have a lot of growing to do, but I will probably never be done growing until the day I die. I want to learn something every day. Live my life to the fullest!
BY&T: I am so inspired by your story, Joy and so grateful to have you share with us. Your determination and strong faith shines through your words. You are living authentically and your life story will touch many. Thrive on beautiful lady!
Our experiences in life can impact us greatly. Joy’s story, displays the act of hope and determination to change her future. Through struggle and difficult times, she has become the woman she intended. What impacted you most about Joy’s story?
Please leave a comment below and share your valuable insight.
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