Women Who Inspire: Erika Najarro

When I thought of kicking off this series, I immediately thought of featuring Vanessa because she's one of the most resilient and kindest girls I know. Vanessa is selfless in every sense of the word and her mild temper is one of the things I admire about her the most. She has experienced loss in ways most of us probably can't imagine, she's a busy girl currently majoring in Communications at Liberty University, and she's one of my good gal pals since the 6th grade. Read on to learn how she balances life, her view on friendships and more. 

You're a PR girl, active in ministry, a student, a sister, an amazing friend, you dance and you're always on the go! How do you find time to give all those responsibilities your best?

I have learned to manage my time for the things and people that are important to me. It can get crazy but at the end of the day I think to myself, “Okay I can accomplish this, I spoke to this person and made them smile, or, all this hard work will soon pay off." That’s what keeps me going, but I also rely on a calendar to handle it all.

Your outlook on turning 30 in 2017:

Yes, I’m turning 30 next year! I feel blessed for all these years and for everything I have been able to accomplish so far. I’m even thankful for the good and bad life experiences that have made me who I am. So I’m very excited for what’s to come – like having a family one day – but right now I’m enjoying life with the people I love, I’m still traveling, working in ministry and cherishing every moment. I’m just trusting God because His plans are better than mine!

What has been your lowest low and how did you come out of it?

The lowest point in my life was about 7 years ago in April 2010 when my mother, who was also my best friend, passed away. Two months later, I went through a break up after dating someone for several years and thinking I was going to marry him. At the time, I was going through my own grieving process and I had so much pressure on me so I experienced low self-esteem, depression and even had suicidal thoughts. I would go to church and was part of the worship and dance team, but when I would get home, things were different.  I remember my outlet was dancing to worship music in my living room, it was the only thing that would calm me down and make me forget about everything I was going through.

There were many things I tried figuring out on my own, while trying to make everyone else happy. I felt like I had to become a mom for my siblings, when in reality I was just their big sister. I could only try to be there for them as much as possible, support them in anything I could and I had to trust God that He was going to take care of my family until I had an encounter with God one night. I clearly heard Him say, “I am your father, don't worry about anything." From that moment on, I began trusting Him in every situation that came, knowing that He would always be there.

I would spend hours of my day talking to Him but overall, I just had to trust Him completely to make it through. Once that happened, healing came into my life, I began to experience freedom and an unexplainable love and joy that only He could give me during my grieving process. Now, I am just so grateful for the process and because my siblings have grown to be such wonderful young beings who love God. I'm super proud of them and so grateful for the mother God shared with me. No matter what, God will always come through!

If you had a week off, what would you do and who would you spend it with?

I would go somewhere I’ve never been, somewhere peaceful and quiet with beautiful scenery, and I would spend it with my siblings, my father and close friends. Or, I would take everyone with me to Guatemala so we can all be together as a family!

What's your take on friendships at this stage in life? 

I’ve lost a lot of friends and I’ve realized some people are only meant to be in your life for a few seasons. I can count those friends that have been there with me during my highs and lows and now that I'm older, I definitely appreciate those friendships and try to keep them close.

I also enjoy making new friends and I think the most important thing about forming friendships is opening yourself to get to know someone because you never know how much of a blessing that person can be and vice versa. Genuine friendship is the best and I’m grateful for all the amazing friends around me who love me for who I am just as I love them for who they are :)

Jessica Martinez