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In this episode, you’ll discover… 

  • The insidious way lying to yourself amplifies your grief instead of eliminating it (7:02) 
  • How hiding something as controversial as an abortion poisons your heart and soul (and how God frees you from the shackles of shame) (12:20) 
  • Why God happily forgives your worst sins (especially if you feel unworthy of His forgiveness) (15:18) 
  • How sharing your deepest, darkest traumas instantly liberates you from guilt, shame, and agony (17:28) 
  • The powerful “Not Your Past” mindset shift which releases your suffering from your most humiliating mistakes (20:51) 

If you’d like to connect more with Amy, feel free to send her a DM on her Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/amyrosecarrillo/ or her Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/amyrosecarrillo/

If you’re ready to rise up and become the best version of yourself, check out the 12-month mindset and accountability experience that will help you rise up here: https://befitandfierce.com/justbreath 

If you have zero energy to focus on yourself and need extra support and accountability from women who know what it’s like to juggle a crazy busy life, then go to https://befitandfierce.com and become unstoppable with us. 

Or, if you want to join a sisterhood dedicated to growing our faith, join our Just Breathe Facebook Group.

Read Full Transcript

Hi there. I'm Jill Allen and this is find your fierce, the show designed for women to discover your fierce, unlock and unstoppable mindset. Build unbreakable courage and completely transform how you show up every single day. Each week I will bring ideas, methods and strategies that will inspire you to step into your greatness and live life on purpose. Let's be fit, fierce and unstoppable.

(00:37): Hey there gang. Welcome back to find your fierce. Stoked for this chat today. My friend, Amber Laris is here with us and I absolutely love her. We crossed paths a few months back, and she has a passion and this huge mantle on her life to help women overcome shame and guilt. And I'm just so excited and honored that she is here. She's a wife and a mom of two boys is the founder of warriors for life, community, group, and part of the roar house ministry team. She's a volunteer of the Miami Valley women's center. I just love that you're with us, Amber. Welcome. How are you? Hi there. Thank you so much. I'm great. I'm really glad to be here. This is going to be so good. I know I wanted to reach out to you, especially when I saw your posts last week, that you shared your story and the impact that you have on so many women's lives.

(01:26): And I just wanted to, I just felt in my heart that I had to kind of reach out and connect with you because this, your story is one that could be controversial and it can be so hard to talk about, but yet you have the courage and the boldness to step out in your faith and how you have been completely transformed. And you have this manual to share with people. I mean, where can we begin? I mean, where can we start with your journey? Yeah. Well, and I love you saying that it can be hard to talk about because those are the places I feel like God is calling me to right now. I think that there are some tough conversations that need to be had. But what I love about it is that no one can take away your story, and this is my testimony and what God did in my life.

(02:08): And I love that. It gives me a chance to help other people see that they're not alone. So if you want, I mean, I can share a little bit of my background, my story, and where it's, where I'm coming from. Yeah, no, I, I definitely, you know, it's funny how God works because how he can turn everything into good. And this is your message. I, I know that this is your calling and this is so good. Yeah. Just start wherever you want to begin. Yeah. Well, you know, I started sharing my story actually publicly within the past, about five or six years. So I, I go and I speak at churches and that has been a really awesome experience because every single time I get somebody who comes up to me and says me too, or they need to chat or they just really need to hear that message.

(02:56): So just to tell you a little bit, you know, when I was young, I grew up in church, absolutely loved stroke. They did all the things, you know, all the Bible studies, all the youth groups. It was a huge part of my life. And at 13 though, my dad died unexpectedly and I really noticed a shift in the trajectory of my life and really the kind of decisions that I started making. And I really just went down about so great path of unhealthy decisions. And at 16 years old, I found out that I was pregnant and this was first relationship. First time ever having sex, like this was a way, you know, and I was that girl again, I had grown up a good girl and I still was, you know, I want to uphold this image. So when I found out that I was pregnant, I was terrified.

(03:43): All I could think about was what other people would think of me. I wanted to fix the problem, which is what I mean, it's so sad to even say that, but I wanted to hide and run and fix. And so unfortunately at that time I had no other, I didn't feel like I had any other option, but to have an abortion. And, you know, obviously that didn't fix anything for me. It just led to a whole lot of more, a whole lot of bad decisions, a lot more years of unhealthy lifestyle. And I was crippled with guilt and shame or a really, really long time. But when I came back to the Lord in 2006, that is when, you know, I was in my late twenties. And I just had felt this emptiness in my life that I was trying to fill this void in all the wrong ways, whether it was food or alcohol or relationships or people, it was like from this young age, I had this people pleasing mentality of I'm okay.

(04:41): When people like me, I'm good. When everything is good, you know that if there was something off and I had this identity issue and this insecurity that was so crippling for me. So when I came back to the Lord, it was like this revelation of, Oh my gosh, all these years of hiding from him, all of these years of pushing away, I would say that throughout those years, after that decision, and again, just living this lifestyle that was not, or God, or was bad, I had felt so much shame that I didn't think I could come to him. So even as much as I still prayed every single night, I mean, I still love that, but I felt like I couldn't have a relationship with him because I wasn't living up to the standards for me. And I pushed him away for all those years.

(05:29): Now, did you hide the abortion? Yes. So that's a good, that's a really good point. Okay. So one of the main, the primary reasons I wanted to have this abortion was because I was so afraid of what people would think of me. And then after I had this abortion, I was terrified what people would think of me. It was a ridiculous on what the enemy does to make you think you're making a decision based on something, and then realizing that it was a hundred times worse after that. So I spent all those years terrified, terrified that people wouldn't know what I did. And now I was even more ashamed of, Oh my gosh. At first I thought I was ashamed because I was, you know, having premarital sex and having, being pregnant at a young age that I was ashamed because I now have this deep secret that I didn't want anybody to know. I mean, I, there were very, very few people throughout the whole course of my life that knew the truth about that. So, yeah, it was something that I had been for a while.

(06:25): At the age of 16, you put on another mask that everything was good. Everything was okay. Like how did you show up in your day after all of this? Yeah.

(06:33): Yeah. It's interesting. You say that too, because everybody deals with trauma and an abortion is a trauma. I mean, it is definitely something that affects your body and your mind in a very significant way, but everybody deals with that differently. And I was that person that really was able to stuff it down and move on with my life. I didn't really spend time grieving about it. I didn't mourn, I wanted more than anything to put it behind me and pretend like it never happened. And I will say I had convinced myself that I did what was right for me. I was still believing the lies that it wasn't actually a baby, that it was just a clump of tissue. And I also always told myself, a lot of people do this. Like it's legal. I can't be that big of a deal. Right. So I was feeding myself the things that made me feel better about what I had done. And I was even reading about that a little bit about how that denial is a wall that we put up to protect ourselves from the things that we want to believe or the things that that could hurt us. What is a wall of protection you put up in order to cope with the reality of your actions or your decisions? So I was living in denial and hiding everything says, I didn't want anybody to know.

(07:45): You were able to justify that where you were you sad. I was actually looking back through a Bible study that I went through when I finally did come to the Lord and I found a place called the Miami Valley women's center, where I actually went there to volunteer. But I, I ended up having to go through an abortion recovery. I will study in order to volunteer. There is an organization that helps people who face pregnancies and they provide free resources. That was an amazing place. It seems like a really great opportunity to volunteer. And I wasn't even thinking about my past when I went there to do that only God, only bad as that he orchestrated for me to be at this specific place where my testimony and my story would come to this collision, you know, of what I wanted to do to serve, and then dealing with what I had done in my past.

(08:35): So to answer your question with that, I didn't feel remorse really, honestly, until I understood until I went through that training and they teach you what an abortion is, they teach you what the affects of an abortion are. And so then I could reflectively look back and say, Oh, Oh wow. Yeah, I was living, making unhealthy decisions. I was trying to fill a void. I was living in denial. I was angry. I was all of these symptoms that come from denial or from a trauma like that. And it was, it gave me the opportunity, honestly, for the first time to grieve and mourn and really feel remorse over what I had done. How many years after over 15 years.

(09:21): So for 15 years you were unknowingly making a choice to just shove it down, ignore it. How was it showing up in your life 15 years later, the choices that you made. So I will say, and it's common. You know, when you start looking back into the different, a lot of addictions come into place after dealing with a trauma like that, looking for intimacy from other people. And I, in a lot of mine, there's a combination of things. You know, I had that, I had that father wound of losing my dad at a young age. And so there was a lot of seeking out love in the wrong places that I needed. You know, my heavenly father was just waiting patiently to show me that he had all the love you needed, that I needed, that I was looking for it in trying to find something to fill me up. And it was usually an alcohol. I drank a whole lot from the time that I was a teenager up through college. And a little bit beyond that it was an unhealthy drinking.

(10:16): It wasn't as some drinks, it was a very unhealthy lifestyle. And again, just trying to get attention from friends or from men in relationships or whatever it was, that was where I was getting my identity. If people liked me. And if I was accepted, fit in all of that. So it put me out in a pretty destructive way in my life. You know, I was so functional. I did great in school and I got a good job and I lived my life, but it was it's that void that you're trying to fill that is this emptiness that you don't even realize that you're doing in the moment. And again, the relationships I have were unhealthy and the lifestyles and the patterns were unhealthy and it was turmoil and it wasn't peaceful. So I was grateful for that opportunity when my friend invited me back to church and I was like, this is what I've been missing. Like I knew that there was more,

(11:07): The answer is, it was right there. You walked in the doors and you just felt at home. Yeah. And I'll never forget. I'll never forget sitting in church. And honestly, I held our pastor was a little bit after I'd been going to church for a while, but I held my hands out. He had us pray this prayer of surrender and it, I meant every word of it that I was done trying to do things my way I was trying to hide from my past. I just wanted him to wash me white as snow and to start fresh and to be clean. And I felt the love of the Lord of my life. I felt that he did not care what I had ever done. You know, all those times, even sitting in church after that, even though I didn't carry a ton of, I wasn't super remorseful over what I'd done, the guilt was still there. Like any, that word would get a mention any time.

(11:55): I mean, and that gets mentioned anytime. I would feel that contend to pain that was like, Oh gosh, like nobody would ever, except me. If they knew what I did, I can't sit here and church and you can't be the person that I'm called to be because I've done that. That's the worst sin. And you think that you're the only one you do think that you're the only one. And that is why I do feel so compelled to share about this. Because the fact of the matter is that one in four women, by the time they're 45 years old has had at least one abortion. And that's including Christians. That's including church that blows my mind. Wow. One in four.

(12:34): And then think about how many people that affects, because then there's the fathers of those, those, you know, the fathers of those babies. And then there's the grandparents I've talked to so many people, so many people that are like, well, it's my, it was my grandson that I didn't get that was aborted. Or, you know what I mean? There are, it's not just the women. It goes so far beyond that. And so that's, there are so many people hurting from this, so many people. And, and that's why it is that thing that people don't want to talk about. It's so yucky. It's so controversial. People feel so much shame over it that they end up keeping it that secret. And it poisons your heart and poisons you and you're, and you're not able to step fully into what God has for you because you feel so stuck in that shame.

(13:22): Wow. You started diving into the education. It was almost like, okay, if you wanted to volunteer here, this is what you have to go through. You had to go back to the, that moment. You had to go back to that time. What was going through your mind on that? Did you even want to go back there?

(13:36): Wow. And that was actually a very critical time in my journey because I'm not kidding you. When I say I had not dealt with it up until then, I was perfectly convinced to hide, live, go on with my life and pretend like it didn't happen. So I don't know if I wanted to go there, but I, I knew that I had to because, you know, thank goodness in God's timing. He had already brought me back to him and my heart was being softened. And I was really in a surrendered place of Lord. I want whatever you have for me. And what he had for me was, Hey, we got to deal with this. We've got to go there. And it was intense because you know what? This is the other crazy thing. When I started that training, I had just gotten married. So we were about, I mean, we were about a year into our marriage and we had decided we wanted to have kids.

(14:24): So we were getting ready to start the process of having children. And I'm learning all this stuff about, about what I did. And I felt like how in the world could I deserve the chance of having another baby? Like how, why would I be worthy after what I did? How could I possibly deserve a child? And I'm trying not to get emotional because it's so crazy how emotional this can be, because I have two children. I have two children that I love so much that I did that with my first child. It heartbreaking, it's heartbreaking and I didn't feel worthy. So first of all, I didn't feel worthy to have another child. And then when you learn all the things you learned about having an abortion, there was a chance I couldn't get pregnant there, a chance that that was my only pregnancy for my life.

(15:11): And so, as we're trying to plan a family, I was like, it was gut wrenching. And I was, I mean, I remember sitting in my room and just bawling for hours. Like, Lord, I don't know how you forgive something like this, but if you will forgive me, please forgive me because I, I, you know, I, it still blows my mind how the Lord is so loving and he will forgive anything. But it is, it is a real moment when you have to understand, like, he will take it all for you. He, he, he died on the cross for every single cent. Not just some things, not just certain things, but all things. So what I felt was the worst thing I could've ever possibly done. He still said, okay, like, it's cleaned, it's white, the way it's done. You're new. And I love you.

(16:02): Yeah. They built the shame is all stripped away, forgiveness. I mean, that's, that's, that's a big one for so many people, not only to give forgiveness and to forgive others, but to also receive that forgiveness. And that's the hard part because if, and forgiving yourself.

(16:25): Yeah. That's what I was going to say, because, you know, it was a lot easier for me to accept God's forgiveness and accept than to forgive myself. And that actually took place later down the road because I realized like, what is this? Like, I think I'm still holding a grudge against myself and that 16 year old. And I would kind of talk mean about her. You know, like I would talk about that little 16 year old girl, like, what was your problem? How could you do that? You know, and just be so upset. And there was a moment where the Lord took me to that and said, it's time for you to forgive yourself. It's time for you to go all the way back there and look at your sweet, scared little self, and forgive you for what you did. And, and I think that's when the real breakthrough happens.

(17:06): Like when, when you find, when you really are forgiven and you believe it. So there's a difference. Like we can know that we're forgiven. We can know that the word says that you're forgiven. We can know that you don't truly believe it until you are walking in a transformed lifestyle. You are living it out by you. Believe what God says by living a transformed life. And so I could tell that something had shifted in me when I no longer felt shame about my story. It wasn't about like, Oh God just wants me to share. So I will. And, Oh my gosh, what have you got to think? When I tell them that that was gone, that was gone. And I, I felt the power of forgiveness and being free in Christ to just be able to speak about where I've been and what I've done, because I've said this before.

(17:59): That's what I did. That's not who I am and God wanted to use my past for his good. And I wasn't about to keep that. Now the enemy was trying to keep me in. This is what he does with shame. And I think this is the part that we grab a hold of. And we were like, okay, wait, we're on to you because the enemy wants to take anything that we're holding in our hearts. The secrets, the things that we think are so terrible that nobody would understand, or we don't want anybody to know about us. He wants us to hold those in and cripple us and keep us in a corner and keep our mouth shut. Like, don't, you dare tell anybody. I'll never accept you again. And what I love is that I feel like literally punching the enemy in the face every time I share my story, because he can't hold that in. That is what he wanted, but God will turn that evil. It was evil because evil, it is an evil, horrible thing, but the God will turn that for something for his good. And I, I'm just that willingness to share, you know, what has God done in how he's redeemed me through this process and to set others free,

(19:02): Whether they had the abortion or not, or of any type of shame, any type of guilt, any type of doubt, any type of bitterness or resentment, or the unforgiveness that we all tend to cling to, because we believe the lies of the enemy people free. I hear, I mean, the whole time I've had goosebumps, like I hear in the love and that you have in your voice and the passion of, I just hear it. I see it.

(19:30): Yeah. It is by his mercy and grace that I am forgiven and set free. And I, I do want that for every single person. I know, you know, once you have that, you're like, man, all those years of walking in, all those years of being shackled by shame, like no, what I was reading some scriptures this morning, and there's a couple that really, really stood out to me, but this one, of course about keeping the secrets and we need to get, we need to get things out. It says in first John, one nine, if we can confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I mean, in the word all is in there all unrighteousness. So, but the first step, and this is where I feel like, you know, we're all on our own journey. So we have to get there when we get there, but we have to come to that point of awareness and confession.

(20:21): We, we have to come to God. He, he was even speaking to me about this this morning. I was, you know, I am called to these women. I'm in men, I'm called to those. Who've been effected by an unplanned pregnancy. I'm called to help those who are hurting from an abortion decision. And I'm called to those who are just shame in general. Like you said, there are so many things that we hold on to, but he reminded me that yes, I can share. And yes, I can speak all day about it, but they will have to be the ones to make the decision. They come to him. At some point we have to release ourselves. At some point we have to decide there's more. And he loves me for all of who I am. And I can let go of all the things that I've done, how they are, not who I am. That is powerful. It is not who you are. The things that we have done is not who we are.

(21:08): And then it becomes, and then it really becomes an identity. She, right? Like who are we? Like the things that we've done, don't define us. And then what defines us both good and bad. Yeah. Right.

(21:22): Clinging onto our identity. Even with like, whether all the successes and the idols and the recognition and all the applause. But we also hang on to our identity of the sin and the shame and the guilt. So yeah. So who are we? Right,

(21:37): Right. Yeah. Yeah. That new creation. I mean, that's one of the most amazing things to know is that he, he, we're a new creation in Christ and above all that, you know, child or the most high God and forgiven and redeemed. And I was looking at the definition of redemption. This is fun. It says it is the action of saving or being saved from sin error or evil, like clear, literally saved. Like he pull. And I say this about myself. He pulled me out of a pit and he rescued me from all that, everything that I was in. And not only that, now I get the joy of getting, going on missions and rescuing other people for him and with them, you know, like I feel like that is one of the biggest callings of once we get this freedom, what do we do with it? Like, I know that he wants me to use my voice. I know that he wants me to speak out about my story. And I know that he wants me to bring other people with me and him to the freedom, beautiful place to be.

(22:39): What are we choosing to live in? It's like, let's just wake up right now. What pit let's face it and face it, knowing that we're not alone, that we, that I think that's huge. I think that's the biggest part. One we're not alone. Nobody is without sin. You know, Jesus was the only perfect human that ever walked on this earth and he is our example. But we all fall short. So yeah, I mean, for me, I'm to the point now where of course I still mess up, but I'm as fast as I can. I want, I want out, I'm like, Lord, I know what freedom feels like. So I'm no longer going to let these things shackle me and keeping in. And I think that sometimes the problem is that we just get comfortable where we are. We get, you know, what is that saying? When you're uncomfortable, staying the same becomes harder than the discomfort of changing I'm trying to like, but yeah, once we get sick and tired of being in the muck and the mire, then we it'll be worth being uncomfortable to get out of it. You know, we're willing to walk through that. Yeah.

(23:49): Oh, that's what it is when exceeds the pain of change. Cause you know, you have to, you have to go through this more. It was painful for me to, it was painful for me to go back and address my past. It was not pleasant. That is not fun, but it is, it is how we get to the other side. There has to be pain and there has to be, I mean, there has to be discomfort and really addressing what really happened and so that we can get to the other side and have that freedom. So, yeah.

(24:21): So I mean, I know you're doing so many things to bring awareness to, you know, what's out there and what's available for people to, you know, and, and the outreach, I mean, so like, can we talk a little bit about that and like one, where can they find you, but what is out there that is available to help women and men when they're faced with maybe an unplanned pregnancy or where do they go? What options?

(24:50): Yeah. So, like you mentioned, I, I started that community group called warriors for life, which that's local, I'm here in the Dayton, Ohio area. And we really are just on a mission to help men and women who are in an unplanned pregnancy situation, or even just getting the word out there that there is help and that you're not alone. All of those things. I also feel a passion and a calling for helping people who have been through an abortion to recover and heal and walk people through that Bible study forgiven and set free. So, you know, really anybody who has a calling or feels passionate about the unborn or helping people with that warriors for life group, you know, we meet once a month and we go out and do mission work and visit college campuses. We do all kinds of things together just to really spread the word because one of the main issues is we've got this Miami Valley women's center and other pregnancy resource centers that are in the area and they provide free resources.

(25:44): So it's not just, I mean, it's free pregnancy testing is free ultrasounds. It's free children's clothes and baby formula and counseling and classes for moms and for dads. I mean, it is, these places are, are amazing resources in our communities that are, that are, we will make some people like to say like the best kept secrets in the area. Well, we don't want them to be a secret because they're amazing. And not only that, but they're loving people through their decisions. They are not forcing anything upon anyone. They're just telling them that we are here for you. And we want you to know that Jesus loved you. You know, I think this all the time, like what would have been like for me, if I would have stepped into the door of one of those centers where they would just have loved on me and told me that I wasn't alone, that this wasn't my only option and I would have actually received the truth.

(26:36): I mean, I would love to think that things would be totally different for me, but I just, my heart is for people to know that that place exists. So when they are faced with a crisis or they do need resources, they know where to go. And so I like to speak out and share about the Miami Valley women's center and the other resources around this area. And they're all over the country. I mean, they're everywhere. So that's amazing. Okay. So if they find you on Facebook or email, you what's your email because you can steer them in the direction if they're not in the Dayton area, correct? Yeah. So my email is my first name and last name is Amber Lara. So a M B E R L E R a s@outlook.com. And you can find me on Facebook under Amber Peachtree. Liris, that's my, with my maiden name in there.

(27:28): And I also have a Facebook group for the community of life, for the warriors for life, community group. So people can join and get connected there. We like to share updates of what's going on, you know, like legislation that might be happening or the next servicing opportunity could be. We just kind of stay connected in that community group. And yeah, those are the ways to connect with me right now. I think that's awesome. I think it is so awesome. And I love, I seriously, the boldness that you have and that you're sharing it with people to, you know, let them know that they have the, our creator on their side and, and just to kind of wake people up. And so I, you know, I thank you and I applaud you for that. And I know you're carrying that mantle very, very well, so I love it.

(28:14): So thanks for being, thanks for being here, guys. If you are being called to rise, I want to invite you to the just free sisterhood, a 12 month mindset and accountability experience rooted in biblical truth for Christian women, like you, who are ready to rise up head to be fit and fierce.com forward slash just breathe. Or you can check it out on the just free Facebook group heads up on the next episode, I feel we should talk about and dive into what is holding you back from what you were being called to move forward with. So I'm looking forward to that. Thanks so much for joining us today. Please subscribe, share this episode, link on your social media, if you felt encouraged or inspired, as we all know, someone that can benefit. And I would love it. If you would give some feedback and review as well, talk with you next time, beat that beat. There's be unstoppable.

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