Personal Testimony : Jamie Parroco
Hello, my name is Jamie Parroco, and I am 28 years old. Let’s start this testimony at the beginning:
I was born and raised in a Baptist Christian home in NJ. Everyone in my family is Christian, and my uncle Paul is even a pastor. Like many of you sitting in front of me now, I spent every Sunday from the time I was a baby, in church. My last name, “Parroco”, even translates to “parish”, so my name literally translates to Jamie House of God. You can’t get more “Christian” than my family, and you couldn’t get more “Christian” than me growing up...until I started college.
When I began NYU as a freshman in 2007, I was heavily influenced by the worldly views around me. Shows and movies that I loved at the time like “Sex and the City” promoted self determination, individualism, and materialism. I also went to one of the most liberal schools, in one of the most liberal cities in the world. I was surrounded by worldly influence on the streets, in the dorms, and even in the classrooms. I was surrounded by a community that did not believe in or love God. I stopped going to church as soon as I began college.
By the age of 20, I began telling people that I “wasn’t religious,” and that “I’m not a Christian anymore.” I believed I could live for myself and decide my own fate, just like all of media and my classmates were preaching I could do. I believed happiness and purpose came from having complete independence. I engaged in sin without feeling bad, which was easy to do as a young person in Manhattan, and I was incredibly selfish. I wanted that fabulous “young woman in Manhattan” life so much, that I overlooked all the things that were once important to me, especially my family. I was straying away , and would continue down this sinful path for the next several years.
After graduating from college in 2011 I got into a relationship with an Atheist man, and moved in with him shortly after. This, of course, broke my family’s heart because living in with a boyfriend went against the bible and what they taught me as a child. But, I didn’t care about what my family thought-Now that I was financially independent, I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I thought that my family was just being “old school,” because living with a boyfriend or girlfriend is completely “normal” and even encouraged in my generation. So, I stood strong in what I thought was right, and as a result, caused the ones who raised and loved me so much pain. I saw my rebelliousness as a sign of strength. Looking back, I now see clearly that my rebelliousness and selfishness was a sign of weakness. Instead of remaining strong in my faith, I gave into temptation and sin. I am ashamed about this now, because my selfish choices caused so much pain to the ones around me. I am ashamed of this, because I consciously ran away from and denied God. At least...I tried to.
In 2016, at the age of 26, I had been living with my Atheist boyfriend for 5 years now, and we were engaged to be married. I thought I had everything I wanted-a good teaching job, a nice apartment with my fiancé, and an upcoming blog-worthy wedding. However despite all of this, I felt like something in my life was missing. I had, after all the years of denying Jesus, yearned for Him again. So, one day in the summer of 2016, I asked to go to church with my younger sister Rachel in Manhattan. When I went to church with her that day...I fell in love with Jesus again. I loved the sermon, the music, the people, and most of all...I loved hearing God’s word. Going back to church felt right. So, I continued to go to service every week after that.
Well...just as I was rekindling my relationship with Jesus, I was diagnosed with the “world’s most painful chronic disease” called Trigeminal Neuralgia in August of 2016. Trigeminal Neuralgia has been compared to a searing, stabbing facial pain, or "a hot rod being stabbed in your eye while your face is being burnt off with chemicals." It’s nicknamed the “Suicide Disease,” because many people with this condition prior to medicine committed suicide. It is incredibly rare, with only 12 out of every 100,000 people diagnosed each year, so when the first neurologist told me I had this, I couldn’t believe it, so I went to 2 more neurologists to be sure. All agreed I had Trigeminal Neuralgia.
This news was incredibly shocking. I was 27 years old, with plans to get married and have kids and now those plans would have to be altered. Thankfully, I had my newfound relationship with God to keep me strong. Even though I had anti seizure medication at my disposal, I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive this without Him. While looking for sermons about pain, I came upon the story of Job, and how he remained faithful even though everything was taken away from him. So, I decided to be like Job, and got my strength from God despite what was happening to me physically. I pushed through, and told myself to continue living life joyfully and faithfully despite this physical debilitation. I began to pray more, and began to listen to the sermons at church more deeply. Well..several months later, God healed me! I got a root canal on my back left molar, and after the procedure was completed, my pain went away! I couldn’t believe it at first, because I had read countless stories of people with Trigeminal Neuralgia who have had several root canals and tooth extractions to find no relief. So, I called my neurologist and asked him if the root canal was connected to my condition, and he told me that the infection in my tooth might have been affecting my nerves. He told me that because I wasn’t feeling pain, i could start tapering off of the strong anti-seizure medication I was on. If I could get off of the medication and still feel no pain, it meant that I was truly healed! What great joy! I began to taper off...and I’ll get to the end of that story in a bit, because I have to tell another first.
As if being diagnosed and then healed from the “Suicide Disease” wasn’t enough for one year, I came across one more big life changing event from God. As I mentioned before, I was living with my Atheist boyfriend of 5 years, and we were going to get married in April 2017, during Easter weekend. You see, when my fiancé and I started dating and got engaged, I wasn’t going to church, therefore his lack of faith wasn’t a problem for me for most of our relationship, but when I started going to church again in 2016, it changed things a bit. Suddenly there was a disconnect that wasn’t there before. So, I prayed to God every night the same prayer, “God, please convert my fiancé so that we and our future children can love and worship you as husband and wife.” God answered my prayer, just in a way I’d never imagined:
3 weeks before our wedding, on the same day I took my last pill of my medication, my fiancé called off our wedding out of nowhere. That’s right-I was healed from Trigeminal Neuralgia the very same day my wedding was cancelled. I was devastated. My physical body may have been healed, but my heart was now broken.
I sought comfort from my family and friends during this time. One person in particular really helped me-my Uncle James in Virginia. My dad told me to talk to him, because when Uncle James was 21, his fiancé at the time cancelled their engagement, and so he could tell me how he got over it. I called him, and he told me that when he was going through his breakup he prayed: “‘Lord, If I ever am not walking your path, you have my permission to pick me up and put me back on it.” Now he’s been happily married to my amazing aunt for over 22 years, and they have 3 beautiful children. So, immediately after hanging up with him, I decided to do the same. I fell to my knees alone in my room and I prayed with tears in my eyes, “Lord, if I’m not walking on your path, I give you permission to pick me back up and put me on it.” After I opened my eyes, I began to weep...I felt the Holy Spirit fill my body and for the first time in weeks, I felt a sense of calmness and peace.
It’s really magical how the timing worked, because as I said before, the wedding was going to be Easter weekend. As that date approached, instead of feeling sad about the wedding that wouldn’t happen, I decided to reflect on the true meaning of Easter, and Jesus’s resurrection. Jesus died on the cross so MY terrible sins would be forgiven, and he came back on Earth, just as he promised. Easter was about how the darkness of the grave was overcome with the brightness of the third day. It really sunk in for me that Easter that my darkness, too, would one day be overcome, and it really sunk in that His love is all I’ll ever need.
That same Easter weekend, the family and friends that bought tickets for the non wedding flew in and I spent that entire weekend surrounded by those I loved. I was touched by how many people were praying for me-I was smiling again, and I felt better. Best of all, all of the family members who flew and drove in from all over the world were able to see my grandmother Fely before she passed away on April 17- literally 2 days after what would have been my wedding, and one day after Easter. I knew in my heart that this was no a coincidence-this was all part of God’s precious plan for us to be together before she passed.
Time went on, and in May, my sister in Christ and coworker Kay introduced me to her friend, David, and we fell in love. David showed me how powerful it is to be in a relationship with someone who also loves our Lord and Savior, because I had never experienced that before. Shortly after we began dating, we decided to look for a church in Queens, and through his friend, we found this incredible place-Grace Church, the church where I met so many amazing brothers and sisters, the church where I am going to serve, and the church where I’m going to get baptized today!
It’s amazing to see how God has worked in my life. He’s forgiven me, healed me, given me love, and most of all, he remained faithful to me even when I wasn’t faithful to Him. I was supposed to get sick. I was supposed to have an Easter wedding cancelled. The family was supposed to be together before my grandmother passed. I was supposed to meet David, and I was supposed to find Grace Church. I know every good and bad thing that has happened to me was for a purpose, and I know more than ever that God is the driving force in my life. 2017 has been life changing for me in many ways, which is why I think getting baptized is the perfect way to end it. Have a Merry Christmas everyone, thank you for listening, and God bless.