Real Life Loading...™

Weed, TikTok, and Finding Jesus: Feli Velez

with Feli Velez | November 25, 2022
Play Pause

Feli Velez hated her sober mind. But on Real Life Loading..., she tells Shelby Abbott how quarantine, TikTok, and running out of her marijuana stash sent her scrounging for meaning...and in her search, she found Jesus.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Shelby Abbott

    Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States. Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life), Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Feli Velez hated her sober mind. But quarantine, TikTok, and…well, running out of her marijuana stash sent her scrounging for meaning…and in her search, she found Jesus.

MP3 Download Transcript

Weed, TikTok, and Finding Jesus: Feli Velez

With Feli Velez
November 25, 2022
| Download Transcript PDF

Feli: It started to click: like I started to understand, for the first time, that I was loved by God and that He was a gracious God. And like I said, I grew up in the church, and I heard these terms before—but it was just like in a passing-type statement, like, “You're loved by Jesus,”—and I'm just like: “This guy loves everybody,”—like—"What about it?” But it was personal now; like it really meant something to me.

Shelby: Somewhat anxious—always authentic—this is Real Life Loading… I’m your host, Shelby Abbott. Our desire with this podcast is to help guide you toward the life-changing power of Jesus for relationships in a constantly-shifting culture. We're called Real Life Loading, dot, dot, dot. And those three dots at the end of our title are super significant. The dots describe being in process—we haven't arrived—we're very much in a state of loading. It's my job to be a trusted friend to come alongside you and help you walk closely with God in the humor and hardship of life. I love interacting with young people because I know the potential you have to change the world for the glory of Jesus, and that’s what this podcast is all about.

Today, my guest is Felicita Velez or Feli. She's a college student in New York state, and we met when she came to the Ocean City Maryland Summer Mission this past year. The mission is like a 10-week spiritual bootcamp. My wife and I have led this particular one in OCMD over the last decade.

It was easy to tell, from the beginning, that Feli loves Jesus. In this interview with her, she's going to dive into her amazing personal story of how she came to Christ. It involves COVID, quarantining in a hotel, smoking weed, and TikTok. I just know you're going to love Feli.


Shelby: So Feli, knowing that you are a senior—and I remember being a senior, and being in that kind of electric energy that you have, like, “Oh, my gosh; I'm almost done, and it's so exciting; but I want to soak it up while I'm here,”—how are you feeling right now?

Feli: Like a lot of the time, I'm just like, “I'm so ready to get out of here,”—[Laughter]—like—

Shelby: Oh, really? [Laughter]

Feli: —that's the thing that I'm saying a lot of the time, but I think it's only because I'm looking at that from the academic perspective. But like, in terms [of]: I'm a people person, and I love people, and I love like the close proximity—all the different opportunities that I have to meet new people, like going to class or going to the events that the university hosts—I think I'm going to miss that, because it's a lot harder to find community when you're not kind of like forced into it.

Shelby: Yes; when you're surrounded by people, who are all doing the same thing that you're doing, at the same time; yes, yes.

I understand the academic thing; I was definitely ready to be done with class.

Feli: Oh, yes; definitely.

Shelby: By the time you're a senior, you’re kind of like: “Can't I just like hang out with people and not go to class anymore? I've earned it.” [Laughter]

Feli: Yes, exactly; pretty much.

Shelby: Every senior's got that kind of pompous attitude: “I don't need to be here anymore; class is beneath me.”

Tell me about like a unique or quirky habit of yours. Do you have a unique or quirky habit? 

Feli: I'm a talker. [Laughter] I talk a lot.

Shelby: I knew that; you do talk. [Laughter]

Feli: But to not talk other people's ears off, I'll just film my own little vlogs; and sometimes, I'll post them like to some of my Snapchat things; so other people can see it.

Shelby: Okay; okay.

Feli: But other times, it's really just for me; it really is. [Laughter]

Shelby: You're just talking to your phone.

Feli: —just to talk it out/just to talk it out; yes.

Shelby: That is great—stuff that you say/that you record—that you never post.

Feli: —never. [Laughter]

Shelby: That's interesting, because it's kind of like a journal almost, a video journal you keep, just for you.

Feli: Yes.

Shelby: Is your phone like just full of these little conversations with you and the glass on your phone?

Feli: Pretty much. [Laughter]

Shelby: Is it deep stuff; or is it silly stuff; or like, “All the above”?

Feli: Sometimes, it’s deep stuff. Sometimes, I'm like actually thinking through things. Yesterday, literally, I was on TikTok; and this girl was singing, and she hit a whistle note. I was like, “Can I do that?” I got on my Snapchat, and I was recording myself. I was like, “Guys,”—I just like/I literally refer to myself as “guys”— like I know I'm not posting this to anybody. [Laughter]

I know; I'm not sharing it with anybody; but I'll be like, “Guys, I just like learned this thing; and I'm going to try it”; I'll do it. Like sometimes, I'll just—there's like an intrusive thought; and I'm like, “It's got to win,”—I can't let it win around everybody; I just got to/I'll just say it to myself real quick. [Laughter]

Shelby: Did you hit the note, by the way?

Feli: Yes!

Shelby: Oh, my gosh; that makes me so happy—I don't know why that makes me happy—but that you're talking to “Hey, guys,”—it's like: you ever see kids, who are just impersonating their parents or YouTube videos; and they're talking to a phone?

Feli: Yes! “Welcome to my vlog.”

Shelby: It’s like [mimicking a child’s voice]: “Hey, guys, we're going to do a makeup tutorial today”; and it's like: “You're four years old.”

Feli: —me.

Shelby: That's you; that's you. You're like the toddler talking”—

Feli: —pretty much.

Shelby: “Hey, guys…” [Laughter] Oh, that's awesome.

Okay; I want you to tell me your personal story about when you came to know Jesus, because I love your story about what God did: using TikTok, and drugs, and quarantine, and the Holy Spirit. Walk us through what was going on in your life that led up to that/that specific time when you became a Christian.

Feli: Yes; I like grew up in a pretty big household, second oldest of eight. I grew up in a small town in Indiana.

Shelby: And you're/both of your parents are Latino; right?

Feli: Yes; my dad's Puerto Rican; my mom's Mexican.

If you would've asked me a couple years ago, I'd be like, “Yes, we are Christian. I grew up in a Christian household”; but that really just meant that I went to church every Sunday with my family; but outside of church, and anything I was doing with the church, I was not applying that to my life at all. It was just like two different lives that I was living.

During all that time, I was definitely searching for a lot of different things. I found myself in hookup culture. And then, after a really toxic relationship, I was like super-dependent on smoking marijuana. And then, as I came to college, I kept associating myself with the partying type of crowd. I'd party every single weekend. I would get drunk if I didn't have something to smoke, or I would just do them both.

And then, I started hanging out with people, who did other things. I started taking study drugs, and I went on and progressed to shrooms. Honestly, I was just like down—like this thing of just like—“Everybody is doing more things, and this thing kind of isn't doing what it used to for me; so I'm just going to keep progressing.”

And then, yes, we got sent home my second semester of my freshman year—

Shelby: —because of COVID.

Feli: Yes; I checked out completely. I was a theater performance major at the time. Most of the classes that you're taking involve you needing to interact with somebody, be like an active skit or—

Shelby: Yes, you’re with community; yep.

Feli: Yes; Zoom was pretty/like new to most people; so like it was hard to do any of that stuff, so it was just solo. I would, literally, like turn off my camera—be like smoking in my room—and not even paying attention to class. I slid by, and so I just like I checked out. I kind of isolated; and I just really spiraled, honestly, into like really dark thoughts and all that.

Sophomore year comes around; that's still different because of COVID. My state was required—like people moving in from certain states were required—to quarantine before they can move on campus.

Shelby: Yes, so you're coming back from Indiana—going back to New York state—that you have to quarantine before you get on campus; how long?

Feli: Yes, two weeks I was required to quarantine. I didn't really pay attention to the ins and outs of what that meant. Like honestly, by day three, when my test results came in, I actually could have left; I didn't know that until like weeks later.

Shelby: Jesus did.

Feli: Yes, exactly! [Laughter]

Shelby: So where'd you go? Did you check into like a hotel, or like an Airbnb, or—

Feli: The school paid for a hotel—and like rent out a whole bunch of rooms—because they knew a lot of students were going to come in and need to quarantine. So yes, my parents dropped me; and two weeks, I was like, “I don't plan on doing anything differently.” My routine at the time—because I just got off of like summer break; and you know, even before, because I was checked out of school was—you know, to sleep a lot, eat a lot, and to scroll on my social medias; and then, of course, to just like not be sober/just like stay high. That's what I wanted to do.

I didn't plan accordingly, so I ran out very quickly of my stash. Not even a couple days in, I ran out. Like now, it's like I'm bored and like I don't like being in my silver mind; so I'm going to sleep a lot more, and I'm going to scroll on TikTok a whole lot more; and that's what I did.

And the first like day or two, of me scrolling through TikTok, I just like randomly got a Christian content creator. I considered myself Christian. They were talking about Jesus: “I love Jesus.” And I was like/I liked it. And I couldn't have liked more than a couple videos before my entire algorithm change. And now, it wasn't Charli D’amelio and all these dance routines I was trying to learn—like, literally, a couple days ago—it was just: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus—and so much about Jesus—and almost every single content creator that I came was a high schooler, or like my age, like they were like kids.

And I'm like, “What is so different?” Because I say that I'm a Christian—I say that I love Jesus—but these people are like radically changed to the point, where they're on this social media platform, as kids, sharing their faith with people and telling people it's important. I don’t do that.

Shelby: They’re not trying to make money off of it.

Feli: Yes.

Shelby: They're just like saying, “This is what's up”; yes.

Feli: Yes; I was like/so I started asking myself hard questions, like: “Do I really know Jesus?” “Am I really saved?” “What is going on here?”

As I was scrolling, coming across different content creators. I came across this pastor.

Somebody posted a snippet of one of his sermons. He was talking about Jesus loving His people. And I was like: “I've heard that before, but this seems different”; so I'm going to go look for this pastor on YouTube. I found him, and he had the sermon series, titled “You Are Loved” and another sermon series called “Grace, Like a Flood.”

And so those two/like just those titles alone, really caught my attention. I made it—like I was going to watch these/like the full thing—the whole entire sermon series, probably/maybe, like eight sermons each—and so, in the morning, I would watch one of the sermons from one series; notate about it; and then, personally, go into the Scripture that he covered, and read it myself, and see what I got from it.

And then I would eat; you know, probably sleep some; and then go back on TikTok. There was a whole bunch of Christian content creators; and some of them were on live, doing Bible studies. I would join in on those, and I was just getting so much Jesus. [Laughter]

And, then, before I went to sleep—

Shelby: —from so much weed to so much Jesus. [Laughter]

Feli: Yes! So then, before I would go to sleep, I would do the same thing that I did in the morning, but with the other sermon series. I would watch the sermon series; notate on it; and then, go into the Scripture myself, and read about it; then go to sleep. Repeat it the next day. So about—maybe like a week and a half of that—every single morning, wake up with a sermon series, like dive into Jesus; and then, every single night do the same exact thing.

It started to click: like I started to understand, for the first time, that I was loved by God and that He was a gracious God. And like I said, I grew up in the church, and I heard these terms before—but it was just like in a passing-type statement, like, “You're loved by Jesus,”—and I'm just like: “This guy loves everybody,”—like—"What about it?” But it was personal now; like it really meant something to me that there was a God, who loved me so much in all my nastiness, and all my sin, and all of my faults that everybody else would just bail on me for. He loved me so much that He came up with a plan to reconcile our relationship that I separated us from.

It was like beautiful; because I didn't need to be, do, or say anything to merit that type of favor. It was simply on His grace and His love for me. It was like crazy/like radical that that type of love exists; because all this time, I'm just like: “I need to earn somebody's love and somebody's likeness towards me.” And I didn't need to do that.

Shelby: It's totally the opposite of everything that goes on in your brain and your heart, all the time, you think: “I got to do to get,” “I got to do to get,” “I got to do to get.” And then, you hear the concept of grace. Because everybody's heard the term, “grace,” even if you've even heard this song, Amazing Grace, like everybody knows what the word, apparently means; but they don't actually understand. It's like: “Oh, I can't do anything in order to get the love that You want to give me.” That doesn't make sense in our heads—we don't/we can't comprehend it—it's too far beyond us.

So you grasp this kind of for the first time, over the course of a week. What happens? Is there a moment, when you have a coming-to-Jesus moment, or was it like a little gradual process?

Feli: Yes.

Shelby: Tell me about that.

Feli: I go back to university, and I didn't really change much. I understood what was supposed to be happening—like I understood—

Shelby: So it was in your head.

Feli: —what Jesus did. But I was really, really stubborn of wanting to give up certain things that I was doing. I knew—and I think that's how—like I, looking back now, like that's how I knew that I actually received the Holy Spirit. I did accept this as truth; because anytime I engaged in that stuff, I was just like: “This is worthless; this isn't doing anything for me,” and “I don't know why I keep going back to it,”—like—“You know that this isn't right for you, Feli”; but I kept doing it anyways.

When it really clicked for me was: one time, I was hanging out with a friend. We were doing shrooms together, and we were having deep conversation the entire time.

And it was like I had no problem of like the things that I was sharing with him and even was sharing my faith with him. But he said one thing—and it instantly sobered me up and made me devastated—he said, “Feli, you are the most spiritual, like, godly-filled person I know.”

And I was like, “Oh, my gosh! I'm preaching Jesus, and I'm like actually showing him Jesus, but nothing in my life has changed; and that's what he thinks it means to walk with Him.” I was devastated; and I was like, “No, I need to live a surrendered life.” That was probably October. So between August and October, that's the little time period that it really clicked for me; and I was like, “Yes, I/there's more to just accepting the grace, but like acting on it now,”—like—"I need to live a surrendered life.”

Yes, those are things I still struggle with—like I still am tempted by past addictions, and lust, and all that stuff—but it's like really sweet to not have to do that by myself and to know, now, that like I'm not a slave to that—like then, it was something I was constantly giving into; because it felt like I had no choice or no will to say, “No,” to it—but now, like I have that option—that by the grace of God and through the Holy Spirit—I have the strength to be like, “No; no thank you.”

Shelby: It’s so amazing to hear how God transformed your life and orchestrated all the details, the perfect details.

You mentioned: “Oh, I could have left the quarantine after two days, but I didn't even know it,”—or three days/whatever—do you think that's a coincidence?

Feli: Absolutely not. [Laughter]

Shelby: Of course, not! That's like exactly the finger of God made your brain forget; or like maybe like shuffle the emails around so you didn't get to see what the reality was—that you had to stay in that hotel room—so that He could bring you to Himself: the end of yourself and the beginning of Himself.

[Shelby Sidebar]

Shelby: And now it's time for what I call a “Shelby Sidebar” on Real Life Loading… This will be a short story, an illustration, or a thought that simply helps you process gospel truth.

Not too long ago, I saw this video: it was a story of a model filming a commercial, and she got attacked by a lion. They were, obviously, bringing this lion in to film with this model; and the lion, obviously, got upset about something; and then, he mauled this model during the filming of the commercial.

Afterward, they were interviewing a bunch of people, who were involved in this. The main person [whom] they were interviewing was the handler of the lion. The handler was, basically, like distraught/very, very upset about what had happened. He said stuff like: “You know, I've had this lion it's entire life. I adopted him when he was a cub. He's never been violent with anyone. I don't know what happened.”

As I watched the story, I thought to myself, “Uh, it's a lion; it just does what a lion does.” It made me think about how, in our lives, we try to do the same thing with our sin:

We've known it maybe for a long time; we've known this particular sin in our lives. We've coddled it; we've raised it. We think we have it under control; but eventually, it's going to attack because it's sin.

There's no such thing as personal sin management. Kill your sin, or it will kill you.

This has been a Shelby Sidebar on Real Life Loading... Now, back to my time with Feli Velez, who’s going to share about this past summer when she was able to witness to and pray for her skeptical, wild lifeguard coworkers. And then, we'll talk about why vulnerability, humility, and community are so important in the Christian life.


Shelby: So while you're there in Ocean City, on the summer mission, you do a number of different/like spiritual bootcamp type things—prayer, Bible study, evangelism, women's time—you know, intentional stuff there. But during the days, you have a job—you get a job while you're in Ocean City—and you were a lifeguard at the Hilton Hotel at the pool there. As you were a lifeguard, I know that, sometimes, it was awful; and sometimes, it was great. I watched your BeReals over the summer; so I know, sometimes, it was great.

Do you have any crazy lifeguard stories from the summer?

Feli: Like hearing the word, “crazy”—at first, I'm just like, “No; it was kind of like lame.” [Laughter]

Shelby: —sat around; wore sunglasses; watched kids.

Feli: Yes, yes; like there wasn't crazy things going on.

But then/I mean, actually, thinking about it, I saw God move in like powerful ways; and so that might be crazy to some people.

Shelby: Okay; how?

Feli: I worked with all guys, and they're all close friends. They would get together, and they would make jokes about what I'm doing there and wouldn't really take me seriously. But there was a specific time, where one of my coworkers—he came to me while I was sitting on stand—so his guy friends weren't there. And we were just talking about his relationship with his mom and how he's like really angry at her for something. I was asking him just kind of deeper questions, like try to unpack what, in their relationship, causes him to be angry with her.

He asked me to pray for him; and I was like, “That's insane,” because this guy was making fun of me.

Shelby: So he knew you were on the mission; right? He knew you were there as like a “professional” Christian over the summer.

Feli: Yes, yes, yes; but like they would make jokes about it. They'd be like: “Oh, like Cru® is just a kidnapping crew,” and “They kidnap kids, and they make them come here and like talk about Jesus.” [Laughter] And so they did not take me seriously at all. And they would just like egg each other on, you know, whenever they were together, that would be like the jokes that would happen.

But he—and never judge a book by its cover—but I was/honestly, I was like: “This guy's going to be the biggest challenge for me to ever connect with while I'm here; because he just seems to not care,” and “Like he wouldn't/I don't think he'd want to know what I have to say or what God has to say.” And he came up to me, like a couple weeks in; he was like: “Could you like, maybe, pray for that relationship and, also, for my anger issues?”

Shelby: Wow.

Feli: He came back the next day. He was like—because he asked me to pray, specifically, because he was going to have to go home; and he just didn't think he was going to handle it correctly—he said that it went well/like the conversation went well; and he wasn't upset about it.

So then, they would come up to me—and it was kind of/I think they thought it was like this wizardly type thing, like—[Laughter]

Shelby: Yes; you're like a genie.

Feli: Yes, whenever they didn't want to work, they'd be like, “Pray it rains today.” And I'm just like, “What?!” [Laughter]

Shelby: “Sorry, I don't grant wishes over here.” [Laughter]

Feli: I'd text/I’d be like, “That's not how it works.” [Laughter]

Shelby: Yes, yes. [Laughter]

Feli: Yes; but like there would be times, where they would have like actual/like randomly just genuine conversations about: “Okay; what does Feli think?” Or like, “How can…”—like Feli speaking to this situation—because they think it's me talking. But I'm just like: “This is what God's teaching me…” “This is what God's taught me over the years…”

I had a couple of conversations with like coworkers. I was just like: “They seem a bit difficult”; and then, somehow, like it winds up being resolved; and we became like good friends. You know, it wasn't weird at all. That was really, really cool. I would say, like, “That's kind of crazy, just like to see how God was just sparking up conversations; and that I was like, ‘I could never do this.’”

Like I went in there, the first day; and I was like, “How am I going to share the gospel?” And then, I didn't share the gospel; because I was learning so much about my coworkers that day, like their personal lives. I was like, “This is perfect; because now, I can/I know them, and I love them, and I do care for them,”—and so now, it's not this agenda of like: “I need to share the gospel with them,”—[instead] "How can I speak into their life?”—just like live a Spirit-filled life and let the Holy Spirit work.

Because it's not about what Feli can say; it's about, you know, what He is going to—because He can speak the gospel to somebody without even me needing to say the gospel—you know, just in the way that I act or just a simple thing of prayer. Like I don't know if my coworker thinks about that, and how that worked for him, and if there is a God, who's listening to him and his struggles.

Shelby: I think that's one of the major lessons that I've learned, over time, too, is that God does not need me. He doesn't need me; He can do whatever He wants, however He wants. You're living proof of that:

That this—like totally slandered social media app called TikTok—so anybody, who's not a Gen Zer, so anybody older than Gen Z is like—“TikTok is stupid. TikTok: people are watching us from overseas; and like it's this addictive, horrible thing, where people are just drooling in front of their phones, learning nothing/doing nothing.”

And then, God was like, “Oh, really? Okay; why don't we just take TikTok, like flip it on its head, and use it, intentionally, to bring people to Jesus.” The numbers are astounding of how many people are saying, “Yes,” to God. And who knows if those numbers are real—I don't know—but God knows people’s hearts.

Feli: But there's got to be some; there is definitely.

Shelby: There's got to be genuineness.

And you know, I remember you, too, telling me—like the first week of your time at the lifeguard stand—just being like: “Yes, it's really hard. Like my coworkers are kind of mean, and they kind of make fun of me.” And then, seeing that shift, subtly over time, and then following your BeReal, too, of like all your pictures ended up being with these dudes.

Feli: Yes, just like a selfie. I got like videos of us.

Shelby: You’re like flashing deuces all over the—[Laughter]—so you're like [deep voice], “This is the greatest job ever!”

Feli: “We film TikToks together.” [Laughter]

Shelby: Well, I mean, through/you've been from the beginning to the end—you're done with the summer mission now—what, in general, what was the major takeaway from the summer for you? Like what do you feel like: “If you were to boil it down to maybe one thing that God taught you the most strongly, what was it?”

Feli: Vulnerability—like being humble—humility type thing with Him. I noticed that, even beforehand—you know, like when I would like struggle with things—I would boil myself down to a point, where it's like [desperate sounding], “Now, all I can do is ask God for help.” I would; I would go to Him—and I would like get on my knees, and I would like cry out to Him—and I would feel like this weight being lifted off of me, and like just freedom from whatever it was that I wasn't giving to Him; you know? But it took me having to be humble—and like surrendering that—in vulnerability towards Him. We see that like in the Psalms—which I love the Psalms—and like David's writings.

And then, also, in the sense of like community; like I experienced so much freedom from talking about things that I never shared with anybody before. I'd share my testimony—I'll share about all the things like the past stuff that I've gotten over—but it was really hard for me to talk about the things that I'm like, now, that I'm struggling with.

Shelby: Yes, something you're in right now.

Feli: Yes; Becks—[spelling uncertain]—she challenged me, like in my little vision board that she gave me; she was like—

Shelby: —your Bible study leader over the summer.

Feli: Yes, yes; she challenged me. She said: “I know you're so open about your faith,” and “Like you're open about like the past, and you're not ashamed of that; because you see God working through that,” but “I really challenge you to share about the hard things that you're going through now, because I think there's freedom in that.”

Yes; like I did/like I learned so much about like humility in the sense of community: you know, sharing things that I'm struggling with that are going on back home, that are stressing me out now. Or like having confrontations with people, that are like, “I don't want to address it”; because, in my pride, I'm just like, “I can deal with it myself, and I'll get over it myself”; but then, I would have a conversation with that person, and the friendship is so much better; and like now, we can grow and get past this.

Yes, just like growth and humility is such a big thing that I took from this summer.

Shelby: Yes; so, so important; yes. Because you can listen to a story like yours, and go, “Oh, she was bad; and then, she met Jesus; and now, she's good.” And that's the opposite of what your point/the point is of your story.

Feli: Yes.

Shelby: The point is: “She was bad; Jesus forgave her. She's in the process of becoming more and more like Him.”

I think that's what a lot of people hear when they hear stories like yours/testimonies like yours. It's like a fascinating story, and it's very attractive to listen to; it's like: “Oh, this was dark. Oh, what a transformation; and now, she's okay.”

But the truth is: “You're not okay.” I don't know if you knew this, but you're not okay.

Feli: No.

Shelby: I'm not okay.

Feli: Right, right.

Shelby: And we're all in process. I think that there's a caution that you need to take specifically, as someone who communicates their testimony, and then goes, “Yes, I need to talk to you about the stuff that I'm dealing with right now.”

So like here's a specific: “Did you find”—like since Ocean City, Maryland, is a hot spot for a lot of high school seniors, who come and party, and smoke weed—“was that attractive to you when you smelled the weed in the air?”—because of your past experiences.

Feli: Yes, yes; and you know what?—even on my drive back home, the moment that I knew I didn't have that closeness of like keeping me accountable—and people [to whom] I could bring it to—I could still bring it to them; but like not in that/like in the house that I'm living in—you know, it was so much more difficult to like be on track and to deny that. I think it was even more appealing when I left the house, just the day afterwards; you know?

  • But yes, I would say, “Definitely—like I don't know if drugs was like really appealing to me—but I would say like lust, and like relationships, and things like that, and stressing over those types of things—yes, that was really appealing, for sure.
  • I was working around families, who would come on family vacation; and dads and moms, playing with their kids. I, honestly—like comparison, you know, of like, Oh, why don't I have that yet?”—and I don't even have an option around me—"So how am I going to get to that point?”

So yes, I think those things are really what I struggled with during the summer.

Shelby: Yes; thanks for being honest. I appreciate that. a

As you think about the family of God—you're, obviously, a family woman; you have a lot of siblings/a bigger family—how has the family of God been a life-giving anchor for you?

“As you think broadly about what it means to be in this family of people, who follow Jesus, how have they been a life-giving anchor for you?”

Feli: Yes, I think I've just been encouraged to keep on pursuing God; because it's not just me who He's changing—like He's changing people all around me—and everybody's story is different. I love hearing everybody's different stories. I think it's really just like—because I know so many people's different stories—and like the things I learn from different people, and like the hard walks that they had to walk through, and what God taught them through it—it's really taught me to just love people more, in general.

I think I was really a surface-level person, where I didn’t, in my friendships—even though I wanted to be liked by you and accepted by you—it was kind of just like, “I'm just going to be surface-level; because if this doesn't work out, it probably won't hurt that bad if we're not friends anymore.”

Shelby: Right; yes; “Don't engage the heart,” “Can't hurt the heart.”

Feli: Yes; and I/that's like so impossible for me to do now. I just love people. I think that's what the family has like taught me, for sure: it's just how to love on people, who are different than me—[whom] I might not always agree with—who are definitely going through things, because we're all going through it.

Shelby: That's so great.

Thank you for agreeing to be on the show today; but thank you, mostly, for yielding your life to Jesus—and that the way that He's gifted you and He's wired you, in a very specific way—He's going to utilize those gifts in some very specific ways. I've already seen that happen, and I'm really excited to see what God's going to do with you in the future.

Thanks, Feli.

Feli: Thanks, Shelby; thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Shelby: Of course, the story continues with Feli. We didn't get a chance to even tell you about how she was able to lead her little sister to Christ after she became a Christian; and now, her sister, in many ways, is the major evangelist in the family. It's just incredible; God can do whatever He wants/however He wants.

If this episode with Feli Velez was helpful for you, I'd love for you to share today's podcast with a friend. And wherever you get your podcasts, it can really advance what we're doing with Real Life Loading… if you'd rate and review us. It's super easy to find us on our social channels; just search for Real Life Loading…, or look for our links in the show notes.

I want to thank my producers, Josh Batson and Bruce Goff. I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time on Real Life Loading…

.most matter that relationships the pursue you Helping

.ministry Cru a ,FamilyLife® of production a is …Loading Life Real


We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs? 

Copyright © 2022 FamilyLife. All rights reserved.