One80 Podcast Episode 56

Tytiyana Jones: Bullied, Now Contagious Joy

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Margaret Ereneta: We sat down with TyTiana Jones and I have to tell you, she is miss smiley. Like the most joyful gal I’ve ever met. But it wasn’t always that way. 

Time was bullied as a young person. And struggled with self-harm and even thoughts of suicide. It was her brother who encouraged her while incarcerated. It was his faith that sustained her and helped her live into her Christ given identity. Now Ty’s joy is contagious. 

Welcome to Ty’s One80. 

Ryan Henry: Ty, it is so, good to have you on our One80 show. How are you doing today?

Tytiyana Jones: I am doing great. So good to be here, Ryan. Thanks for having me!

Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. we’re so happy to have you. It’s going to be a great conversation. I’m so, so excited. Awesome. Well, we’d like to start off our show with a random question. Hopefully you like it. So TY if you knew you could live forever.

How would you spend your days differently?

Tytiyana Jones: If I knew I could live forever, hmm. I probably would ask every question in the world without consequence. Like, cause I wouldn’t know there wouldn’t be any consequences, so I would just ask a whole bunch of questions. Even if I didn’t want to know the answer, I would just ask them. 

Ryan Henry: Wow, so you’re questioning everybody.

Tytiyana Jones: Yeah. Just wanna know everything. 

Ryan Henry: Wow. that’s a very unique way to spend your days. Just asking questions. You get along with my kids very well. They love to ask questions.

Oh man. Awesome. let’s jump into your story. 

Tytiyana Jones: So I’m from a little town in the south suburbs called Linwood. I was born in Indiana, but we moved to Linwood when I was born. And I’ve been there all 22 years of my life. I grew up with a single mom and then my grandma has always been around.

and my dad popped in and out. Every once in a while, but it’s mainly been my mom and then I have two older brothers 

Ryan Henry: Well, okay. So growing up in Linwood, and, basically raised by, your mother, your grandmother.

 what was life like? as far as the vibe in Linwood and just your community. then also if you can start talking about the faith component, you know, how did that weave in there? 

 So. Wynwood is a small town, ethnically diverse, of course, so that was good, had a couple close relationships with some of my neighbors, the youngest kids basically grew up together, so we all went to school together all our life. I grew up in church. So I’ve been going to church ever since I was in my mom’s stomach, And I’ve been going to a church on the west side of Chicago 

Tytiyana Jones: It’s far drive, but it’s worth it. I still go when I have the chance 

Ryan Henry: okay. 

 Growing up? I know that you went to church, but just because you go to church doesn’t mean that you, you know, believe in God, even, ?

Ryan Henry: What was your personal view of God at the time? 

Tytiyana Jones: I definitely questioned, like, who is this person you’re talking about? this doesn’t seem real. So I definitely questioned it at first, but My youth leaders always, helped me with that, and they would explain it in terms that, like, I could understand as a child so they worked their way in my life, and basically taught me who God was, and who Jesus was, and the Holy Trinity, and just took stories from the Bible and kind of made them, like, cartoony, in a way, and from there I just, kept reading and I think I joined church when I was like seven or eight, but I was baptized when I was little.

Ryan Henry: okay. Wow. Wow. I love what you said about how your youth leaders made it kind of like cartoony for you to understand Because I think of Jesus doing that like the way he shared his parables, like let me give you something you can understand 

So maybe you were a little confused in the very beginning not quite sure if this was real But over time you started to be able to understand more about who God was Okay, did you understand that Jesus died for your sin and all that?

Tytiyana Jones: I did but I also was like why would someone die for me if they don’t even know me or know that I will exist. and then I was like, well, my mom always told me that he’s all knowing so that I can believe it and like he just popped up in weird ways. Yeah, but I didn’t expect him to when I was younger and it just made me believe it even more because I’ve had, A kind of I wouldn’t say rough childhood, but I’ve had some rough experiences.

Ryan Henry: so just seeing like different people in my life come in and help grow me and read me the Bible even more Helps me with that a lot.yeah, that’s super good. 

you were mentioning that, um, God like showed up in your childhood. It was kind of a rough childhood, but there were moments that he like showed up. Is there a particular like example that you could share of that?? 

Yeah, plenty. So there was this one time where my brother was going through kind of a rough patch, and he was sent to a boot camp, so he was gone for a while, and that was kind of a struggle for me, because my brother is like, we’re like two peas in a pod, we have the same dad and the same mom, so we get along really, really well.

And he’s the person that I go to when I’m struggling with anything. So when he was sent to the bootcamp, I kind of felt like I lost like a half of me. 

Tytiyana Jones: We got to visit him every once in a while but it’s just not the same when he’s actually like in the vicinity that you’re in so I was struggling with that and I was going through a bit of a depression stage. I was young but kids are ruthless in school so I was being bullied and he was my support. And my encourager, so when he got sent to boot camp, I lost my way a bit, and I let people affect me, and I wasn’t focused on God saying like, you’re my daughter, so you are fine, and you can seek refuge in me, and I was trying to find that elsewhere, 

Ryan Henry: Yeah. 

Tytiyana Jones: my brother was that reminding factor for me, 

Ryan Henry: That’s so cool. that your oldest? Because you have two older

Tytiyana Jones: Yeah, it’s the oldest.

Ryan Henry: The oldest one. Aww, that’s so cool. so he was kind of like that, solid rock for you during that really hard time.

Tytiyana Jones: Yeah.

Ryan Henry: Was there any other things that really made life difficult in this time?

Tytiyana Jones: So pretty much my entire upbringing I was bullied and that just made my entire life just rough because I started to believe it and It was just terrible when I was questioning God, like why did you make me look so different? So it just made life rough, but my brother helped make life Better and he’s the reason why I’m like so close to God because he’s like you got to just pray about it and It made life better.

Ryan Henry: Would you say, that, that time when you were getting really bullied that that was like your all time low?

Tytiyana Jones: No, I think my old time low was when my brother was sent to prison 

Ryan Henry: Hmm.

Tytiyana Jones: That really broke me because he was gone and he I was there for his sentencing and he was sentenced to 40 plus years , 

Ryan Henry: Oh my goodness. 

Tytiyana Jones: yeah, it was rough. 

Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. How did you handle that? 

Tytiyana Jones: Um, I cried. And then I was told not to cry and to pray by my mom and my grandma. They didn’t, um, we got to see him one last time before he got sent away. And my grandma, my mom, was like, Stop crying, like, he doesn’t need to see you cry. He’s already upset. And she told me to just pray for him and pray with him and you’ll be fine.

And, um, she told me that everything happens for a reason. So that, that altercation actually ended up Saving him because now he’s like an even better person than what he is, what he was, and has way better friends. Um, so as she said, you just have to trust God and he’ll be home soon.

So I started doing that, and he told me the same thing, so it made it a little easier for me to accept that. 

Ryan Henry: Wow. That must have been so hard, especially because you said earlier that he was like your second half.

Tytiyana Jones: Yeah, it was like a part of me was being ripped away, so it was very hard.

Ryan Henry: Where was God in all that?

Tytiyana Jones: He was, he was definitely there because my brother, you know, when people get sentenced, they sometimes can have an irrational reaction and just lose faith altogether. But my brother is very prayerful and he still is to this day. So when we have calls, he prays sometimes with me. Or he’ll ask me like, how can I help you?

Or what’s wrong? Are you okay? Um, so he’s, he’s definitely there and he’s definitely still working. Because now my brother has. to give him the opportunity to fight his case again. And we didn’t think that, um, that would happen because of his sentencing, but it happened. So that’s, that’s nobody but God, trying to send him home. 

Ryan Henry: Wow. That’s amazing. so life is going on your brother,gets sentenced to 40 years in prison. Where did things go for you? 

Tytiyana Jones: Yeah. So, um, he’s been locked up since I, I believe I was in middle school, so ever since then, he’s been away. Um, but it really spiraled for me So when I didn’t have anybody to talk to once I became a freshman in high school, and that’s when the bullying got ten times worse, and I became very suicidal and depressed, so I didn’t have My rock with me.

So I kind of just questioned God a lot and was like, why is this happening to me? Like, what did I do? I’ve been going to church. I’ve been praying and leaning on you. So why am I struggling and being treated this way? And, um, my brother would When he calls, he would be encouraging to me. He didn’t really know for a while that I was struggling because I don’t like to tell people when I’m struggling.

so he was like, some things are off, like our calls aren’t the same. Like you’re not happy. So he kind of knew, then my mom kind of knew, because I lost my happiness, like I’m bubbly now, but I wasn’t. Um, so they kind of saw the shift in me, and it was hard to open up, but I just opened up to my mom, and then she told my brother that your sister’s struggling. 

 Because she knows that he’s the, he’s like really easy for me to talk to. So then I told him and he, I wouldn’t say he was angry, but he was a little upset that he wasn’t there to help me get through that time.

So he felt like a little bit was his fault. But then we like prayed together and I was talking to my pastor at the time and he prayed for both of us. And kind of from there things just kind of went uphill. Um. Just with the prayers and he said that it’s just the devil trying to bring me down because he’s not there.

My brother’s very wise, which is great. Um, I, and just seeing him keep his hope and faith in God, even when he’s in a terrible situation, encouraged me as well. And he told me that I am God’s perfect daughter, and I’m perfect in his eyes, and that people will come into my life who want to be in my life and to grow with me, so I have to just let certain people go and accept others, and since then, I’ve been God’s perfect daughter.

Getting really good friends, and I kept some of my childhood friends, and they’re really encouraging, and my brother loves my one friend, Max, because we grew up together, and he’s still in my life to this day, and it’s just been a very great, great experience.

Ryan Henry: you said something that I think a lot of people can relate to you were talking about being in the midst of this depression and, having these suicidal thoughts. what was that like to feel like, okay, I’ve been going to church.

I’ve been doing the things, but this seems like life is not working. what did that moment feel like, or what did that season, how intense did it get?

Tytiyana Jones: yeah, that’s a great question. Um, it was pretty intense. My mom, I think my mom was the main benefactor there, because she Kind of had this moment where she was like you’re doing this to yourself I didn’t know because I didn’t see it because people that usually self harm do it in places where no one can see it So it kind of like puts them in control in a way So that’s kind of how I felt like I was in control of my life Instead of things just going awry and not my way But I think it was my mom saying Why do you want to take your life away?

When you know we love you so much and that kind of hit really hard. And I just started bawling. ’cause my mom being a single mom, I know it was rough for her. So if one thing goes bad for me, why do I just feel the need to give up when she like fought so hard to keep going, um, and to raise us. So I think that moment, even though it was really tough and it was really hard, and it was just a bunch of empty dark space that.

That phrase that she said to me really hit close to home because I knew that my mom loved me and that meant more to me than any bully in the entire world trying to hurt me, 

Ryan Henry: Wow, that’s so powerful. That’s like a major flip of your, thought process,

I would imagine it was so hard to be in what you were in, but when you are in those moments, it’s so easy and it’s also very sneaky because you don’t realize it, but you can get very me, me, me.

 and why is all this happening to me? But for you, it sounded like it switched and it changed when you were able to think about, how are my decisions going to impact other people? And especially other people who really love me, 

Tytiyana Jones: Yeah, because it wasn’t just happening to me, like, it was happening to her, it was happening to my grandma, it wasn’t just happening to me, it was happening to everyone around me, and I had the, like, the thought, like you said, like, I had that thought of, well, if I was to take my life, how would that make my brother feel when he tried so hard to keep me on the right track? So, that really helped me come out of it

Ryan Henry: you said you were baptized around like eight? 

Tytiyana Jones: Yeah, I was young.

Ryan Henry: you were young. Okay. how did you come back to Christ?

Or is it even fair to say coming back to Christ, would you say that is more of an awakening? we actually have a word for this. it’s called a reckoning. where, there’s like an extra step between that moment you come to Jesus and when it becomes real and there’s like real change in you, we refer to that as a reckoning. can you pinpoint a time where you were like, okay, I’m coming back, I’m coming to the Lord and I’m all in?

Tytiyana Jones: hmm. I think it definitely became real when someone who’s behind bars, aka my brother, keeps his faith even when he’s in a tough situation and he just keeps pouring into me. And that’s how I knew, like, this is real. This is God’s plan for my brother to continue to be my rock with God through him, to continue to pray for me, and that helped me not lose hope.

If my brother didn’t lose hope, then why should I? And he’s in a way tougher situation than I’m in

Ryan Henry: Wow. When the lack of joy and how your mom was noticing that things were different, your brother noticed things were different. When did it start to shift? How did it start to shift?

Tytiyana Jones: It definitely shifted one day when I was on a long call with my brother, like you only get a certain amount of time, but he kept calling back. And we were just talking about how our, like how life was. And my brother doesn’t really cry, but he was crying. And I was very astonished because I’ve never really seen him cry.

And he was crying that I was like hurting a lot. And he just started praying and that really awakened me for sure, for sure, that he’s even praying and it’s not even his pain, if that makes sense. 

Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. 

Tytiyana Jones: Yeah, very powerful. My brother is definitely a warrior. And I definitely look up to him even when he’s not even here

Ryan Henry: beautiful. And even in prison, God can use and move through people.

Tytiyana Jones: Mm hmm. 

Ryan Henry: I think that’s something that people, often don’t realize, but there’s such a move of God that’s happening in the prisons, your brother, just be an example of that. How like your life is still valuable. Even though you’ve made mistakes and you’re, you having to go through the consequences of those mistakes, but God still sees you as a valuable life, and if you’re willing, God can use you in amazing ways. 

Tytiyana Jones: it’s even better to see him now because He just looks, first of all, he just looks so good, like, he looks like he’s not even in prison, he looks that great, um, which is great, like, he doesn’t, some people that go to prison, they just lose everything, like, they lose their hope, they lose faith, and he, It looks very healthy and has a well mind and a sound mind and he’s even reading like he loves to read and he’s still doing that and he’s the reason why his case is being fought again because he contacted a lawyer through my mom and did all the research on his own and I was like, wow.

Like you still have faith and hope that you are coming home and he’ll tell me Yeah, I’ll be home. I’ll be home real soon. Don’t don’t worry. And I’m like have so much faith. I love 

Ryan Henry: Oh, that’s so good. That night of prayer, that long phone call with him.

Tytiyana Jones: Mm. 

Ryan Henry: What happened in your heart?

Tytiyana Jones: I definitely felt like my heart jumped for joy. 

Ryan Henry: hmm. 

Tytiyana Jones: Because I, I feel like there was something he said. I don’t 100 percent remember everything he said because I was bawling. But there was, I think there was something he said or asked God to do for me. And I felt like a reassurance that things will be, will be fine and get better for me.

Margaret Ereneta: Thanks for listening to 180. We really appreciate your likes and shares. Please consider leaving us a review on your favorite pod player. Now back to the show. 

Tytiyana Jones: And they definitely have. being the only child to go to school right now, Um, and the amazing people that I’m surrounded by. It definitely has changed and things are definitely better. And my mental health is better. And I’ve been way more hopeful, and more connected to God, And I pray a lot more. And when he’ll call, he’ll pray with me, or for me, or I’ll pray for him, and it just keeps us going

Ryan Henry: Wow. That’s so cool. love that! So, okay, from that phone call, how did things progress? What happened next? how old were you when that happened?

Tytiyana Jones: I was in high school, so maybe like, 16? 

Ryan Henry: Okay, so from 16 to 22 to 22 now, how did things progress?

Ty: Very well!

Ryan Henry: Yeah, talk to us

Ty: It was very They progressed really well, which is surprising, but not surprising at all. Um, From there, I ended up dropping a lot of friends that were trying to take me down the wrong path. And I got new friends, who I’m still friends with to this day.

Ryan Henry: All right.

Ty: I had a couple friends that weren’t even Christians at the time.

Except Christ, which is good. And more friends even opened to the possibility of Um, You know, going to Christian schools and just trying to connect with people that don’t know God. And going, like, I found that excitement to go to church again. I joined my church choir

Ryan Henry: All right.

Ty: it’s just been great. Um, I definitely have that joy for God again.

And, yeah, there are some times where sometimes I doubt certain things, but at the same time I just get wrapped back around to knowing God has this under control and I will be fine. Because of how encouraging my brother was. So, I’ve never found myself going back down that path, which is amazing, because it was very scary.

Ryan Henry: Right. Yeah. It’s cool to hear that you turned from self harm and started walking a new walk. Do you feel like other people noticed the change in you?

Tytiyana Jones: I definitely do. Um, my best friend,  Max, that I talked about a little earlier, he definitely did. 

Ryan Henry: And then after your, prayer with your brother and you started to make changes, do you think he noticed that there is a change for the positive 

Tytiyana Jones: I Definitely think he did cuz when he heard that I joined , the choir at church. He’s like, that’s where you need to be. He’s like, we have singing and praise in our blood and you’re where you need to be. And he was just happy to know that I was happy to be singing because me and him are both musical and it’s great and he’s very excited to hear that I was singing and worshiping the Lord and it was great.

Ryan Henry: Yeah. So cool. It’s such an amazing story and, what you were caught in is such a destructive thing. 

But that type of thing, that self harm that self hatred is so real and so many people, I think, especially your generation struggling with that. What would you say? to your old self, or to listeners, who might be in that same spot, what would you want to say to them?

Tytiyana Jones: I would definitely say that you are not alone and you can definitely find someone to talk things through with and as long as you trust in the Lord that he is your refuge and your protection and will bring good people into your life to bring you out of that darkness, you are in a good state

Ryan Henry: That’s amazing. Well, you heard it straight from Ty. Overcomer Ty. I’m going to start calling you Overcomer Ty.

Tytiyana Jones: Okay, works. 

Ryan Henry: what are you doing now? And how did you get there? what is God doing in your life and opening up different opportunities? Talk to us about that. 

Tytiyana Jones: Hmm. Yeah, so I ended up getting a scholarship from the Bridge Program. Um, as a high school student, I did the Bridge Program at Wheaton College, which is a college readiness program for minorities. And I did that program, and from that program, I gained a four year full tuition scholarship to Wheaton College, which is great.

And I attended as the first child of three, and it was great. It was a great experience, and I was so happy. So, I am currently in my last semester, um, this fall, and I graduate in December, and I’m so excited for that. 

So definitely a lot of doors have been opened for me to connect with more people and to connect with more Christians my age, which has been such a blessing 

 And then I’m also the president of the gospel choir at my school and that has definitely been a blessing as well. So, so many opportunities to grow in leadership and to lead people and to grow in my Christianity as well has definitely been happening in these past few years and it’s definitely been great.

Ryan Henry: Wow. That’s so amazing. I’m gonna start calling you President Overcomer Ty.

Tytiyana Jones:  That’s a lot of titles.

Ryan Henry: It’s a lot. Keep running hard, because God’s definitely got such an amazing call on your life. This is a great story. Thank you so much for being on our show, 

Tytiyana Jones: Thanks for having me. It’s been great.

Ryan Henry: We are excited to share the show with the world.

Tytiyana Jones: I’m excited. Yay!

Ryan Henry: Yay, God! 

 One more thing. Ty, would you, pray for anyone who is in your place? like self harm, depression. Would you pray for them? 

Tytiyana Jones: I definitely will. 

Tytiyana Jones: Um, Dear God, we come to you humbly as your children to pray for those who are struggling. Um, we pray for those who are struggling with their mental health, Lord, and with self harm, Lord. We pray that you just let them know that you are a protector and their refuge, Lord, and that you created their bodies, Lord, beautiful, and That they are your child and they are always loved, Lord, and they can come to you with any problems that they have.

Um, Lord, we pray against the devil, Lord, who is trying to take control of their minds. Lord, we know that you beat him in every situation, Lord, so we just pray that people who are in pain, Lord, just come to you in prayer. And let them know that they are surrounded by love, and they are not alone in these situations.

We thank you for who you are, and we thank you for sending your son to die for our sins. And we love you. It’s in your name we pray. Amen. 

Ryan Henry: Thank you so much. 

Tytiyana Jones: Thanks. 

Margaret Ereneta: Thanks for listening today. Ty will soon graduate from Wheaton College. If you want to encourage her message her on Instagram at queen dot Ty 20. For our Sendoff the Wheaton College Gospel Choir did this special thank you for Ty, please enjoy.

Wheaton College Gospel Choir: Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, yes he is good. Oh, give thanks, oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, yes he is good. He’s worthy, for he is worthy. Worthy, For He is good, Yes, He is good, For He is Worthy Worthy For He is good yes, He is good for he is good Yes, He is good For He is Good Yes, he is good.

Wheaton College Gospel Choir: Woo. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank. From our hearts, dear Ty, thank you! We love you Ty!