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“When I was younger,” Candia describes, “I felt like I was blamed for a lot of things. Any time there was an issue within the home or anytime somebody would say something, I would just think, well, maybe they're right. Maybe I'm not that smart. Maybe I won't ever amount to anything.”

Candia grew up believing the world was against her, even God. She shared, “I was never going to be what God wanted me to be, I couldn’t. I felt like He was always mad at me. Like He was always disappointed with me. I was always having to constantly go and repent, ‘Please forgive me, please forgive me.’”

And when she was molested by a family member at 12 years old, Candia blamed herself. She thought, “’Did I provoke that? What did I do? What was it about me that made that happen?’ I did not believe that I was worth love, but I wanted it so bad. I wanted somebody just to put their arms around me and hold on to me and not let me go. But that didn't happen. It's very hard. It is very lonely. And it feels like something that you'll never attain, something that you'll never have.”

Desperate, she married her first love at 18. But it was hardly the fairytale of her dreams. “Prince Charming,” she said, “wasn't so charming. He became violent – abuse and beatings and times that I had to call the police. I was so broken. In my mind, I loved him and that's what love was.

Then, Candia took a friend’s advice and became a stripper. Her first night on stage she was nervous, but not for long. “There were cheers, there was all kinds of nice comments,” she remembered. “They wanted me – can you imagine not just one person but multiple people, at one time?! I'm like, ‘Yeah, this is it. They like me.’ I kind of left that little girl thinking and feelings and heart behind, and just went full force into this.”  

Candia went from stripping, to full nude bars, and eventually porn. By the time she was 30, she was addicted to cocaine and traveling the world as a porn star and high-end escort. 

At the time, she was living in Vegas. “In sin city – penthouse suites, limousines, $5,000 bottles of champagne. I had clients that if I told you their names you would know who they were. They're athletes, they're actors, they're CEOs. I loved it. It was feeding my ego, filling that need to be successful, that need to be desired.”

Candia starred in over 80 porn films – at her peak, she married for a third time. He loved her, but he loved porn more. "He was addicted to porn,” she disclosed, “and the life that I was living. I was like his dream girl."

After 16 years in the industry, Candia realized she still didn’t have what she wanted. "I was at the top of everything,” she shared, “and I had everything I thought I wanted. But it wasn’t real. I'd done everything that there was to do in the movies. I had done everything there was to do in the clubs. I had done everything there was to do in escorting. There wasn't anything else. It just got to a point where I couldn't stand to look at myself in the mirror any more. I didn't like what I was becoming, and I don't know why. But it was as if everything I was doing just stopped filling the void. I felt like I was trapped, like I was hopeless. It was almost like I was feeling like I was when I was a child. I got down on my hands and knees before my husband and I said, 'Please.’ in tears — just wanting him to take me away from all this."

He refused. But something inside Candia wouldn’t let her give up hope. She described, "I just felt like on the inside like there was something more. It was almost like I heard a voice on the inside saying, 'I've got something more for you.' But I didn’t know what that was."

Candia left the industry and her husband when she discovered she was pregnant. Strung out with nowhere to go, she reached out to her two sisters who drove to Vegas to pick her up. By the time they arrived, Candia had miscarried. "'God, why?’ I thought that I was finally going to have somebody to love me. And I was devastated."

Candia flushed the last of her drugs and returned to Minnesota with her sisters. Still desperate, she accepted her sisters’ invitation to church. "There was nothing left but God,” she said. "I was so disappointed in myself. How could He be any more disappointed in me? I sat down, and I heard the songs. They talked about a God that I really didn't know. They talked about Him like He was right there in the room."

And it was at that moment she suddenly remembered the voice she’d heard months earlier. "'I've got something more for you,' she shared. "I went back to that. 'Really, could there be something more?' I had to take a chance. I said, 'I want to know You, I want to be different. If You say that there's something more for me, I want to know what that is. Show me.'”

That day, she finally realized that Jesus was the love she had always wanted. "I had levels of, 'I was so bad,' or 'I had done this so much,’” she said. "And I didn't realize that He didn't have levels. He just forgave me. And He has filled that void for me. He's the only one that has filled that void for me."

Candia, now happily married and a mother of four, shares her story to anyone in search of unconditional love. "There is a God, He does love you. He wants to have a personal relationship with you. You have to believe something – why not believe in Him?"

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