She used to be “mired in grave sins.” Then, an illness and the death of a loved one led her to God.
Klaudia Tołłoczko used to be a model whose self-esteem depended on other people’s affirmation of her good looks. She was living a life “mired in grave sins.” Then, an illness and the death of a loved one led her to God. I spoke with her to learn about her path of conversion.
Katarzyna Szkarpetowska: Working as a model is a dream of many girls. You, Klaudia, started your career in the modeling industry quite early.
Klaudia Tolloczko: Yes, I started working in modeling at the age of 16 and made a living from it until I was 22. When I went to junior high school, my friends often told me that I was photogenic and that I should think about working as a model. I decided to give it a try. I took part in one photo shoot, then another. I began to receive a lot of commercial jobs, which paid well. At the age of less than 20, I had an account on Instagram that was followed by almost half a million people.
A few years ago you fell ill with a severe, extremely debilitating disease. Doctors were unable to help you.
I was diagnosed with systemic mycosis. The illness caused me to seek help from God. It wasn’t a conversion yet, but it was the first step toward building a relationship with the Lord. Reading the Scriptures, I learned about God’s perspective on human life. I then discovered the power of the Bible diet (based on unprocessed, mostly plant-based foods). I applied it to my own life and the Lord God began to heal me. Not immediately, but gradually, through fasting and prayer.
Today I know that if it hadn’t been a process, if God had healed me in an instant, I wouldn’t have been with him long. I would have continued to sin and perhaps lost my chance for salvation and eternal life.
Illness wasn’t the only suffering that brought me to God. Not long after I became ill, my uncle, Paul, who was like a brother to me, died. We were separated by only a slight age difference. He was a young, healthy man, never ill with anything. He simply fell asleep and didn’t wake up again; he suffered cardiac arrest. His death shook me.
What did you feel when you stood over your uncle’s coffin?
My whole life passed before my eyes at that moment. I was reminded of the words from Scripture: “You do not know the day or the hour.” At that time, although I was trying to get to know the Lord God, my life did not resemble the life of a converted Christian. I took shortcuts at the time, and was mired in grave sins.
I remember that after the death of my uncle Paul, I knelt down and cried out: “Holy Spirit, come, I need You in my life. Without Your help I won’t be able to rise from my falls.”
Did He come?
Yes, He came and changed my life by a hundred and eighty degrees. I decided to make a general confession. On a few sheets of paper, I wrote out the sins with which I had hurt God all those years. The Holy Spirit even reminded me of minor offenses from my childhood, such as taking a few coins from my grandmother’s wallet without her knowledge. This confession was such a good start! The beginning of a beautiful adventure with God.
As a photomodel you took part in, among other things, nude sessions; your photos appeared in men’s magazines. How do you look back on it today, after several years?
That’s behind me now. I used to feel undervalued. My self-esteem depended on how I looked, and on other people’s opinions about me. I needed confirmation that I was attractive, which is why the modeling world was so necessary for me. It fed my hunger to be accepted. Today I look at myself the way God looks at me, which is with love, acceptance.
You had a rich boyfriend with whom you lived in a luxury apartment and went on expensive vacations, and you earned a lot of money. Don’t you sometimes regret giving it all up?
No, because I found the Lord God, and that is the most important thing for me. God gives me everything I need. For three years I heard a voice in my heart saying, “Follow me.” I felt that it was Jesus inviting me to follow Him, but I didn’t know where to go. So I asked: “Lord Jesus, what do you mean? After all, I already left modeling. I separated from my boyfriend, with whom I was living in sin. I’ve already discerned that I’m not called to religious life. What do you want, Lord?”
The answer came recently, during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The Lord Jesus clearly showed me that my vocation is evangelization. He wants me to speak about Him to other people, believers and non-believers, the homeless and prostitutes, in churches, orphanages, correctional facilities and prisons. Whatever I do, I want to do for His glory.