From Savior to Lord: My Testimony

Lies Young Women Believe Testimony

Sorry this is so long, but there are so many things that play into this initial part of my journey with God that I have to include and I hope it makes sense! Though both of my parents were raised in homes where God and faith were involved, they both accepted Christ when I was a small child, maybe 5 years old. I remember singing Jesus Loves Me, the B-I-B-L-E, Jesus Loves the Little Children, and one of my particular favorites – I am a “C”, I am a “C-H”, I am a “C-H R-I-S-T-I-A-N”. I grew up in a church for as long as I can remember, and I took things seriously. I mean, every time there was an alter call, my parents had to watch and make sure I didn’t run down the aisle because “the preacher said that if I said that prayer to come down the aisle now”. I had a longing to commit something to Jesus, and I wanted to go to heaven. So finally, after a few years with multiple attempts, my parents brought me to see our pastor where he asked me questions to determine if I fully understood what it was to accept Christ. As if I remember my eyes rolling, I answered him politely (as you would expect nothing less in the South) but with a silent “Duh!” on the end. I had learned all the Sunday school answers…why was everybody hesitant because I was young?

Looking back I laugh at how I thought I even remotely understood God, but nevertheless I guess I did have an exuberant child-like faith. But the truth is, Jesus was my Savior, but I had no idea how to take the Sunday school answers I was learning and actually surrender my will to experience God as my LORD. So this went on…for years. I was involved on Sundays, in the youth some, etc. But I generally did what I wanted as long as I wouldn’t get in trouble for it.

I became more involved with my dance company over time, so time at church and with other friends was very restricted (not that I think this would have helped a ton? Kids are just imperfect & sometimes just as unkind there too. But maybe the truth would have sunk in sooner…who knows.). By the time I was in middle school, I was disengaged with the cliques in our youth groups, but I was accepted as a company member and was spending 20-30 hours a week training intensely for what I wanted most – perfection.

Ballet years

But during my 8th grade year and freshman year in high school, I remember a few comments that shocked me and hurt my confidence in a way I never saw coming. Comments and jokes about being pale, having braces and major dental work, and legs with more muscle than 85% of our male classmates left me desperate to fix what I could about myself and hate what I couldn’t. Then, with the dance company that I was working my butt off to rise the ranks amongst, we were brought in for an evaluation. Some of the things I would be rated on were my strength, technique, and body (there were more, but this is all I remember). I quickly ignored all the other perfect 6 scores and high-ranking 5 scores when they directed my attention to the score of a “4” on my body. I wished it could have been ANYTHING else. I could work on strength or technique, but what more could I do to make my body fit the body type they wanted? I was, as my grandfather once put it, built like a “plow horse” and not a quarter horse. It was frustrating and heart breaking to realize I had poured so much of my heart and soul into something that seemed to have a mold that I wouldn’t be able to force myself into. Already a little burned out from our crazy hours and summer-long intensives, this was to me the straw that broke the camels back. I declared I was ready for time to “do more of what I wanted,” and without knowing it, I was determined to look for affirmation that I was beautiful to anybody and everybody who would help me forget what I had begun to hate about my body. I mean, my parents told me I was beautiful…my Dad taught me the Serenity prayer and he and Momma relentlessly encouraged me that I was valuable…but they had to – I mean they are my parents.

Thus led to being more tanning-obsessed, body-image conscious, boy-crazy than ever. Soon enough, I had my first real boyfriend. I so so so want to just glaze over this part. Haha.  It taints my high school memories for sure. But I will highlight a few things I see looking back over my sophomore, junior and beginning of my senior year. I took every insecurity about my figure, my calves, and my skin color and I threw my need to feel valuable and my affirmation-deficit onto my boyfriend. The only problems were that he wasn’t exactly upstanding and that I was placing my needs onto a guy rather than dealing with them, and I began to try and make him the perfect man – because I needed a perfect man to always affirm (dare I say “worship”?) me and to never let me down with his actions and choices (idolizing the idea of a perfect relationship). After multiple inevitable disappointments and unhealthy choices, I was a paranoid, insecure, untrusting, hot mess of emotions. But I still wanted to marry this guy. I mean, it was the only security I could think of, and I didn’t want anything to get in the way of the relationship – it was my idol the most important thing in my life (same difference I guess). Though I have no memory of this, that summer my mom introduced my boyfriend and I to the current president of the College ministry she worked at, and told me later that night “Brittany, if I could hand-pick the man God would have you marry – it would be this boy.” (God was working – more on that later.)

One night I went to my boyfriend’s house for dinner. We didn’t argue or anything, but when I left I had this overwhelming feeling like “This is it? This is what you want forever?” out of nowhere. On the way home, I began sobbing, and I had no idea why. I sat in my truck in my parents’ driveway (as I often did when crying about boyfriend issues since they were not keen on the relationship and, frankly, I didn’t want that lecture) and I poured out a prayer that was about what my heart needed more than what I thought I wanted for the first time. I remember praying “God, if this is not the relationship you want for me, YOU are going to have to end it. Because I am not going to do it.” After praying that, a peace came over me and I was able to pull myself together and go inside. And forget it.

THE VERY NEXT DAY, my boyfriend walked right up to me and broke up with me. Not kidding. Totally forgetting about my prayer the day before, I fell apart. I was taken by surprise and wondering why he wanted to break up – you know – paranoia, doubt, and insecurity kicked in making a really nice batch of crazy. I also realized I really really did not want to be the girl who got dumped (major hit on my security), I dreaded that everyone might find out (me being the last to know) that it was because he liked some one else or cheated behind my back making me look like a fool…and more than that, I did not know how to deal with all my insecurities with no one to make me feel secure and loved.

I was a hot mess. Actually, not even hot. I was an ugly mess. I acted crazy. My pour cousin Ashley got to witness me at one of the lowest moments in my life so far. I remember crying and over and over again asking her and my Mom – “What am I supposed to do now?”

This week changed my life. One night a few nights after, I woke my Mom up because I couldn’t sleep and I was hurting. As we talked, I remembered that prayer in my truck and I told her. She told me, “Wow Brittany. Can’t you see that God has been waiting all this time for you to let Him show you what He wants? Look how quickly He answered you. I think He is stripping away everything you have held higher in your heart that Him. He can heal your heart and He wants you to learn that He is all you need.” This was a huge a-ha moment for me. This was the first time I saw God directly intervene and answer my prayer. ALL of the doubts I had had about my faith were dim compared to the undeniable coincidental sequence of events that I was absolutely sure was God working. I went from wishing my ex would take me back (I mean really, I had no dignity) to being mad – mad that I was even sad about it, mad that he had been a scoundrel, and mad that if I hadn’t become mad I would have gone back with him the next week or weeks after when he decided he would like me back.

At the end of that same week, my Mom suggested I check out the BCM Crash (like a college worship and message night) on UWF’s campus since I was dual enrolled as a student there.   The group of students I would soon become a part of had an authentic, contagious excitement for what God was doing in their lives, and I had just had a taste of it – and wanted more. Though supposedly I had been introduced to him when I was in my previous relationship, this was the night I actually officially met Bryan (the man my Momma “hand-picked” and my now husband of almost 8 years). Praise God for working with my sassy scarred self because I remember him meeting and thinking he was attractive, but I immediately thought, “He’s ridiculously good looking. He is probably a jerk – just like all of them.” And though you know how the story played out with him and that he proved my jerk assumption wrong, this allowed me to become more focused on what God was teaching me than getting sidetracked with any guy. I had tried life my way, and was absolutely sure I wanted to try to do things God’s way from now on.

That year quickly became a growth spurt for my faith and it was crazy and I am so thankful for all I learned and saw happening in my heart and my life. About 2-3 months later, Bryan told me he was “interested in getting to know me better”. While I still had a bit of boy crazy tendencies in me (I mean, I still had crushes – I was 17 lol) and while I did like him a lot, I had become so thankful for what God was teaching me that I knew it would be best to not get distracted with a boy for at least a while…so by a miracle in my opinion – I looked this guy I admired and liked a ton right in the eye at my parents’ kitchen table and told him I was not interested in having a boyfriend at the time. ((:-0 For real.

So I won’t bore you with details of my love story…but I will say that sometimes God breaks a heart to rebuild it the proper way. And He is so excited when we allow Him to be our LORD and to show us what He is capable of being and doing in our lives when we stop trying do things our own way. In my case, He used my struggle with doing life my way to teach me that He is real, that He is trustworthy, that He knows how to provide for me far better than what I thought I could provide for myself, and that He has to be the priority in our heart for everything to fall into proper place. This is the point at which I began to comprehend what Trusting God with my life could mean for me. But there was still much my heart that needed to learn….and the next bunch of years would begin to open my eyes to just a hint of how free life with Christ can be. But this is a testimony of how my journey of pursuing a trust-based relationship with God started for me. It is silly and filled with high school drama, but hey – whatever it takes for God to get my attention – I am ok with sharing! :) I can’t wait to share so many beautiful truths I have discovered that all started with this very first surrender. Stay tuned! :)

 

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