Monday, June 20, 2016

God gave me a testimony...and yes this will be a long post.

I have no idea where to begin with any of this. I've prayed hard about how to open my life up to those around me. I'm not the 15 year old high school student who followed what everyone told me anymore. I'm not where I saw myself, I'm not where I thought I would be, but my life is where it is and I'm going to allow God to use me and my story. He gave it to me. He's allowed me to live and to see, so the least I can do is give Him the glory.

I am imperfect.

But, aren't we all?

I guess the difference between some people is the ability to admit imperfection.

I struggle.

Again, it takes admittance.

I have been torn to pieces by life's emotions. I have been brought down to my knees and I have been knocked down to nothing. For 5 years I was laying in my own dirt and turmoil. I chose to run. It reminds me of the story of the garden where Adam tries to hide from God.
I tried to hide.
Or maybe I didn't? Maybe...I just spit straight in God's face, and said "this is your fault, not mine".
Yea...that's a better way of putting it.

I grew up with religion all around me. Yes...religion. There is a difference between religion and walking with God. Religion is what is making the world hate Christians. Walking with God means admitting to imperfections, understanding there is sin in the world, and being able to gently be a voice of wisdom and truth in a world full of sin and disgrace. I think a lot of people do not see this.

I was raised in church by two of the Godliest people I have ever known. My Grandmother was this beautiful woman who God blessed me with in my life. She was the image of pure joy in my life. She took me to church every Sunday, got me involved with GA's, and eventually in the youth group. She was my rock. When all else around me seemed to fall...she was the one who guided me home. My Granddaddy, in my life, was the silent-gentle giant. He never really spoke harshly to me, never raised his voice, and just sat and listened most days. I of course heard other versions of him from other people in my life--but I was and am his granddaughter. It was different for us.

I went to church on a regular basis. As a child I wholeheartedly believed in what I was being taught. As I grew older, however, my worldly wisdom started to rear it's big ugly head.  I am, and have always been, a person of logic and science. From the time I started learning, the idea of God became difficult to me. I still went to church, I still listened, I still experienced the presence of something bigger than me...but I was struggling.
There was one moment in all of my teenage life that God PHYSICALLY showed Himself to me in a way I never thought possible. I chose at the age of 16 to board a plane to California, with nothing holding me back. I went with the North American Mission Board as a Sojourner to Hesperia, California for 6 weeks to work as a volunteer youth leader. It got me away from my comfort zone, from everything I knew, and gave me the opportunity to be independent for a little while. In that 6 weeks we worked a lot of children's camps. We also worked with a lot of the area children who spoke only Spanish. At one specific children's camp I worked with a 5 year old little boy named Cesar who spoke Spanish and had a lisp.In my head I was thinking "what the crap am I supposed to do with this kid, I speak very little Spanish, and this kid has a lisp!"...so then and there I prayed a very simple prayer. "God...if you are real...if you want me to tell this child about you...you will reveal yourself right here, right now. You will open my ears to this little boy and you will break down all language barriers."...I didn't think He would. But He did. O He did. He opened my ears and my heart and Cesar spoke and I heard him and understood him. Plain as day I understood his little 5 year old Spanish. I spoke to him, and we understood each other, and I was able to tell Cesar about Dios.

With that miraculous God moment, one would believe I would never doubt my faith.
But I did.
Or maybe I was just rebellious?

I was already doing things I knew were wrong...it wasn't about a belief in God, it was about living MY life.
Of course, our lives aren't ours, are they?

I went away to college with the intention of ALL LIBERAL ARTS. I wanted to study English. I wanted to minor in Spanish...and I wanted to leave the country. Adios America!
I was wrong once again.

In fact...10 years after starting college I still haven't left the country. What the what?

I started at ECU in 2006 and I joined Campus Christian Fellowship where I attempted to grow in God's word.
I went on several mission trips with them...to Globe, Arizona as well as to Washington, DC.
As much as the Arizona trip always touched my life in an amazing way, the DC trip showed me the reality of what's closer to home and how we are living in a world where we are ignoring the lost and ignoring the hungry.
Not okay.
I also worked with a ministry called Summershine, which despite my experience the 2nd year, was an amazing opportunity to be in the work force while showing the love of Christ. I simply allowed my anxiety and depression to REALLY get in the way, and as much as I spent a lot of time resenting the ministry for some things, in reality I wasn't allowing myself to be used to my fullest potential because I was allowing myself to be taken over by the claws of the devil.

Fast forward to the year of the DC trip. 2011. My life slowly began a down hill spiral.
We got back from DC and I started working at a grocery store in town to try to have enough money to live for the summer. During that time period I started to let go of my faith. I made friends with some people who weren't the best influence on my life, but they were more fun.
I lived 5 years without living out my crazy college years...at this point I was 22, almost 23, and should have been maturing, but instead I gave myself freedom to do whatever I wanted. I still had another year of college, and hopefully graduate school, so the reality of the working world just didn't make much sense to me yet.
When I say downward spiral I mean DOWNWARD SPIRAL.
My promiscuity went on the rise...my drinking went on the rise....and my church girl persona was put on the back burner.
I stopped going to CCF as much.
I stopped going to church.
I stopped going home to visit.
I was living my life.

Then...in July of 2011 the greatest person in my life suddenly passed away. When she died I was crushed. I felt like my heart exploded out of my chest, my anxiety became HUGE, and I didn't know what to do. Initially when she passed away I was in a religious fog. Yes...religious. The people who came to her funeral were a huge influence on my life as a teenager and so what felt right to say was "she's in a better place, she's not in pain anymore" when someone asked me how I was doing. That wasn't answering their question, but it appeased them. In reality, I was not okay. The first week after her death I spent my days laying under the covers, ignoring the world...and at night I screamed and cried in my sleep and woke up in cold sweats and unable to breathe.
It was NOT a good time.

Slowly I started drinking more heavily. I enjoyed it. It loosened me up and it made me feel better. I started having sex with whoever offered it...and I was a shell of my former self.

I ran...for 5 years.
The first year, I mostly said there's a God--but He doesn't care about me. He doesn't love me. If He did all that had happened in my life would not have happened.
I wouldn't have been in so much pain.
It was truly a selfish concept.

But then after that it wasn't that there was a God...it was...there's probably a higher power, but why should I care? I'm going to hell anyways.

That was my thought process for the longest time.

Let's rewind a little.

Let's tell you a little more about me..as a person...not as a God follower (or lack there of).

As a child I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and OCD.
That's a lot to label a child with, I'm aware, but it was accurate.
I wasn't medicated for any of it until high school.

I saw our school psychologist, I saw a therapist, I saw a psychiatrist, but it was all just to put me in a place where I couldn't be put somewhere else.

I was a cutter for a very long time. I started when I was 14 and I didn't stop until I was 23. It wasn't for attention...it was because I hurt so much and I struggled to put forth any kind of ability to communicate that It just seemed right.
There were moments of trying to take my life.
But those moments are in the past...they again weren't for attention so if you're reading this and you believe I'm someone out for attention, you may stop reading, or you may read and keep your opinion to yourself. I've heard it all.

I also threw myself into promiscuous opportunities because I was burying my feelings in men. Not for love....just for fun...just to cover my pain in a different way.

I don't consider myself someone who was a slut--so please--again--keep that opinion elsewhere too. We're all entitled to an opinion, but we don't have to share it all the time.

Because of the promiscuity which usually was led on by drunkeness...there were moments of irresponsibility...

Let's fast forward to the present.

I moved back to my hometown last March after I was hired on to an amazing position at a spectacular middle school in February 2015. With moving back to my hometown...God opened doors to my heart that I didn't know were possible to be reopened.

He placed people in my life who gently tugged. Never forced. Never pushed.

Hinted.

Spoke of God in conversation but never forced.

In January of this year I had to move again, but this opportunity was exactly what I needed. I stayed at my school and moved literally a minute from my school.
This gave for more opportunity.
I fell in love with my house. I started opening my heart more. I started to become friends with someone who has now adopted me into her family...simply because of changes in my life that I actually was against.

We sometimes need drastic change to make us okay.

I was still living a life of sin, however...up until recently.

I met someone in January who was much younger than I am, who I personally thought would be good for me. He was cute. He was an English major. He was attractive...He was everything I wanted. Looking with the eyes turned to more drunkeness...turned to looking with the hands.
More promiscuity.

Except this moment didn't end for me as I saw it would.

I ended up with more than I bargained for.

In March, my life changed. I found out I was going to be a Mom. It looks really weird to type that here. I was with my friend who is now someone who I praise God for daily and I said I was going to go home and take a test because I was a few weeks late. There came the two pink lines.
I wasn't upset.
I was happy.
Then came the Dr. appointment confirming it.
Then came the progesterone therapy.
Then came feeling my sweet baby move.
Ultra sounds....hearing the heartbeat...seeing my baby move...picking out names...being excited.
Telling the guy didn't turn out as planned, but that was okay because this is where my story took a turn.

I wasn't doing it alone. This is where God really forced my hand. Prior to finding out any of this I had stepped foot into church for the first time in several years to revival at my friend's church.
And slowly my heart started to become softer and softer.
Slowly my life began to change.
Best friends started to not matter anymore.
Drinking didn't matter.
Having sex didn't matter.

When I found out I was going to be a Mom my world changed for the better. God grabbed me by the hand and took me back in.
Once I got past the feeling of shame and of guilt and of feeling like God would never forgive me...I began to truly feel like I belonged to God again. It took me five years of running to find a more amazing experience with my savior.
It's NOT religion anymore...it's a walk with God.
It's a relationship..
It's knowing that the God who created the universe would use me in ways I wasn't ready for yet.

I was okay.
I had this amazing realm of friends and family who God placed in my life and I was okay.
Despite other friends walking out of my life because I had found my way back to God...and because I had left them out of some things in my life...I was OKAY.

Once again my life took a turn. On May 16 I went to the Dr because things didn't seem right.
My progesterone levels were dropping. The baby's heart rate was dropping. I got a progesterone shot and was told to take it easy. We would handle this even if it meant bed rest at 17 weeks.
I went again on the 17th to have another progesterone shot and to check my blood pressure. My blood pressure was very high but baby's heart rate was still low. I was told to take it easy and come back Friday.
A month ago today my world took a drastic turn. My baby no longer had a heart beat. Nothing we did or could have done was going to change it. It just wasn't time.
I tried to do cytotec, but it didn't work, so on Monday the 23rd I had a D&C.

I could've let my world fall to pieces again. But God was there holding me up. My adopted family was holding me up. And I made it. I am making it.

I had tests run...and I finally came to this answer.

I have lupus.

As if losing a baby wasn't enough, as if having anxiety wasn't enough...as if being this complete and utter nut case--let's add in that my body attacks healthy cells and that I have to start eating different and taking more medicine and taking my temperature twice a day and do a whole lot better.
I'm okay with it.
I wasn't.
I have been called a hypochondriac my entire life.
I have been terrified of suffering my entire life.

But this amazing Godly woman God placed into my life, walks with me every night, and had a conversation about quality of life over quantity.
Would I rather take my plethora of medicine and eat better and have a better life, or would I rather add years and be miserable.

It's quality. I take quality.

My life's not over it's just beginning.

My Lindley Grace is being held by God.

She's an Angel.

More than likely I will struggle to have children of my own--but there are children here and all over who need a Mommy and Daddy to adopt them...so when the time comes...if I can't have kids. I will adopt. And that will be okay too.

Because my Lindley Grace saved me and brought me back to God. Just by knowing of her existence...I was brought back to my savior.

I have a long road ahead of me but my testimony is this...I was the prodigal. God had his arms open and waiting.

I could fall to pieces. I could have fallen to pieces. I could go back and drink. I could take pills. I could do a lot...but where will that put me.
I could be bitter.
But what good would ANY of that do for me?

God will use me for His glory He will use this story for Him.

I am His witness.

And I am here for a great purpose.

I am here to serve Him through anything placed in my life.
I am here to love on His people.
I am here to share my story so other's may come to know Him.
I am here to show that sickness doesn't stop me.
Taking my temperature and cutting most foods out of my life will not stop me.
Having flare ups won't stop me.
Being this LITERAL person with a logistical mind who has anxiety on a daily basis and falls into depression at times will not stop me.
Having Lupus cause my lungs to fight against me will not stop me.
The DEVIL will not stop me.

I. AM. HIS.

And he's making diamonds :)

2 comments:

  1. Love you Brittany. Always have, always will. Thankful for answers to several years of prayers! He has a plan for you and he's not going to let you go. Love you tons!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, wow, wow! God truly hangs on to us prodigals. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me that our God is a great big God. Only he can use all things for good and sometimes we must wait a long time to see the triumph over the suffering! Love you. Can't wait for that coffee!

    ReplyDelete