Its been a while.
Ive heard a lot of stories in my short time of life. Through my occupation and natural nature of being drawn to people; learning about each individual, needing and wanting to hear what makes them who they are; stopping to listen and take it all in. Stories that are beautiful, amazing, some surprising and even tragic. Their truth.
Lots of laughter has been shared, and tears have been shed. To say I’m in touch with my emotional side is an understatement- ask anyone who knows me. I have a desire to relate to people and be liked- most comes natural, but sometimes with a cost. I love to listen to these stories people share, but rarely do I share my own so openly. Fear is a nasty thing. Its amazing how we can make the world see us, put together and having it all. What could possibly go wrong?! Sure, you may catch glimpses here and there of the truth but the reality for most, is surviving in a world thats ready to eat you alive.
I think I’m so used to listening to others stories, that I get in my own head of what would people REALLY think of mine- and I halt. There’s that whole “desire to be likable” factor biting me in the butt!! But this is not shameful or something that I should be worried about sharing. Its simply put- a MIRACLE.
Something happened and everything changed. Something I wasn’t expecting, nor could ever have anticipated; the beauty of what could really be my life. I was willing and God answered….. And so my story began of anew.
6.5 years ago my life changed. Those who have met me in the last 6.5 years wouldn’t think another thing of it. But those who knew me before, those closest to me- it was a little shocking to say the least. I was in a dark place, a dead end going no where fast- and most wouldn’t have guessed it. And those who did, didn’t want to admit the extent of it. I was “living life” to the best I knew- and the best at that time was a lot of drinking, smoking, partying and of course working. The extent of stories I have, the things Ive partaken in, the shame I once had hovering over me- I literally have no clue how I am alive- EXCEPT for God keeping me. There is simply, no other explanation.
Those who have met me since my life changed, know I don’t drink or partake in certain things. Some know why, others don’t; some assume. For the most part I am still me- A HUGE personality, love to laugh, a goofy- full of expression social butterfly! But to those who knew me before, there was uncertainty. What happened to Brittany? Who is this person? This is only a phase, it wont last long etc. Ive had to fight for my new found life and why its a good change- even if its not understood- But Im still me! Ive lost some friendships along the way- but thankfully after some time, most still accept me with open arms. As I’ve gotten older I realize, those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.
I was living the (lonely) single life, same thing (mostly) every day. Get up, work, go out for drinks and socialize, carry it on home and hang out with the neighbors on the back step until the wee hours of night; before crashing, getting up and doing it all over again. Exhausting to say the least and definitely not fulfilling. Lucky for me I’ve always had a strong conscious, sometimes it just takes me a while to really hear it. Two weeks before I met my husband I started praying. Just talking to God (yes, some while being intoxicated) But aware that there had to be something better than what I was doing and living. My sister Jessica was an inspiration to me, she was married to a man who loved God, had standards and morals to measure life by and was involved with their Church, as well as wanting to raise their kids in the likeness of Christ.
I saw what she had. The potential in living something so beautiful. I wanted that. So I started talking to God. I wanted a man who loved Him; more than life itself, to be a family man- someone who could communicate and was a real partner in life. Who could see the beauty in my flaws and not want to give up on me, but encourage me and help me to grow. The only issue was, that I wasn’t even sure quite how to love myself, so how in the world was I going to love someone else? Thats the beauty of God. His grace and willingness to pick us up when we fall, in our darkest days. The two weeks leading up to me meeting Paul, God started to show me things- not necessarily in ways I understood right then, or that I liked; but non the less, He was preparing me. I was trying my best to listen. You see, God is ALWAYS willing BUT we have to listen, align and agree. It is in His time, however we as people always have choices to make. We can drastically prolong or come into agreement with what He has to offer us based on our choices. Either way, He will always honor our choice- even if, it is not what He would choose for us. Ever hear of someone always having to learn the hard way? Yea, thats me- raising my hand right over here!!
The night I met my husband on 11/12/11, after our first date I knew after coming home that he was the one. This had to be what everyone was talking about when they said they “knew”. He took me to the Dakota jazz club downtown- he not only prayed for our meal (IN PUBLIC) but we sat through BOTH shows talking for roughly 5/6 hours straight: Who we were, what we did, things we loved, our goals and even God. Do you know how hard that is to come by that in this day and age of technology??!!! It was like I knew him for years and that he had always been a part of my life. His desire for God and his own story was so intriguing and inspiring, I was left wanting more and I knew I did not want to mess this up.
But my own desires took over. Still living the same as before, drinks after work, hanging out until late etc. I tried the whole summer/fall before to quit smoking/drinking on my own and I couldn’t do it! I would maybe get through a day or two- three tops, but if we went out after work or I met the neighbors outside, guess what paired well with that drink- a cigarette…. and not just one.
The whole week after I met Paul, I started to get physically sick, even if I just had two drinks- and that was nothing compared to what my tolerance was. I rarely had a hangover- especially to this extreme. I felt like death. (Paul didn’t know that I drank or smoked- like I said I didn’t want to mess this up!) That whole week before my life changed and after I met Paul, I remember multiple times waking up in the morning and thinking “Please God if you take this feeling away I will NEVER drink or smoke again”…. Until after work of course. The night my life changed, that morning I was hung over, the night before was the usual and after work, you guessed it- shenanigans commenced. Except this night, instead of going outside to socialize I stayed inside and talked out loud- to God. While drinking….SMH….. there was a lot to be said….and I was having the best heart to heart, the only way I knew how. And imagine what happened next? You got it!!! SO SICK…..Like I never had been before!! It’s literally as if God said “Alright I’m hearing you, but you’re not quite getting it- now here’s a kick in the butt.”
I distinctly remember crying out to God and saying I need your help. I can’t do this on my own. PLEASE, PLEASE help me- I don’t want to smoke, or drink or feel like crap and non productive ANYMORE. I don’t want to mess things up with this amazing man you’ve put before me. I WANT MORE. A better life, a better way. To be as happy on the inside as I portray on the outside. To feel whole and well and ALIVE- to have meaning and purpose. To be apart of something bigger than life itself.
I had a desire to want a different life, I simply did not have the way. Until I cried out to God and He said here I AM, let me show you! There were A LOT of tears that night while I sat by myself- just me and God.
The next day, I didn’t have a hangover. I didn’t crave a cigarette. I didn’t want to drink. The day after that, it was the same. And again, the day after that. Every day since that night 6.5 years ago God met me, my life has been what I could only have ever hoped for or dreamed of. God has given me the life I once thought I was never worthy of. An amazing husband, beautiful healthy children, an awesome successful business and most importantly a relationship with Him.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have hardships or obstacles, but it does mean I have God and He conquered all things on the Cross, before I ever had to face them; and with Him ALL things are possible. Ive experienced it first hand- He took something off of me then and He continues to work miracles in my life. Just like our personal relationships, I have to work everyday at my relationship with God- by praying, reading, sharing etc. Constantly learning, growing and working to change where I need to. I don’t sit and judge others because they choose to drink or smoke or whatever else, etc. I just know my own truth, what I experienced, and the ugly that He not only took me out of, but is willing to also do for others. He accepted me broken, embraced me and gave me a new way. To say Im beyond thankful for it (insert tears), is a vast understatement.
Im tired of being worried what others “might” think of me and my story. Its mostly in my own head; it’s quite amazing what the brain is capable of coming up with. He’s growing me- everyday. In boldness, in love, in patience, kindness, understanding, gentleness etc. I am willing and bit by bit He is transforming me. Im breaking free from my own mind. Im excited and want to share what God has done for me in my life because no one else could, not even myself. 6.5 years ago, my story of victory began. My truth, His truth.
He set me FREE. He gives me Joy in Chaos and I will choose Him over and over again.
What big event in your life has shaped you or changed you? What made you and continues to make you into the person you are today?