My name is Brittany and I’m a fighter.
Most 5 year olds dream of going to Disney or becoming a teacher, I dreamed of being free from the man that visited my room each night after I went to bed. I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional situation. My parents were both drug addicts and my father was murdered when I was 4 years old. As if the odds weren’t already against me, I began to be molested off and on from the age of 5-15 years old by different men. Due to the unhealthy environment I grew up in and those I grew up around the biggest dreams I had were just to make it out.
In the midst of all the abuse, we moved a few times until we found a house we ended up living in for several years. Our new home was right across the street from a church that was very outreach-oriented, right in the middle of the inner-city. One Saturday morning a group of church members came to the neighborhood as a part of a ministry called “Adopt-A-Block”. They would clean the trash from the streets and yards. My street was assigned to the associate pastor of the church. I remember seeing him clean my yard and asking him what he was doing. He told me about the ministry and told me about an after-school program the church did Mon-Fri, inviting me to come check it out. I started attending, and during my 4th grade year, that pastor led me to the Lord in the hallway of the church during the program.
I started attending the church pretty regularly, though I had no clue what it meant to be a Christian or how I was supposed to live. All I knew was that church was safer than home, so I was there whenever the doors were open. Though I had never been good at making friends, I had about 4 good, core friends that I made at the church. As I entered middle school, one of those friends, Chris, started to be vocal about having feelings for me. Chris knew very little about the nightmare I was experiencing at home, and I didn’t want to tell him then. He asked me out several times but I always said no. He continued to pursue me anyway, even after the rejection, which was very unfamiliar to me.
Things continued to be very difficult at home; due to her addiction, my mom found herself in jail on multiple occasions, including my 13th birthday. At age 12, I committed to pray for my mother’s salvation every day. During my 7th grade year, I began to just really go hard after God. I had entered youth group and really started growing and maturing as a Christian. I learned what it meant to surrender everything to God, even my pain. I committed myself to serving God in spite of my family situation and what I was going through emotionally. This was the hardest decision I had ever made, but I was convinced that if God was going to change my situation, I had to be fully believing and living for Him.
At the end of the school year my youth pastor’s wife had a purity Bible study for the girls; I did not feel pure at all, but I joined. My feelings had changed; I REALLY liked Chris and wanted to date him, but I made a commitment to wait until I was 18 to have a boyfriend. I told him about the decision I made. He said, “I will wait with you.” Of course I was shocked. He bought me a ring and promised to wait for me as long as he had to. I was not used to this type of treatment by guys. Most men only wanted something from me sexually– Chris was just content being near me.
When I turned 15, I had had enough. I was sick of going to church and coming home to a nightmare. My mom was evicted, and I moved in with the pastor and his wife, then with my grandmother, and finally with my best friend. Though I wasn’t sure where I would ultimately be living, God always came through for me. My mentor and family, who were also worship pastors, adopted me on September 22, 2002. I remember feeling very nervous and afraid, but excited to be a part of a real family. I’m not sure they knew what they were getting into at the time, but the Lord knew what I needed. Emotionally, I was so damaged. I was struggling with an eating disorder and identity issues, weighing only 95lbs as a freshman in high school. I felt I had to control something, so I controlled my food.. My parents just prayed and were as patient as they could be. They committed themselves to my healing.
In May of 2004 my adopted family moved to Miami to be worship pastors. I had never been out of the Chicago area so I was excited, but sad to leave my home, and sad to leave Chris just when we were about to turn 18. He took me out the night before we left and treated me like a queen. We moved to Miami, and on July 12th, 2004, my dad told me devastating news, “Brittany, Chris Jr. drowned a few hours ago.” Though Chris was a good swimmer, he had gone under the ocean water three times, and was not able to be revived. He died 2 days before his 18th birthday. I had never loved the way I loved him, and I had never been loved by a man they way he loved me. This was a GREAT loss for me. I spent several months grieving the loss of not only someone I was courting, but a best friend.
Again my adopted mom committed herself to my healing, stayed up with me almost every night for 3 months just crying together and sharing memories. Though the healing process was slow, God began to restore me and reveal His faithfulness to me. Months later, my adopted parents encouraged me to talk to a boy, Travis, they had been keeping an eye on for quite some time. In fact, my dad called my youth pastor to get this boy’s phone number and sent me to my room to call him. We had our first date on Oct. 15, 2004 and Travis and I were married on July 25, 2009. I never thought I would see the other side of all of the pain I experienced, but I trusted that God would remain faithful to me and He did.
I am now married to a fantastic man who loves God and loves me, and we have 2 beautiful girls who never fail to take our breath away. I also have had the amazing privilege of watching the prayers for my biological mom come to life in such a beautiful way. God has done a tremendous work in my life and I have been given the opportunity and responsibility to share this light and Hope with others. My husband and I are currently youth pastors in Richmond, Virginia, and I started and lead a ministry called “Beautiful Girls.” The purpose of Beautiful Girls is to expose the lies of our culture about what beauty and identity should look like, and to encourage and help young women to find their worth in Christ alone. I also have the amazing privilege of traveling part time with Byron “Mr.Talkbox” Chambers of Toby Macs Diversity Band as a back-up dancer.
Freedom and Fighting allowed me to dream again. I love being a part of the work of God and I pray and DREAM that someday I can share my story with young girls:)