Five years ago, on Thursday, December 22, 2011—my eighteenth birthday—my life changed forever. When I went to bed that night, I started crying for one reason or another. I was super stressed for several reasons, but it boiled down to me deciding to write a letter to my future boyfriend after writing about why I wanted one. What I wrote doesn’t really matter though, because I didn’t finish it. Instead, I turned my sheet of paper over and started writing what I call a prayer contract. I poured my heart out to God and vowed to Him that I would stop worrying and “simply worry about being the best, most beautiful and most Godly me, Brittany Alexandria Willis, I can possibly be.” I wrote that at 1:06 a.m. on the 23rd (because it took me a few hours to gather my thoughts and stop crying) that’s why I’ve purposely posted this at 1:06 a.m. on the 23rd of December five years later. I proceeded to write a P.S. “Dear Lord, please fill me with love for myself, You and others, joy in the fact that I am single, peace with my single status, kindness to everyone around me, goodness so that I may succeed in the above goals, faithfulness so that I will remember everything happens in your timing, gentleness so that I won’t be snippy with my non single friends, self-control so I can accomplish these goals, and wisdom to make the right choices in every area of my life!”
Five years later, I’m still single (and that’s something I’ll be discussing with God when I’m done writing this—seriously, I need to write a follow up prayer contract), but that’s really the only thing that is the same about me. I was in very bad and dangerous—like potentially life-threatening—place in my life when I wrote my original prayer contract that I share about here. I was depressed, full of self-hatred, and in desperate need of a large dose of “in your face” love and acceptance. I was a “cutter,” I was always angry, and I wasn’t sure if I or anyone else wanted me to be alive. Then, while I was writing a letter to the prince whom I thought would save me, God spoke to my heart and told me to write a letter to the King who already saved me. I went from hating myself to genuinely loving myself, from resenting my singleness to feeling joy and peace in this walk God has left me in, from angry, frustrated, and resentful toward everyone to being told by several people how much my kindness and love means to them, from self-harm to self-control, from hopeless to reliant on faith, and from selfish to being called wise by some of the older people around me.
It’s been five years though and I am by no means perfect. In fact, in a fleeting moment of weakness brought on by an all too familiar situation, I recently wished I had something to use to harm myself. It was brief, but it was there, and I don’t think the temptation every truly goes away. Not fully. In fact, I still have my bad days (and weeks, sometimes months) when I fear I may slip into old habits. Now, I don’t stress about school; I stress about work. I have moments when I worry about wanting a family, instead of just a boyfriend. Instead of stressing about whether my parents will divorce or work things out, I now sometimes feel resentment toward them and anger toward God (that’s okay, by the way. God can handle our anger. It’s how we handle it that’s important) because they did divorce and that makes me feel some kind of way after I spent so many years crying myself to sleep praying they would stop fighting and fall in love. All those struggles are posts for another time though, because I’m not really writing this to broadcast my insecurities.
I’m writing this so that I can read it again in five years and think about how far God will have brought me then too. I’m also writing this for you, because I know you have struggles and insecurities too; I imagine that’s why you stumbled upon a blog called “D.A.R.E to HOPE” and decided to check it out.
You’re feeling hopeless, or at least you have in the past, and you want to see if you can find hope here. You can, I promise you can, but not necessarily from me. Though, I am here for you, whether you know me or not, and I will lend you a listening heart if you need someone. Even if you come to me for hope though, whatever you find through me, won’t be from me. It will be from God through me! I often find hope through writing, but (below what God reveals through His Word) the truest hope I know has been given to me by God through his daughters and my sisters in Christ. In my biological family, I am the oldest sister, but in the last four years, God has given me a big sister, Shelby Lilly, who has been a source of hope that I never thought I would ever have. Growing up, especially in high school, 98% of the time I didn’t believe in myself and I certainly didn’t love myself. In more ways than I have space to share, Shelby has taught me to believe in myself far more than I ever thought was possible. If it wasn’t for her, then I don’t know where I’d be right now. God might have led me to someone else who could have encouraged and inspired me, but I doubt they’d have done it as effortlessly and gracefully as Shelby does. Besides, if I hadn’t have met Shelby, then it would have been because I hadn’t have made a few other seemingly small moves in the right direction and my whole life really would be different. Other than Shelby, I have several other people who inspire and encourage me, primarily Allie and Holly (who, like Shelby, I’ve probably mentioned in nearly every post on this blog).
Anyway, the point is, I am here for you. I want you, whoever you are, to know that I am here. I’ve been in your position, or at least a very similar one, and it’s not a pretty place. Let me tell you here and now that you are not a burden and you are not a waste of space. The only pain you are to me (and I may not even know you) or anyone who knows you is the kind that we feel at the thought of you hating yourself, hurting yourself, or worse. Let me also tell you that you are not something I, or anyone who knows you, has to “deal with.” If we really felt that way, then we wouldn’t open our hearts to you and we wouldn’t ask you to open your heart to us. I started this blog for two people—me and you.
“You” is the lonely person on the other side of the computer screen reading my words. “You” is the girl who hates herself and wants to die. “You” is the girl stressed out about school papers, projects, finals, and graduation. “You” is the girl looking for a job, hating her job, and or not caring at all. “You” is the girl who feels like her dreams will never come true. “You” is the girl who hurts herself, doesn’t eat, overeats, works out too much, and or has tried to kill herself. “You” is the girl you think you are and the girl you really are. “You” is the teenage girl I used to be whom I wish I could say all this to right now. “You” is the girl who has read some or all of my other posts and relates to them. “You” is YOU! You are you and you are BE-YOU-TO-FULL, so Be You to the Fullest. That’s when you’ll be beautiful.
So, you, whoever you are and whoever you think you are. Let me tell you who you really are. You are beautiful. You are special. You are loved. You are enough. You are awesome. You are going to accomplish great things. You are going to be exactly who God wants you to be, because He knows what’s best for you and He will use your brokenness to help others. Heaven knows He’s used my brokenness to help others. I know of some of the people He’s used to me to help heal, but I doubt I know all of the people He’s worked through me for. All I know is that even if you don’t know it yet. You are healed. You are powerful. You are strong. You are brave. You are a Woman of Valor (my little sister by choice told me about that, so I’m borrowing it–hope that’s okay?).
Just in case you don’t know what valor is, it’s courage, bravery, fearlessness, boldness, and heroism. You may not feel courageous, brave, fearless, bold, or heroic right now, but trust me. YOU ARE. You’re here right now, aren’t you? You’re reading this post. You’re living and breathing. You’ve lived to fight another day, another hour, another minute, another second. Do you know why? God’s using you. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but He is. He is a timeless God, so even if you’re still struggling in this very moment, you are healed, powerful, strong, brave, and a woman of valor. You’re also being used by God. Someone, somewhere is looking up to you and thinking about how strong and happy you seem to be despite whatever obstacles may be in your way. In fact, I’m inspired by you right now. I may not know who you are, but I know I’m inspired by you, because you are still alive and you’re reading this, which means some part of you is fighting to win and I sincerely hope and pray that you will let that part of you take control and grab hold of God so that you can win!
I know it’s hard. Trust me. I know and I’ve got the scars to prove it. I’ve also got posts and messages to people I’m close with to prove it. It’s not impossible though. You will overcome. You have already. That’s why you’re here reading this now. Believe you are enough of whatever it is you think you’re not enough of and that will be half the battle won. If you think it’s been a long journey so far, take heart, there’s a longer journey ahead of you, but this journey is brighter. It’s no easier than the journey you’ve taken so far, but it sure is worth it! Please believe that! I don’t want to see a world without you, whoever you are, because every time someone dies, whatever the cause, the world gets a little darker. So please, shine bright and believe in yourself!