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Stories of Lives Liberated

Bridgette

Bridgette

Once a damaged, drifting girl in search of acceptance. Now a loved, fulfilled woman anchored to God.

Who I was before Christ

 

I’ve believed in God almost as long as I can remember, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve always been following him. I remember being 5 years old and loving Jesus and believing he died for my sins. My family went to church every week and my parents were Christians. As a teenager, I looked forward to church youth group meetings and summer Bible camp. My friends and I all shared the same core beliefs. A lot of positive foundations were there from the beginning.

Unfortunately, not all aspects of my life were as functional as they may have appeared from the outside. There were many painful dynamics and patterns within my family that lasted many years. I staggered to get through my teenage years without much support and with a very damaged self esteem. As an adult, I can now see how my mother was wounded herself from a difficult upbringing and how much of what happened was a result of her own suffering. Still, I felt angry and estranged, and by my late teenage years I had largely shut my own parents out.

When I left for college I felt an overwhelming relief to not be at home anymore. I was also searching for acceptance in a brand new environment. Early on, I connected with a Christian group on campus and made friends. However as time passed, I started to move into different social circles and slowly drifted away from what I had always believed. It wasn’t based on one single thing; I was just allowing myself to be influenced. Around this time, I lost a lot of weight and suddenly was receiving attention from boys for the first time in my life. Because of my low self-esteem, I was very susceptible in this area – I always thought that this would be the ultimate form of acceptance. In the end, I found myself making decisions that I deeply regret. By the end of my college years I wasn’t making any decisions with God in mind, but in the back of my mind I knew that Jesus loved me and wanted something different for my life. Though I was finally away from home, I was still unhappy, but now my own decisions were the cause.

 

What changed?

After college, I tried getting back on the right path. I started attending a church and lived with a close friend who was a Christian. I began to spend time with God once again and started wanting the things he wanted for me. One day I bumped into an old friend who invited me to another church called The Rock. I visited, and immediately felt welcomed and at home. I made friends, got connected and was finally surrounded by people who encouraged me to become serious about following God. It was so sweet and refreshing to draw near to him again. The acceptance I had so long been reaching for was right there.

 

Who I am now

In the nine years since, God has used The Rock to bless my life. I met my husband, had kids, and formed wonderful friendships. I’ve also been challenged on a number of fronts. I’ve been pushed to honor God with my marriage and my parenting. Even harder for me, my pastors have gently pressed me on my need to forgive my mom. This has not been easy for me and is something I continue to struggle with.

There is a verse in the Bible that describes well what I’ve experienced with Jesus over these years. In it, He explains to his disciples, “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.” (John 15: 9-11). I looked for love and acceptance in a lot of places; some were appropriate and some were not. But the one source of real joy, the one place I have been able to truly make myself at home, has been God and His love for me. Today my faith in God is more mature then it was when I was young. I don’t feel such a need for constant affirmation from other people because I can rest in my understanding of who God is and what Jesus said.

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