Brokenness. Healing. Confession. (Originally written on 7/19/2012)

On July 19, 2012, at 9:55PM, I shared the following in a Facebook message to my closest friends and family. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t talk more about Demi Lovato, but at the time, I was obsessed with BarlowGirl, so I felt more connected to them, which is odd, because these days, I feel more connected to Demi Lovato.


The Truth About Me (Brittany Willis’ Testimony, Story, and Open Confession)

Growing up, I was very insecure in who I was. I tripped over nothing, dropped everything, and was so scatterbrained you would not believe it. Normally my insecurities would only hit me in spurts and I would be able to push them away quickly, but in 2011, they were coming and coming hard. It felt like everything I did, I messed up and the insecurities soon turned into depression and self-hatred.

It started sometime between late 2010 and early 2011 when I realized that, had I been a junior like I was “supposed to be” rather than a sophomore, I would be graduating the next year. I hated that I was a year or two older than everyone in “my” grade, so I tried pushing myself to get caught up to where I was “supposed to be” in the self-paced curriculum my school did. Unfortunately, instead of accomplishing my goal, all I managed to do was stress myself out. I rushed my schoolwork, and at night when I attempted to do my homework, not understanding what I was doing, I would cry. I thought that because I was a year older than most people who did that work, I should be able to understand it. Boy was I wrong! I was never good at science or math, but that year I felt exceptionally terrible at it. Not only did I not understand what I was doing, I would also “oops” (which meant fail, but be allowed to do it all over again) many of the main tests, even though I only took them when I thought I understood what I was doing… I felt utterly and completely stupid for the second half of that school year and the first half of the following school year. At the end of my sophomore year, I took a science main test for the second time on the last day of school, and oops’d it for a second time, which meant I would have to come back to school and take the same test again. I spent the summer stressed out and feeling stupid because I just wanted to hurry and go back to school so I could take the darn test again. I went back to school and oops’d it yet again. Finally, taking the test again, I barely passed it.

Along with the stress of trying to push myself, came a bad attitude as well. At school and in public I would try my hardest to keep my attitude and stress hidden inside me, then when I would get home, it would just kind of boil over and I would yell and complain about everything. My mom would then correct me on my behavior and I would just yell and complain at her, causing a rift in our relationship. Eventually it came to a point when, if I was at home, my mom and I were most likely arguing and more times than not, it was my fault. I hated sharing my feelings with people, because it made me feel weak and vulnerable, so I would cry myself to sleep at night. Often after arguments with my mom, I would go to the bathroom or my bedroom and all my emotions about everything would come flooding out of my mind in the form of tears. In the privacy of the bathroom or my room, I would be thinking about and listing all the things I thought were wrong with me. In my mind, I was stupid, worthless, annoying, the cause for everything bad that happened, and I must have also been ugly—why else would I not have boys giving me their attention.

Eventually, probably around October-ish, my hatred toward myself took its toll and the “love” playlist that I had made to help me feel better wasn’t helping anymore, because I started thinking about the unthinkable. I thought about self-mutilation. I considered cutting myself. One day, I thought, “Hmm… it’s obviously stupid to cut myself… why don’t I just prick myself with a “safety” pin? That won’t leave marks, and no one will ever have to know.” So, I started pricking my fingers with safety pins until it hurt and bled. The physical pain took the mental and spiritual pain away for a while, then it would come back, and I would do it again. Another day, I was sitting in my bedroom floor crying and thinking thoughts of self-hatred. I picked the keys out of my bag and wondered if they would hurt me. With the Books-a-Million key card on my key ring, I started to rub the rounded edge along my leg (because if it left a mark, at least it would be less visible than my wrists), honestly not thinking it would hurt me. I was wrong; the rubbing started to cut through my skin and instead of stopping, I kept rubbing my leg. The pain really didn’t hurt as bad as the safety pins, but the stinging was more intense. I thought it was a better replacement for the mental pain than the prick, so I grabbed a safety pin and rubbed it along my leg in two other places. I felt a deep conviction that I needed to stop, so I did, but the damage had already been done. I now have three scars on my leg from that day. I continued to prick myself though, because it didn’t leave marks, so I thought, “It can’t be that bad.”

Later that year, I had started doing better in my schoolwork, so I stopped feeling bad about myself and stopped pricking my fingers. Then in December, when Christmas break came, and I hadn’t accomplished everything I was supposed to accomplish for the second quarter, I started feeling depressed again. Coincidentally on the night my eighteenth birthday, I was lying in bed and just decided to write a love letter to my future boyfriend. I still don’t know how, but that somehow turned into a love letter to God, in which I promised to let go and let God. Slowly I started to do pretty well with letting go of most things to let God. I didn’t completely give myself up to God though.

I still sometimes stressed myself to graduate on time though, and with the stress came self-destructive thoughts. In maybe February of 2012, I learned a favorite singer and actress of mine, Demi Lovato, had just come out of rehab for an eating disorder and cutting. Not only was I shocked that she had done a thing like that, especially for so many years, I was shakwn by the fact that if I didn’t completely let go of my depression and stress, I could end up like that someday. I made a new playlist with these songs on it: “You Are More” by Tenth Avenue North, “Broken Girl” by Matthew West, “Indestructible” by Britt Nicole, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson, “Someone Worth Dying For” by Mike’s Chair, “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato, “One Girl Revolution” and “Not Done Yet” by Superchick, and “We Won’t Give Up” by The Afters. I would listen to those songs nonstop, and mostly it would make me feel really good.

After a couple months though, I realized something was missing. I wasn’t really sure what it was though, until I came across a girl band that I had loved when I first heard them at twelve years old and kind of forgot about—BarlowGirl. I listened to the music I had on my iPod from their first CD and proceeded to download every other song they had. I still wasn’t sure what was missing though, I just knew that when I listened to BarlowGirl I felt better than I had in a very long time. Then while I was Googling them on the internet, I came across their stories. “Average Girl,” “Mirror,” and “Superstar,” and always been my favorite songs of theirs, but when I read and heard their stories they became even more important to me.

I learned that Becca Barlow, the oldest sister and guitar player for the band, had had an eating disorder when she was my age. In her testimony, she shares two things that made me realize part of what I was missing. She shared that God told her she was destroying what He had created; I realized that I was doing the same thing, mostly mentally, but also had in the past physically harmed myself. She also shares that a book that really helped her out of her hard time was, “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer. The name of that book itself spoke to me. I realized that my problem wasn’t what was going on around me, but what was going on inside me. I immediately checked the teen version of the book out at the library and read it. Almost as soon as I started to read it I began to feel better. I am now reading the adult version.

From Alyssa’s testimony, the middle child and bassist, pianist, and co-lead singer of the band, I learned that my major problem was that I was not letting God control my life as I had promised in December. Immediately I decided to completely give my life over to God and start reading my Bible every day. I had already said I would do that at a student convention with my school a few weeks prior, but I did not act on it. I have been reading my Bible every day since that day and have even started a “90 Day Bible Challenge.”

In a video about Lauren Barlow she confessed that she struggled with loving people the way 1 Corinthians 13 commands us to and God used that to make me realize that a lot of my problems also stemmed from not loving the people around me, as well as not loving myself. I’ve been working really hard on remembering ‘love is not self-seeking’ whenever I start to think or act badly toward people. I haven’t gotten to the point where I think it before I act, but I have gotten to the point where I think it while I act and have been able to make myself stop in the act or thought.

Finally, the fourth major thing God has used BarlowGirl to show me in my life is that I have to be totally and completely honest with Him. Often the girls talk about journaling their thoughts and talking to God through writing as well as prayer. Because I tend to speak better through writing, I immediately jumped at the idea of writing my thoughts out to God. I have felt an almost constant sense of overwhelming love and peace since I started doing that. God has used the Bible (which I also go to confirm ideas and things that I get from BarlowGirl) and many other songs and people to touch my life in an impacting and Biblical way, but nothing and no one has left as big of an impact on my life as God has through BarlowGirl.

Now all I can say about my life is that I have not been happier since I started reading my Bible and talking to God like He’s my Best Friend and True Love. I am also extremely grateful that He cares so much about me, that He used something He knows I thoroughly enjoy to speak to me in a way that I can understand and grasp.

Dear Demi

This is a letter addressed to Demi Lovato, but it’s for anyone struggling with addictive and or self-destructive habits and behaviors. To listen to this letter/watch the open letter video, click here.

Dear Demi Lovato,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you. In many ways, I feel like I do sometimes, but I know I only know what you let the world see. It’s likely that I will never know you, but please know that whether I will or won’t ever know you, I will always love you. You are loved by so many wonderful people. Your friends and family. Most, if not all of your coworkers. Your fans–the Lovatics. We all love you. More importantly, God loves you.

I know you grew up in the church. Or at least you used to say you did when you were a young Disney star. I know that at some point, whether you do now or not, you claimed to be a Christian. As I am neither you nor God, I can’t know if you are or are not a Christian. I do know that you believe in God and often credit Him for your successes. I also know that you know how easy it is to struggle with faith and God when you keep falling into the same traps and or have countless struggles hurled your way all at the same time.

I’m sure you also know how it feels to feel like God is abandoning or ignoring you in your time of need. It sucks. If you truly believe in Him, as it seems you do, then somewhere in your heart and mind, you know that’s not the case. You know God does not leave or forsake His children. You know that He hears your every prayer. Yet, you still feel like He has, even though you know He hasn’t.

That’s what causes and results from addictive and self-destructive habits. You feel isolated and alone. You feel like no one cares, like no one sees you, and like no one understands. To a certain extent, no one does. Every struggle is unique and every story is new, but you’re never alone. Somewhere deep inside you, you know that, even in the struggle, but it’s hard to believe it because you can’t see the light. All you can see is darkness. And it’s even worse when you’ve come out of the darkness only to see and follow the shadows again. Even through healing, the pain never fully goes away. There’s always an ache and there are always scars. There’s always another wrong move, another misstep, and another challenge threatening to push you back over the edge. Just when you think you’ll stay strong and keep fighting, something jumps out at you and threatens to turn out the lights. I know this, because I’ve been there. I’ve never struggled with addiction to drugs or alcohol, but I have been addicted to self-destructive thoughts and habits.

When I was 17, though it really started long before that, I struggled with thoughts of self-destruction. I considered and nearly tried self-destructive eating habits. I considered and sometimes tried self-destructive workout habits. What stuck was self-harm. In the darkest and lowest point of my life, I gave into self-mutilation and injury. I entertained the thoughts of death, major self-harm, and disappearance. I was depressed, anxious, and in loathe with myself. I hated myself and everything about me. I felt alone, unseen, and unheard by God, by my family, by my friends–even though I felt like I didn’t have any friends–and by everyone else around me. It was exhausting, heartbreaking, and draining. Then, I slowly started to see the Light through various people, various works of art, and various other things.

In my darkest times, “Open” from your EP became my anthem, because “I felt like I was screaming my mouth shut when it was really open.” As time progressed, “Believe In Me,” “Skyscraper,” “Unbroken,” “Firestarter,” and nearly every other one of your songs–and several other songs–became my anthems. I wanted to be like you. I wanted to be strong and beautiful and successful. When I felt like I would never be like you, MTV aired your special, “Staying Strong.” Then, I saw that I was like you, but not in the ways I wanted to be. We were both struggling with self-harm, depression, and general self-hate. You were struggling with other things too… some things I had thought about at one time or another. At that moment, I was afraid to be like you, but more than anything, I still wanted to be like you. I was afraid of becoming so much like you, that I’d have to go to rehab. Though I was proud of you for going, I didn’t want to go. I did, however, want to be like you in the sense that you shared your struggles, you confessed you needed help, and you reached out for assistance. I wanted to do that too, so I did.

First, I kept my struggles to myself. I prayed a lot and I did everything I could to stop hurting myself. It was surprisingly easy to stop physically hurting myself, but it was a lot harder to stop mentally and emotionally hurting myself. I prayed a lot, found refuge in music, and clung to stories and testimonies of female celebrities who had fought battles and won or were fighting battles and trying to win. You, Demi Lovato, were one of those people. When I was in my darkest days, God used you, your music, and your transparency to lift me out of my lowest point and raise me to a place of healing and restoration.

I hope now, as I write this letter, if you ever read it, that you might find healing and restoration through my prayers and the prayers of others. I hope that this battle will lead you to God in a way you’ve never seen Him before and that He will heal you totally and completely. I pray that not only will you finally overcome the addiction and temptation, but also that the temptation will go away altogether. I know that’s a big ask. I know scars and aches don’t often go away. I know that temptation is always creeping at your door, waiting for you to be weak. I do get it, maybe not in the same way, but I do understand. If I’m honest, then I must confess I was tempted to give in to the darkness a few days ago. Not only was I tempted to drown myself in drink–just this once–but worse than that, because that’s not my personal demon, I was also tempted to hurt myself again–just this once. Just to make the pain go away. Just to feel something other than the stress and looming depression. I didn’t, but I almost did, and I think that scares me more than if I had done it.

Anyway, I’m praying for you, Demi Lovato. I’m fighting for you through prayer and supplication. I am thanking God for you and your life. And I’m praying for His miraculous healing over you. I believe He can heal you, but sometimes He only heals us if we believe for ourselves that He will. Please believe Demi. Please believe that He can and will heal you. Please believe and remember that no matter what you feel, you are never alone. Please know and believe that your true friends, your true family, and your true fans–the Lovatics–are always here for you in spirit and prayer with support and love. Please stay strong and when you can’t, let us stay strong for you! ❤



A fan. A friend. And a supporter.

Too Young. Not Ready. Foolish.

“You’re too young.” “You’re not ready.” “Don’t be foolish.” These are statements we overuse. We, the grownups of the world, have a bad habit of telling the kids of the world that they’re too young. Not ready. Foolish. Too young to fall in love. Too young to have their hearts broken. Too young to feel. Too young to form opinions or make a difference. Too young to be human. Who are we to tell anyone they’re too young, not ready, or foolish? Don’t we remember being young and “foolish?”

I was 5 when I experienced my first love triangle. His name was Jonathan. Her name was Rachel and we were best friends. My vague memory says we agreed to share him until I moved away. For all I know, they’re happily married now and taking care of Jonathan Jr.

I was 8 when I fell in puppy love with Austin Phillips. He liked Yu Gi Oh. I did not. But I knew if I asked him to teach me to play, then he would, and I’d be able to spend time with him. Of course, I asked him to teach me.

A few months later, it was Valentine’s Day and I was 9. Our class was creating “mailboxes” for others to leave Valentines in. My best friend convinced me to write a “Check yes or no” card and put it in Austin’s box as anonymous. (We were 3rd graders. It didn’t occur to us anonymity defeated the purpose of asking, “Do you like me?”)

My puppy love burned strong until 7th grade when both of our families left the school. His to go to public school; mine to homeschool.

I was 12 when I got my first love letter. It didn’t go anywhere, because he was only visiting for a few weeks before going home, but I still remember some of what it said! Something along the lines of, “I really like you. So I asked my cousin to give this to you…” and more I really like you’s. Maybe a, “Do you like me too?”

In high school, I and nearly every other girl, fell for the star athlete. My best friend also liked him. It was weird at first, but we made the genuine promise that whoever he chose—we had a feeling one or both of us were options—we would be happy for the other without any hard feelings. When he did eventually choose her, I was mostly over him already, but it still kind of sucked, especially because their relationship kind of caused some drama in our friendship. All is well now though, so that’s all that matters!

When I was 17, I was depressed, anxious, and full of self-hatred and insecurities. I was angry, hurting, and self-harming.

As a senior in high school, I experienced my first (and so far only) infatuation. At the time, I really thought he could be the one. In the back of my mind, there was always something holding me back though. This something had been there since I met him at 13 or 14 and developed a small crush on him. After 4 to 6 years of him being one of my best friends, this small crush turned into a full fledged infatuation! I was falling and falling hard! As every month passed, one thing lead to another until I fell so hard there were only two options. I’d either fall in love or fall to pieces. Due to circumstances out of my control & that I don’t blame him for, I fell to pieces. I was 19 and felt my break for a boy for the first, and so far only time.

When I was graduating high school, I decided not to go to college. When I was 23, I quit a high paying job and went to work at a fast food restaurant. Then, I quit that and was unemployed for four months before starting to work full time for Uber Eats.

I share all this to say, “you’re too young,” “you’re not ready,” and “don’t be foolish” are misguided statements most often used by those too opinionated to mind their own business. Yes, most people use the term with the best of intentions. We most often say these things because we care, but even the best intentions can be misguided. I’m learning and trying to remember this as I navigate life as the oldest sister to teenage and adult siblings and as the youth leader to middle school & high school students. At this time in their lives, they’re feeling all they know to feel and trying to make the best decisions they can with the knowledge and wisdom they have—just like the rest of us are.

At 24, I know now that I was too young for “check yes or no,” too young for a relationship, and too young for the kind of heartbreak to write two of the most heartbreaking songs I’ve ever written. Of course, I didn’t know then that I was too young, because these are the things I was feeling at the time and it was all I knew to feel at the time. I only know now that I was too young, because I’m old enough to look back with 20/20 hindsight and see, “Yeah, I was way too young for those feelings!” And I can see the things I let break me were insignificant, out of my control, and or grossly out of focus. But I also see that skipping college, quitting my high paying job, not working for four months, and now working for Uber Eats have been the best things I could have done for my own mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

In the past few years, I’ve noticed I have really bad social anxiety. In the past few months, I’ve realized that has a lot to do with listening to and caring way too much about others’ unsolicited and uninformed opinions.

I’m an over thinker. One thing I normally do well is plan and pray before making a decision. Most of the time, this means I make fairly wise decisions. Perhaps not wise in the eyes of others, but wise based on God’s plan or allowance for my life. Obviously, I’m not perfect, so I do make foolish decisions—like building up credit card debt. Most people don’t know if my decisions are wise or not though. Most people seem to think I’m crazy or foolish. What they don’t see is that I pray about and plan for (most of) these decisions. What they don’t see is that these decisions are based on and are producing spiritual, emotional, and physical health.

When I was 17, I was too broken and unstable to handle being in a romantic relationship. I have a 17 year old brother who, from the outside looking in, seems like he could thrive in a romantic relationship. Even at 24, I should probably hold off on finding a boyfriend. My 22 year old brother is currently happily married with the most adorable son I’ve ever seen! There are several other kids and adults alike who could be ready and others who should maybe wait too. Not going to college and now working a nontraditional job have been the best decisions for my life. Others need/do best with structured jobs that require college. Some people just want to learn and go to college. That’s what is best for them.

College, high paying jobs, and waiting until a certain age to fall in love, get married, and have kids aren’t requirements in life. The only thing that should be a requirement in life is that we follow God’s will for our lives. But even that isn’t a requirement. God gives us a choice. It’s the wisest thing to do in life, and common sense requires it, but God doesn’t.

“Age” is just a number. “Ready” is a made up time frame. “Foolish” can only truly be determined by God. “Too young,” “not ready,” and “foolish,” are not decisions we get to make for others. It’s not our place to tell others if they’re ready or not. When asked, instead of giving opinionated advice we should try giving advice through questions. “Do you think you’re ready? What if this happens, do you think you can handle it? What does the Bible say?” If we’re not asked, then we need to bite our tongue and pray, or ask, “Can I give you some advice,” and only give it with permission. Emotions are confusing enough for adults; they’re even more confusing for teenagers whose hormones working overtime.

So, let’s stop giving unsolicited advice. Let’s get rid of the terms “too young,” “not ready,” and “foolish,” when used to describe others. Let’s love and encourage those struggling with emotions and tough decisions in life. Whether they are kids, teenagers, or adults, love, encourage, and pray for them. If you don’t agree with their decision or feelings, then love them harder and pray for them in overtime. Pray that the Lord will guide them in the way that they ought to go. Pray that God will help us to accept His and their choices for their lives.

Proverbs 22:6 is a verse to parents for children, but I think it applies to any relationship where one person is guiding another. When advising or teaching someone else, we ought to guide them in the way they should go according to God’s plan for their lives. We ought to remember that God’s plan for their lives may be different than our vision for their lives or His plan for our lives. I don’t believe this means telling them they’re too young, even if they are. I don’t think it means telling them they’re not ready, even if they aren’t. I don’t think it even means telling them they are foolish, even if their decisions are black and white foolish in relation to Biblical teaching. I believe it means praying for and with them. I believe it means encouraging them to pray through their feelings and decisions. The heart is deceptive, but that doesn’t mean feelings are always wrong. God gave us feelings for a reason. It’s our job to learn how to use and respond to them. I can’t teach someone else what feelings are right or wrong, but I can teach them how to know which feelings are right and wrong. I can point them to scripture related to their feelings and decisions. And, when I know that their choices are unbiblical, depending on our relationship and the Spirit’s leading, I can, in love, show them the wrongness of their choices. These aren’t the types of decisions and feelings I’m talking about in this post though.

What I’m talking about are the grey areas. “Should I or shouldn’t I take this job? Should I or shouldn’t I go to college? Are these feelings for this person real or not? Is my heart really broken?” What this post is about is the types of feelings and decisions I give examples for. The Bible (2 Corinthians 6:14) says to be equally yoked in relationships; it does not say what age is old enough to be in a relationship. The Bible (Colossians 3:23; Proverbs 6:6 respectively) says to do all work as unto the Lord and not unto men and to work with the determination of the ant. It also says not to love money (Hebrews 13:5) or live in debt (Romans 13:8). It does not say whether I should work a corporate job or be self-employed as a delivery driver.

My challenge to myself and others is three-fold. First, if it’s not a matter of Biblical correctness, then keep your opinions to yourself unless asked. Love and pray. Ask and suggest. Don’t tell and challenge. Don’t question and change course. Second, if it is a matter of Biblical correctness, then follow similar steps. Ask about their story and make suggestions based on scriptural guidance. In kindness, tell them the right steps to take to correct their mistakes and gently challenge them to repent—confess and turn away from their sin(s). Most importantly, love them through their struggles and pray for them to overcome their sins. Third, if, like me, you find yourself listening too much to what people think even when you know what God has called you to, then challenge yourself to care less. In love, let them know why you’ve decided what you’ve decided and ask them to pray for you and accept your and God’s decision(s) for your life.

Ultimately, whether you give the advice or take it, remember that wise counsel is important. Wise counsel can and sometimes should be what makes or breaks a decision. That said, there are a wise and foolish ways to give and take advice. Wise counsel should tell others, “God says,” not “I think.”

*Bonus Challenge* I wrote this post for a very specific reason. I am my own worst critic. More than anyone else who questions whether I am “too young,” “not ready,” or acting “foolishly” in making my decisions, I question and judge myself in the harshest manner.

The five year anniversary of my romantic heartbreak mentioned above is quickly approaching. It will be five years in August since I fell to pieces instead of falling in love and I still shake my head and call myself foolish for breaking my own heart when I knew where my infatuation would lead. What I should do, and what I should have done a long time ago, is move on and accept that I wasn’t ready for a relationship and was too foolish to see that. I moved on from him a long time ago, but I still get stuck on the foolishness of my infatuation and heartbreak.

My challenge to me is to let go and move on from the overthinking of past decisions. Big or small, I let my social anxiety keep my past decisions around way to long.

My bonus challenge to me and anyone else who overthinks is to let go and move on. Once we’ve made a decision, done a thing, or said the words, we can’t change it. All we can do is let go, move on, and choose to do better next time.

Today, at this very moment, I choose not to listen to the critics when I know God has lead me to or allowed me to choose a position or direction. I choose not to critique those who make decisions I don’t agree with if they aren’t biblically unsound. I choose to let go of and move on from decisions, actions, and words I can’t change.

If you’d like to take one or all of these challenges with me, then let me know and we can pray with and for each other.