{w}hole: Brittany’s Story

Late into the night writing words…I often try to envision who will read them.

I cannot see a face, and that frustrates me.  But for their heart I pray, that it will be joined with mine in common threads that only Jesus can tie.

And then sometimes, in God’s grace, He lets me see a face and know a name.

In this case, Brittany.  Here…her own words about something many of us struggle with: thinking our one big life experience defines our story.

I used to think my Mormon childhood was my story.

It was the only thing that made me different, the defining experience that molded who I was and who I was to become. I’d heard some stories described as “great testimonies,” as if there was a scale of pasts and the more dramatic they were, the more powerful. My Mormon past shocked people most, so I figured that must be it, my story.

The problem was, I hated telling it. I believed I was supposed to share it, but it just never came out quite right when I tried. People didn’t clap or say ‘amen’ or shout ‘praise Jesus’  when I finished speaking; they just stared or asked crazy questions I didn’t know how to answer.

So I hid it. I ignored it. And because I believed it was my story, the hiding and ignoring brought guilt and shame in heavy doses. If I wasn’t using my story for the glory of God, I was letting Him down, I thought.

And then, I read {w}hole.

As my eyes skimmed over pages scattered with black and white, my soul breathed easy and light with the awareness that God had brought me to that moment on purpose. “Holes are created when we allow our experiences to become our story,” I read, and I knew that was it, the truth He was leading me to. The freedom He wanted me to find.

I finally realized being raised in the Mormon church was an experience. An important, life-altering, character-shaping experience, but an experience nonetheless. And believing that one experience was my whole story created a hole. And that hole became a home for guilt and shame.

My story is so much more than one experience. It is the story of a girl trapped by religion and released by grace. It is the testimony of God’s constant pursuit of our hearts, even when we’re looking for Him in the wrong places. It is the discovery of a relationship with a Savior who still lives, forgives, and loves…it is the story I will share.

Brittany Williamson is a twenty-something who is amazed every day by the grace of her God. She is passionate about the purpose and potential of her generation and loves journeying with other twenty-somethings on her blog, www.faithinbetween.com. She can also be found on Twitter (@britmwilliamson) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/faithinbetween).

Question: Can you relate to Brittany’s story about how an experience in her life once defined her?  Is there an experience you have lived that you have allowed to define your “story?” Brittany and I would love for you to share…

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    • Lisa says

      Thanks, Joe. I think it’s the creatives “curse” to grapple with such things. :) But I will remember your counsel to just write as I sit at my computer at night. Thanks for your voice!

  1. says

    Please just keep writing.
    God’s using you in a myriad of ways..
    on my journey of healing as well
    as countless others, I’m certain.
    Blessings . . .

  2. Debbie Diggs Phillips says

    Lisa, I love to read your writing….don’t over-analyze! In the words of the great philosopher, Dory….”Just keep swimming….just keep swimming…” God will do the rest!!

    • says

      So grateful these words resonated with you, Alene. It took many years for me to break free from the rules of man and embrace the freedom offered us through the love of Christ. Praise God–He never gives up on us.

      And thank you, Lisa, for the opportunity to share my {w}hole story in this community.

  3. says

    Brittany-Your heart amazes me on a daily basis! God’s Grace is so apparent in you, your words, and your life! Thanks for sharing both your experiences AND your ongoing story!

    • says

      Your constant encouragement means the world to me, Holly. You have helped me along this writing journey in more ways than you know. After all, it was you who first said, “I love when you talk about grace. It’s your thing. It makes you tick.” You opened my eyes, then, to the messages God wants me to share. Love you, sweet, sweet friend.

  4. says

    Lisa–your struggle with wondering if what you write will come back empty is something I can identify with 100%. Happens to me every, and I mean EVERY, time I write.

    Brittany–your story is amazing. I grew up knowing Christ’s sacrifice and believing in Him, but I never actually knew what a life serving and following him looked like for me until recently…honestly, I’m still learning.

  5. says

    I hear you, Amy. I, too, am still learning what it looks like in my daily life to live for Him. Praise, praise that He walks the journey with us (and forgives along the way!).

  6. says

    Brittany, love how you said this,”My story is so much more than one experience. It is the story of a girl trapped by religion and released by grace.” I think that resonates with so many.

    • says

      I am often surprised (and saddened) to hear how many of us experience bondage from religion at some point in our lives, though I am grateful to have others to journey with as we break free. Thank you for coming by here, Eileen.

  7. says

    Brittany, thanks so much for your courage to share! I love the trapped/freed mental picture I get. I think so many of us believe that being trapped in religion can’t be all that bad… it’s of God, right? But freedom through Him is so much sweeter… And, Lisa, I’ve been touched by your words too many times to count now! I love how you make me think!!! Blessings to you both!

    • says

      I hear you, Tamara. It is so easy to fall into the trap of religion because we can make ourselves believe it is a safe, even righteous, place…but I love how you put it, ‘freedom through Him is so much sweeter!”

  8. Lina says

    Thank you Lisa,

    I believe whenever we speak our truth and share it with others someone else is made just a little more whole inside.

    Today that happened for me as I read your blog.

    One of my stories about who I am always revolved around my abusive marriage when I was very young. I divorced him after only 2 years of marriage and even though we had a child together he has barely hit my radar in over a decade. Until last week. Suddenly his voice was on my message machine. He wants something from me. He wants to be relinquished from his debt of child support that is still hanging over his head. He has hardly ever paid me and our daughter is now 26 and has her own family…. I was surprised to find pieces of residual anger and bitterness linked to him in my soul. I thought that was long gone by now.

    I had been praying this morning for the courage to “do the right thing” with the paperwork I was sent and to let go of all my resentments and my feelings of “he owes me” which again, I thought were gone until they reared their ugly head this week.

    To my astonishment and happy amazement something shifted when I read what Brittany wrote. I don’t even really know how it related but in that sentence of “looking for love in all the wrong places” God whispered my ex’s name in my ear and something physically moved inside me.

    Time to finally lay that to rest. To be done. To be made whole. That marriage experience has not been my story for quite some time now but I don’t want it to define any part of me in the negative. I came out a stronger, better person after God took away all the shame and pain that was lived there. I have been molded by that experience but I will not allow it to be my full story any more not even in the hidden parts…

    Thank you both for sharing your stories. They do matter and they do help.

    Be Well – Be Whole,

    • says

      Oh, Lina, I am now a runny mess, but I am so grateful you shared this with us. You captured the importance of recognizing the difference between our experiences and our stories so beautifully when you wrote, “I have been molded by that experience but I will not allow it to be my full story any more not even in the hidden parts…”.

      I am now the one who has been made a little more whole inside because you were willing to speak your truth. Thank you for allowing me this glimpse into your heart & the work God is doing.

  9. says

    {{It is the testimony of God’s constant pursuit of our hearts,}}

    And oh how He woos us with His love and tenderness. Praise Him for that!

    Brittany, your precious heart and beautiful writing never cease to amaze me. God has given you a gift and I am so glad to have met you at SS last year. To see you blossom and flourish with the Father’s touch is beauty to be held. Thank you for sharing this page in your story with us.;-) Blessings to you!

  10. says

    Thanks so much for sharing today Brittany! I have a friend with a similar background and story. I sent thus along today and she expressed her appreciation in reading and knowing she is not alone in her journey. God bless!

    • says

      Thank you for passing it on, Heather. I was hesitant at first to share my story, but knowing others relate has made it more than worth it. If your friend hasn’t already, I would definitely recommend {w}hole to her. It helped me put my experiences in the right perspective..which led to a healing I hadn’t yet experienced (or even realized I was missing!).

  11. says

    Brittany, I am always ministered to by your words. Thanks for being bold and sharing them!

    And Lisa, thanks for giving Brittany a forum to do so!


  12. Brittney says

    I am so inspired by Brittany and her true Grace
    She shows everyday. God truly is beaming and
    Constantly working in her heart and that is evident
    To all around her. I am so happy to know you found
    Your story and you should know how much you
    Have inspired my walk with Christ :)

  13. Karen says

    Brittney, thank you for sharing your story about breaking free of the bonds of religion.

    Lisa, I just started reading your book and have read the first 2 chapters and WOW, I can’t express how much it has impacted me. Please keep writing and don’t stress about it. God is using you in a mighty way. Just keep writing please :) Thank you for being God’s vessel.

    • Lisa says

      Karen…this blesses me so much. Thank you for sharing how the book means something to you. Stay in the journey to the end, because chapters 7 and 8 are my personal favorites. :)

  14. says

    Brittany, as always your writing is such a blessing. There are so many who suffer in silence from the rules of man. Your testimony is so valuable for the Kingdom. Persevere, sweet sister!

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