Brittni Bernstine-I am Known by God.
Imagine sitting around a campfire, your grandfather is telling you a story. Everyone is gathered, s’mores in hand while your eyes are interlocked with the fire and your ears are glued to your grandfather's words as he begins to tell you a story.
I sat around and heard this story year after year but it wasn’t around a campfire, there were no s’mores and my grandfather wasn’t the storyteller. This story actually happened in a little bedroom with my mother and me. She began to tell me the story of how her and my father did not plan to have me but how the Lord had different plans for my life.
“I felt nauseous all the time,” my mom said. Her best friend told her to take a pregnancy test. “Have you lost your mind? I am too old to have a child.” Long and behold she sat down after taking the pregnancy test, and nothing more visual than a vibrant pink cross made her realize the … her world was about to be flipped upside down.
It never ended, it was a continual thought in my mind, throughout my childhood.
So what was the point of living?
He’s not going anywhere. He has never left me and He never will.
She would tell me this story so often that I knew it in detail form. She would say “your father and I had been married for five years, I had a daughter and your father had a son coming into the marriage, and we thought we were set.”
During my mom’s pregnancy with me, she struggled immensely. She endured a lot of pain and trauma and didn’t understand where all of these complications were coming from. The doctors told her that she had fibroids which were as large as a cantaloupe. They were starting to get larger than me. The pain my mother experienced was so unbearable that she was paralyzed to her bed and could not leave it for two months. The doctor gave my mother two suggestions; one, you can either abort the pregnancy and start all over again or two, you can take a pill that had Tylenol with Codeine. But there was a catch, “by the time you give birth, you and your baby will be addicted.”
“Brittni,” she told me “the odds were stacked against you, but look how you've made it. Look how God sent you. Even though you were not planned God sent you.”
You would think hearing this story every year would make me realize how blessed I am, but in reality, it was another reminder that I was not chosen. It was another reminder for me that I didn’t belong and that no one wanted me. It was a reminder, again, I was the last to be picked, the last to be thought of. If something were to happen to me, would anyone even notice?
Growing up, home never felt like home, because it felt like home didn’t want me. It didn’t help either that school didn’t want anything to do with me either. Girls were ruthless and mean. I remember one occasion where girls threw rocks at my head for no reason, just so they could have a laugh. It broke me. I wrestled with constant thoughts of “this will never end, no one will ever notice me, no one will ever want to stay long enough in my life.”
As a teenager, I went to Wednesday night services at my home church. One night, in particular, I remember dreading it all the way there. My mom was driving and I was having a conversation in my head with the Lord.
“Lord, if you don’t meet me tonight, I will walk away forever.”
To say the Lord met me that night was a bit of understatement. I sat in a cold chair but felt warmth throughout my entire body. The presence of the Lord was there, and it felt as if my youth pastor and I were the only people in the room. The words he spoke, was the thought of my heart and in that moment I knew the Lord was meeting me. As he was ending his message, the last words he said were: “Don’t you dare leave this room until you get what you need from God tonight.”
As I tried to leave in hurry, with tears streaming down my face and mascara smooshed all over my cheeks, my first thought was I just need to get out of here. I rushed to get out of the door but was completely stopped by a mighty force that would not let me leave. I tried everything within my body to leave and I could not leave. I turned around and there my youth pastor was ready to embrace me. In that moment of his embrace, I truly felt God whisper to me: “I’ve been waiting for you.”
I wish I could say ever since that night it has been roses and peaches but honestly, it is still a struggle. But I now know that I am known by God. If no one else sees me or if I ever feel like I’m not wanted I am reminded of that night so quickly and remember that God has been waiting for me this entire time.