Bailey, Brianna

My story of faith begins like many others:
I grew up in the church, accepted Jesus, was baptized at the age of five, and raised in a home where He was simply a given part of everyday life.
Truly a typical tale of childhood faith, with one notable exception…

Early in my infancy, I was diagnosed with a congenital condition in which my cranial plates fused prematurely, preventing growth of the brain. The only treatment was repeated surgeries to break apart the fused plates to allow my brain to expand normally, and even this couldn’t address a host of other syndromes that often accompanied the root issue.
Now as a mama myself (whose first baby was also born to the concern of congenital abnormalities), I marvel at the strength of my parents’ faith.
They took their fears and turned them in the best possible direction: as my mom puts it, they “prayed their wheels off.” On my final pre-surgical trip to the children’s hospital, all of my scans came back clean.
“There’s nothing wrong with your baby,” they were told.
“We don’t know what happened, but you can go home.”

So from the beginning, as soon as I could work my mind and mouth around the word “testimony,” I understood that God hears us, He cares about us, and we bear the thumbprint of the miraculous.

Of course, my early walk with God wasn’t without its challenges. My personality is that of a typical high-achieving, recognition-driven, perfectionist first child. While this meant I made excellent grades in school, it also meant that I lived under the burden of trying to earn God’s approval. I understood that salvation was unmerited, that there was nothing I could do to earn my redemption . . . but would I ever be good enough for Him to be proud of me?
If I worked harder, accomplished more, simply was better,
would He love me more?

I spent years trying to bury the nagging feeling that I was disappointing Him with my less-than-perfect self, but during college, my faith became my own. In a messy dorm study room, at a table covered in pop tart dust and ramen noodle bits,
I learned the sweetness of a few pre-dawn minutes with the One who loves me best.

I found Ephesians 2:8, and “saved by grace” became one of my life verses.
In a kairos moment, when heaven touches earth and the kaleidoscope shifts, I suddenly understood that
I wasn’t saved only from the eternal consequences of my sins,
I was saved from the impossible–and unnecessary–struggle to be good enough.

He loved me.
All of me (even those ugly parts I was trying desperately to hide).
Completely.
He couldn’t possibly love me more than He already did, first because of His grace, and then simply because I was His.

Following graduation, my faith began the roller coaster ride familiar to many believers: epic highs–spurts of devotion and mountain-top experiences–followed by desolate lows, when my journals gathered dust and the only time my Bible opened was at church on Sunday. Instinctively, I knew there had to be more.

Something was missing, and while I was hungry for it, I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know how to escape the cycle in which I was trapped. Meanwhile, there came marriage and babies and moving and my longing for a holy change was dampened by the sheer busyness of life.
Some day, I told myself.
When the kids are in school and I have time to take a breath, I’ll figure it out.
He had disciples that followed Him around like needy toddlers. He gets it.

And while to some extent this is true, and I do believe there’s special grace for mamas in the fray, in rare quiet moments of deep honesty,
I knew He had more for me.
Today.
Right now.

It was into that empty, longing space, God dropped discipleship. And my life has been transformed. For the past two years, my faith has been on a different kind of journey. I’ve learned more than I have words or space to share, but at its heart, it’s almost mind-blowingly simple:
discipline and support lead to life change.
Turns out, He DOES have so much more for me.
Today.
Right now.
He’s talking to me all the time, and if I listen to what He’s saying and then act on it, my life, my family’s lives, and my community’s lives will change. One final lesson I’ll mention is the understanding that God can use my story, my work-in-progress, beautiful mess story, to speak to and touch others. My mission is to share Jesus generously and always, and my hope is that by participating in the ministry of Gracefully Truthful I will give Him a new opportunity to reach His precious kiddos.
Thanks for allowing me to share my journey with you!

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