“Brittney! There is someone on the phone for you!” My mom yelled from downstairs. As much as she tried to hide who was actually on the phone her big grin nearly gave it away. “Here, hurry up, Answer.” She said as she smiled from ear to ear. I grabbed the phone and answered, “Hello?” “Hi, is this Brittney?” “Yes.” I replied. “Hi this is Sara from America’s Next Top Model; Tyra Banks has watched your interview tape and has selected you as one of the top 30 semifinalist for the show.” Before she was able to get the words out I had fallen to my knees speechless; meanwhile my mom was jumping up and down and screaming. “Thank You Jesus, Oh lord, Thank You!” For a second our family room turned into an old Baptist church as my mom ran back and forth like she had just caught the Holy Ghost. When the phone call ended I joined her as we grabbed hands jumping and screaming. We stared at each other shaking our heads, lost for words. In that moment my mom began to tell me the story that she often told me while rocking me back in forth in her arms with tears in her eyes. For the first time, she retold the story with joy and great confidence in the future; A confidence that I would take with me into the competition.
“Brittney when I found out I was pregnant with you. I was only 19 and your father didn’t want to be in our life. Oh and I had the absolute worst case of morning sickness! I would often run into the closet, vomit in a plastic bag and cry; Contemplating what I was going to do. How would I support us? Although the thoughts went through my head, I loved you too much to put you up for adoption and or have an abortion. But one day while I was in that dark closet, I heard the voice of God for the first time. I was baptized and had been to a few church services but I had never experienced anything like this. The soft voice said, ‘She is my daughter, I have placed her in your womb and I have great plans for her. Many will know her name and she will touch a lot of lives. Don’t worry about how you will provide I will, and you all will never want for anything. I will take care of you. Raise her up in my word and watch my words come to past in her life. I am her father she is my child.’” Although I had heard the story many times I felt as though I was hearing it for the first time.
Even as I write tears are hitting the keys of my orange MacBook. Those same words that brought hope, peace, reassurance, comfort and joy to my 19-year-old mother still encourages the 23-year-old me in my weak times. Let’s face it, no matter how confident you may be you still have times of discouragement, the night of the phone call my mother and I fell asleep in the bed holding each other and woke up with big smiles on our faces. We both knew what we had been through, we both knew our struggle, we both knew the words that God spoke that day in the dark closet when I was still in her belly and it felt really good to see it come to past. The joy in my mother’s eyes made me feel really good, she was so proud and I wanted more than anything to keep her feeling that way. To me, it was the only way I could thank her for being selfless for many years and giving me life.
I was on cloud nine. The goals I had set for myself were finally coming to past; I was crossing off my first long-term goal at 17. My mom and family were so proud of me; my dreams became that much closer; we had just gone on a shopping spree at Wal-Mart and Discovery for clothes for the show, haha! I received approval to leave school in the middle of my senior year and shortly after I was flown out to Los Angeles to appear as a model in my favorite show. I advanced from the top 30 to becoming one of the top 12 finalists. Things were going so well and then … I was eliminated. My biggest fear was staring me in the face. It’s one thing to be rejected in private, but when it happens in the public eye that is a completely different feeling. To make matters worse when the show finally aired the episode wasn’t a true reflection of who I really was. How could God let this happen? The teasing and ridiculing I experienced in grade school and high school seemed like nothing compared to the backlash I received. I felt like the whole world was against me and at the time I was literally depressed.
I felt like being eliminated was the worst thing ever but it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. As a young naïve 18-year-old girl I really grew up that year, learned a lot about, life, people, myself, the industry and the world. One day while I was lying in bed with a box a Kleenex and flaming hot Cheetos God said, “Go to Elite Model Management’s open call this week, I have something for you. Trust Me.” I was reluctant to say the least, in fact I flatly told God “no.” I wasn’t going to put myself out there again to be rejected. I told him I would consider going after I built a perfect portfolio, the nerve of me. This was the agency I was competing for a contract with on the show I was eliminated from just a few months prior. God simply told me to “get out of bed and go be.” After going back and forth with him for a while, he won and I got out of bed and went. Sometimes when all else seems to fail, you just need to follow God’s instructions and believe. When I went to the open call I didn’t have any photos with me, I wasn’t wearing any makeup, my shoes were two sizes too big, and my weave looked a mess (lol) in spite of all of these perceived to be imperfections they offered me a contract on the spot! Talk about God! I went on to sign with Elite Model Management at just 18 and that marked the start of my professional modeling career.
The next time God had to tell me to “Go Be” was two years later when I had to overcome my fear of failure and moved out to Los at the age of 20. My mother and I packed up our SUV and drove over 3,000 miles from Chicago. After spending a week with me I dropped her off at the airport and immediately went to mountains Griffith Park. I was sitting on the top of the mountain next to the Hollywood sign with nothing but my journal, a bible and a pen. The whole week my mom was worrying herself crazy but I maintained my confidence and faith in hopes of strengthening hers. But as soon as she left I broke down. Hikers walked passed me staring as I looked like a crazy person in a skirt sitting Indian style at the edge of the mountain talking to myself. I was scared. “God you have me in this big city where I don’t know anyone. I don’t have a clue what I’m going to do. Show me I need to see the next step.” I prayed with a humble and surrendered heart. And it was on that mountain that Burgers and Bibles was conceived. I always had a heart for the homeless and always knew I would have some type of nonprofit but never had a seen vision god gave me on that mountain. Like before I gave him all of the reasons why I wasn’t qualified to do it, I didn’t know a thing about nonprofit management, however in my times of “buts”, God said again “Just Be” and I did. I was busy trying to disqualify myself for something God had already qualified me for.
Fast forward to two years later I am still modeling and Burgers and Bibles has fed and ministered to over 10,000 homeless men and women on Skid Row in Los Angeles and Orange County. A lot of the times when God was calling me to do something I felt like I needed to be perfect to do it. “Let me get experience modeling first before I go on Americas Next Top Model” I begged God. “Let me get the perfect photos for the open call then I will Go God; let me save more money, have a job first, and then I will move God please; let me go back to school to learn about nonprofit management then I will start it.” I didn’t realize this pursuit of perfection pattern until just now. Haha! The Beautiful thing about God is that he doesn’t need us to be perfect in order to use us. God’s love is not a human, conditional love; He loves unconditionally. He allows things to flourish in its timing. God’s instruction in so many words was often times stop trying to be and “Just be”. “Just be” what? Be you!
I’m so far from perfect but the good thing is that we don’t need to be. The only thing God wants you to be is you! Authentically You! He will make the necessary changes or do the perfecting. Stop focusing on your imperfections the messed up thing you did yesterday and be the beautiful spirited person God has created you to be. We can’t play God. I tried to, failed miserably and got worn out! He’s happy when your happy and being authentically you! He has given you some pretty cool gifts, talents, skills and a really unique personality it’s time to let that shine! This is what he told me as he resurrected a childhood dream of mines that I buried years ago in fear. “You know that dream you had that you thought was crazy? I want you to go after it. I have a plan” You can and will overcome the thing you’re facing. Let go of your fears, face them head on, have faith, and Just Be!
I am more than excited to do so and see his plan unfold as I resurrect the longtime dream and journey towards being crowned Miss USA. I am happy to announce that I am now an official contestant for Miss California USA.
What dream needs to be resurrected in your life? Comment Below and tell me about it and then Go Be!