The Lens

Hi there, my name is Britt. You may know of me already. Many people think they do. I used to think I did, too.

If you do recognize me, it’s probably from ABC’s The Bachelor or even The Bachelorette. If you have seen both or either, you may have a general sense of who I am, what I believe, how often I cry (quite a bit), or even how silly I can be (also quite a bit). But, the thing is, even I didn’t fully know who I was until very recently. Ironically, God used my insane journey through the world of reality TV, and the aftermath, to show me just how un-real my perceptions, especially of myself, have always been. He’s showing me the heavenly reality, and what He sees. I have been looking through a cracked lens for almost my entire life, and if you have too, maybe we can mend them together.

But first, let me back up. I’ll start at the beginning, because most people ask why I would ever sign up to do a reality show like The Bachelor in the first place. After all, being vulnerable is scary, especially on a show that for almost 30 seasons basically ensures heartbreak, embarrassment, emotional distress, and quite possibly one or two mental breakdowns per contestant. You might wonder who in their right mind would ever pursue such a public invasion of their private feelings. You might also wonder what would compel a Christian woman to dive into such a ‘secular’ world of romance, drama, and competition. And you would be absolutely right to wonder. Even my closest friends and family members did.

The truest answer I can give is the simplest one I have: I knew in my heart of hearts that God had something in it for me. The truth is absolutely as straightforward as it sounds–that I heard an unequivocal ‘yes’ from God. It makes almost no sense, in the natural at least, but every single time I prayed about this, I heard an unflinching response; that this was something I was supposed to do. God was giving me the green-light and pulling my heart toward something that would change me forever. I had no idea what was in store, and this was definitely never the plan I had for my own life, but God saw the end from the beginning. So, I said ‘yes’ to God’s ‘yes’.

Cut to several seasons of television, several rose ceremonies, several talk shows, several meltdowns, several million emotional mountains and valleys later, and here I am. I am now, a year later, someone the world thinks they know very well. They have seen me on television, on the red carpet, in magazines, and all over the internet for some time now. As strange as it is for me to come to terms with, I am, in many ways, a public figure. It is hard to see myself this way, but the fact remains. I am also, in many ways, using the platform that God gave me to help a lot of people. It is also hard for me to see myself this way, which is part of the lesson I am currently learning.

You see, I should be happy. I should be confident. I should be able to gladly accept the blessings God so generously gives me. But there is something holding me back, deep in my spirit. On the outside, everything looks good. I am working with World Vision, speaking as an ambassador and at least a hundred children have been sponsored from it. Great, right? I have spoken to churches and colleges about my faith. Commendable, right? I have counseled women privately who reach out because of what I say about Jesus. That’s the goal isn’t it?

Some people call me a role model, a lot of people write to me for advice, and even more people tell me my outspoken faith has changed their life. All of these things seem great on the outside. All of these things make the ‘yes’ I heard from God at the beginning make sense now. All of the encouragement and gratitude from inspired fans seems like it should tie up this part of my life with a beautiful bow and leave me feeling fulfilled. I know I should feel like ‘enough’ now. I should feel valuable now. I should feel lovable now. I should finally be able to accept God’s plans for me with grace, thanksgiving, and confidence. I should. I should. I should.

But often, I don’t.

Being pulled into the spotlight has a way of showing you what you really believe about yourself. I have done plenty of interviews explaining how all the pain and hardship of the entire experience all fit into God’s puzzle for me, and how grateful I am. I have given public speeches about Confidence and where it comes from, what it means, and how God has more love for you than you could imagine. I write and give advice to women with low self-esteem, body issues, and bullying. I truly feel overwhelmingly blessed, even by the most trying parts of this past year, because they have put me in a position to help others. But the funniest, saddest, truest thing I can say about all of that is that I usually don’t even feel worthy of helping.

The realest, rawest, deepest parts of me still have trouble believing that I am worthy of the things people think about me. I don’t even know if I believe the things I tell other women to believe. I still felt like if these people knew the real me, they wouldn’t be so quick to thank me for being an inspiration. I still felt like if they saw the ways I was broken inside, they would quickly find another role model and wonder why they ever reached out to me in the first place. I felt like if the women I spoke to at conferences saw the darkness inside, they would get up out of their seats and leave me. I felt like if the world saw the ugliness I was hiding, they would reject me, judge me, and that they would be right to do it.

After all has been said and done, I should be happy right? Satisfied and proud of myself for going through the ringer and coming out with a smile, right? Able to accept a compliment and hand the credit back to Jesus, right? Yes, but not always, and certainly not easily. Not easily at all. Deep down, I still felt like I was not enough.

Even up until a few months ago, I struggled with the fear of all that love being taken away. Deep down, I still felt like I wasn’t enough. I knew I should be happy, but I felt stressed out. I knew I should be proud and grateful, but I was burdened. I had no satisfaction, no answers, and no sigh of relief. I was just waiting for hte other shoe to drop. After all, if I can go through all of this and be in my position, and still not feel good about myself, what hope was there for me? I must be absolutely broken inside, right? I had no idea who I was, and now I was forced to realize that even fame and ‘good deeds’ were not filling up the void of shame I felt about who I was.

The truth is, no amount of behavior modification, ‘goodness’, accomplishment, or performance will ever clean the lens we view ourselves with. I was looking at myself through a badly broken, dirty, and dark lens of old lies about my value, the nature of my worth, and the love I deserved. I had been wearing this lens for so long that I couldn’t even remember what the world looked like without it, as it colored everything I saw with a tinge of discomfort, darkness, hollowness, and despair.

This lens is a very popular product, for Chrsitians especially. The devil constructs it with unkind words, embarrassing moments, memories of failure, feelings of shame, comparisons, untruths, and doubt. It fits so effortlessly over our eyes, that the longer it has been there, the more we cant sense it at all, which is why one of the devil’s favorite tools. He loves to put shadows over the light, to insert fear into our hearts where there should be joy, and to plague our perceptions of ourselves with the UNreal, the UNtrue, and the lie that we will never be enough.

No matter how many good things I did, I still believed I was not valuable. No matter how many people said kind things, I still believed they were wrong. No matter how many people said I was fun, funny, attractive, talented, or anything positive, I still believed in my heart that they were trying to make me feel better or that they would change their minds eventually. I could not accept love fully, because I did not believe I was worthy of it. I saw myself as deeply flawed, broken, and undeserving of grace or goodness, and it wasn’t until very recently that Jesus showed me the truth about this dirty, old lens I had been looking at myself through.

I didn’t even it was there, but God did. He sees a lot of His children walking around in near-blindness and with distorted vision. He sees the way our view of ourselves is warped and how it weighs on us. I believe it breaks His heart, because it has nothing to do with how HE sees us. I also believe He knows where and when the lies started glossing over our vision of truth. He knew the moment I said ‘yes’ to the lie that I will never be good enough. God knew why I could speak to women about confidence and accepting themselves and God’s love, but I couldn’t do it for myself. He knew why I could have grace for others and not for myself. He knew why I could look at other people’s humanity, fears and struggles and see that they were still valuable, but would spiral into shame and sadness if I ever made a mistake.

I belive He also knew it didn’t have to stay that way. He began to reveal to me the truth, slowly but surely. It started one night in my bed. I had gone to sleep anxious and angry with myself for having an imperfect day, a doubting heart, an ugly, broken, day filled with mistakes. As my head hit the pillow, I heard lie after lie about my self-worth and value. That old lens was tinted even darker than usual.

I lay in my bed feeling alone and beyond repair, unable to hear the truth of what God has always said about His love for me over the incessant chatter of the enemy. I was consumed with the UNreal view that I was beyond help.

But God was not content to let me stay there any longer.

I woke up at about 2:30 in the morning, full of energy and…what was that? Hope? I don’t know. It felt good. All of the sudden, God took me on a journey. I started watching a timeline of memories, some older than others, some I had forgotten, some I had been to afraid to reexamine since they happened.

It began in dance class, where I saw myself as a young girl. I remember feeling bigger than all the other girls, less skilled, less beautiful, less acceptable, and less valuable. I saw Jesus there, looking at me with love and acceptance. Could that be true? It was, I could see on His face that He admired me, that He was proud of me, that He was not embarrassed or ashamed of my lack of coordination or my lack of skill. I was a child, just being a child, and He loved me perfectly.

I started crying.

“You were never less than anyone in that room”, He said.

I started crying more.

Next, I saw myself in the bathroom of my 6th grade gym class. I had just gotten in trouble for trying on lipstick, which was not allowed at my Christian school. My teacher had yelled at me in front of the class and sent me to wash it off. I watched myself scrubbing my face with tears streaming down my cheeks, thinking I must be a really bad girl for doing something against the rules.

Again, I saw Jesus. He had been there all along. Again, He was looking at me with love.

“You were never a bad girl”, He said.

I started crying, this time uncontrollably, as memory after memory flooded my mind. So many times where I had simply been doing childish things, but had been labeled ‘bad’, and taken that on entirely. I saw ways in which my identity as ‘bad’ or ‘unlovable’ began to take form. I saw the dirty lens growing darker and darker. I saw ugly lies about being disgusting, untalented, worthless, less-than, unkind, imperfect, broken, undesirable or flawed sinking their teeth into me. I saw my little heart allowing them in, and accepting them as truths until they were woven into my identity. Seeing it from the outside made me feel compassion for that little girl.

But she was never alone. I also always saw Jesus, memory after memory, telling me He loved me.

I saw Him in the moments where I felt the most broken, the dirtiest, and the most alone, sitting beside me. In one instance, a memory I have used to shame myself for years, I saw Him. It was during a time in my life when I was completely controlled by bulimia, and living my life in such darkness and self-hatred that I felt deep shame almost every moment of the day. I was sitting in a restaurant, already full of food I had binged on from different places, about to eat another meal before I went and purged in the bathroom. I had felt all alone, completely out of control, panicked, desperately sad, deeply ashamed, confused, full of pain (physical, emotional, and spiritual pain). I saw myself, with my head down, afraid to be seen, but too full of the momentum of my addiction to stop. I felt like the most lost and lonely person on the planet. Too dirty to love, too confused by my own destructive behavior to let anyone in on my secrets, too disgusting to be acceptable, and too broken to be worth anything. But again, even in that little Chinese restaurant, in a plastic booth, I saw Jesus physically sitting next to me.

Now, I know I was not making this up, because if I had been scripting this dream, I’m sure He would have lifted my chin up or said something profound, or maybe taken the food away, or released me from the urge to hurt myself by throwing up again and again, or somehow magically undone what was happening and made me better…but He didnt. He just sat there, with me. Quietly. The longer I watched us, I could see that He was not stressed out. He was not disgusted with me. He was not angry. He wasn’t judging me, or trying to make me feel bad, or telling me I should be strong enough to just change already. None of these. He was just THERE…and He was writing down a longlist of things He enjoyed about me.

He was just there, loving me. Accepting me. Seeing the good in me.

That felt like the truest picture I have ever seen of the way God feels about all of us. That felt a lot like unconditional love. I couldn’t believe it.

And it continued. I saw my entire life, many portions of which I had completely forgotten or pushed down for years, unfolding in TRUTH. I saw myself in third person and I could not believe how different each memory appeared. I couldn’t believe how differently God was looking at me (and EVERY person involved, I must add) in every single moment.

I had never been the terrible person the devil had let me think I was all these years. I was a human. Making mistakes. And even when I made mistakes, I saw Jesus understanding my humanity and loving me persistently. He never withdrew. He never looked scared. He never looked angry. He simply loved me. My value to Him did not change in any memory, regardless of the content. As I watched Jesus’ reaction to me remain so consistent, so loving, and so genuine, I began to feel lighter. The burden of being perfect for Him was taken off of my shoulders, in a way I could almost tangibly feel. Such relief.

I was loved anyway. I was not too flawed for Him. I never had been. I had been His all along. I couldn’t believe it. The lens was removed for that night, and the world was so bright and full of color. I felt hope. I felt Jesus looking at me with pride, confidence, and such compassion. He was not angry at my humanity, He was my friend. My best friend. A friend who died for me to be able to let go of my shame, guilt, lack of love, and all the darkness that I felt. He wasn’t judging me from afar, He had been right beside me and on my team. Freedom washed over me. I felt old burdens being lifted, old chains being broken, and layer after layer of dirt and distortion falling like scales from my eyes.

I could breathe deeper–I was allowed to love myself as God loved me. I looked at myself in truth for possibly the first time ever. I could see so clearly that my value never had anything to do with being famous, or even with helping people, or even with saying or doing the right things–it had to do with the fact that God made me and He loved me from the beginning. All of the things I had been waiting on to ‘cure’ me from my hurting could never do it. The lens would never be cleaned with my actions or my success. The reality was, I had never been any more or less valuable…since the day I was born. Whoa.

Jesus was tenderly showing me just how UNreal my perception of my own value, beauty, worth, and humanity have always been. Maybe you can relate. Do you see yourself as perfectly lovable? As healthy and whole? As worthy, valuable, likeable, and ENJOYED by Father GOd? Or do you see through the same filter I always had?

This year has been one of the most intense, transformative, and revealing seasons of my life, Jesus has reframed my entire existence through it. I believe He used the obvious emptiness and lack of fulfillment that came from the fame and even the success of a reality show (go figure) to give me a dose of HIS reality. He showed me that all along, I had access to the acceptance that I had been overlooking for my entire life. Value will never come from the outside, and it will never have to. Jesus is right there, cheering us on when we feel the most broken. He is right there, looking at you with the same amount of love and compassion, whether you are preaching to the homeless or making a selfish mistake. The sooner we ask Him to show us the way He sees us, the sooner we can let go of the shame that He already died to free us from. Then, we do good out of love–not out of fear of being unloved. Then we draw near to him out of gratitude and friendship and a knowledge that He has never been far. Then, we can live the abundant life He promised us, and that He sees for us. When we ask for God’s view, we see reality. His truth is the only lens that leads to freedom, peace, and all the fruit of the SPirit. Father, help us to see ourselves and others as You see us. Today and always. AMEN.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Wendy
    Reply

    Beautiful. Just beautifully written heartfelt words. Don’t doubt yourself and what you have to offer the world. Paths are always different to a happy, fulfilled life. The journey to get there is what makes you YOU. I wish lots of happiness and love to you (and your gorgeous hair 😁).

  • Amanda
    Reply

    This was so encouraging for me, as I have gone through some of the same stuff as you. And please always know that you are are a role model! At least to me! Seeing how you handled yourself in a Godly wayon tv and then how you have shone Gods like through your posts and when you meet people. You aren’t a perfect person but you strive to live a Godly life! And I think that’s what makes an awesome role model! You are beautiful inside and out! And thank you for being on tv so we all could know who you are 😉

  • Yaremi
    Reply

    I had no idea you were dealing with such struggles Britt. When I first saw you on the bachelor as a cheerful confident woman I thought to myself how perfect you were, which is funny because no one is perfect, but I was fixated on the positive and controlled attitude you had earlier on the show. I found it strange that you didn’t break down or feel insecure like the other girls on the show in fact I was a bit annoyed by it, haha. The day you finally burst into tears after being heartbroken by Chris I felt really bad for you because the show had no sympathy towards your sadness and discomfort instead they took your emotions and made them appear fake on television. A lot of people were giving you a hard time saying how you only cried to make it appear like you were a victim or how you shed those salty tears for attention and fame. I was flabbergasted at the foul words these people were saying to you when they don’t even realize how reality TV can twist and change things to only fit their own needs. There’s a whole different story behind the camera lens! ALWAYS. Anyways, I am so overjoyed God lifted you up from your worries and demons, and made you see the truth about yourself. You are truly an inspiration and I want you to know how extradonuary of a writer you are and how this post really motivates me to always seek Jesus and ask for his help because I know he loves me. I know you don’t know me and I don’t know you but reading this makes me feel like I do know you and were your are coming from. Does that make sense? I feel like you’ve shared something personal to me because you HAVE and I am SO thankful for that because it really shows me how no one is perfect and how great our lord and savior is. He’s unconditional love still amazes me! Keep doing what Gods leading you to do Britt…I love you my sister in Christ! 💛

  • Mikaela
    Reply

    I literally just read your whole story and cried. It’s crazy and amazing to know that we are never alone in the things we struggle with becaue we all are imperfect people loved by a perfect God. Just thank you so much for being real it encourages my heart soo much❤

  • Priti
    Reply

    This made me cry… I’ve had a very similar experience recently. God revealed his unconditional and boundless love for me and gave me a sense of true worth to cling on to all my life. I’m so thankful that this has happened for the both of us, so that we’re now able to see life through God’s lens and impart the love we’ve received from Him onto others wholeheartedly. I feel so satisfied and completely full of life now and I’m sure you do too, so praise God for the amazing way he loves!

    P.s. I’m so thankful for you… We don’t know each other but it’s astounding how we can understand exactly how the other is feeling simply by understanding the Father’s unshakeable love :) (I also love your vibrant smile, your spirit and your love for life!) From what I know, I can tell that you find joy in every little thing and that is such a gift! Your heart is so precious, valuable and unique and I’m so glad that you’re now able to hear these things from others and fully believe them in your heart :)

    Love you lots, keep us posted & keep smiling! 💕 Xx

  • Robyn
    Reply

    You are an amazing writer! You should write a book. Truly inspirational.

    Thank you and God bless

  • rbpier
    Reply

    You are truly a gifted writer. Please blog more.

  • Deborah
    Reply

    Brit, to me, this is your answer to any question you may have – or anyone may have about WHY:
    “The reality was, I had never been any more or less valuable…since the day I was born.”

    And Jesus will do anything and everything to help us see this. Brit, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing what so many people feel – probably all of us – in one way or another. If only more people could read this. I say, post it over and over. Could you/have you posted it on your instagram…if more people see that? I will share this with my son, my students and my friends. You G(l)O(w) girl!

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