“For so long, it was like living on a hamster wheel of fear and anxiety,” said Brittani Travelstead. “I never saw an end to it; the struggle was so debilitating. I had no idea how to find freedom.
“My parents divorced when I was two. My mother remarried, and my stepfather assumed the role of dad. We weren’t churchgoers, although I did learn about Jesus from visiting church with my grandmother. I trusted Christ when I was 12, and my grandmother gave me my first Bible. But I didn’t have anyone around who pursued Christ, so I didn’t get any discipleship.
“My mom and stepfather divorced when I was in high school, and life became chaotic and unstable. We had parties and alcohol at the house on a regular basis. At 17, a critical time in my life, I was given money to move out with zero emotional support. That’s when I experienced the first signs of severe anxiety. Feeling alone and unworthy, I wondered, if my own mother did not want me around, who would?
“As a young adult, I found my identity in relationships, drugs, drinking, and partying. Lonely and isolated, I bounced from Canada to California, and from one terrible relationship to another. In Santa Monica, I worked at a local restaurant, and that’s when I met Brandon, who is now my husband. Our relationship was built on partying and pleasure from the beginning. We occasionally attended a church in Los Angeles but consistently showed up hungover from the previous night.
“In 2008, Brandon and I decided to move to his hometown, Dallas. We also started attending Watermark, continuing our pattern of showing up hungover for many of our first visits. Despite how I was living, God slowly peeled back the layers of my life and drew me to Himself.
“We later went through Watermark’s Premarital Ministry (Merge), and the red flags in our relationship were obvious. We received great, biblical advice about our relationship and sin patterns, but we did not want to change. Our relationship was not built on the solid foundation of Christ, so there was no honeymoon period after we married.
“I filled the emptiness in our marriage through buying things. I think there was a package on the front door every single day. Brandon was very passive, and sometimes I wished he would say something, so I knew he cared, but he was struggling with his own issues.
“The Lord began changing our marriage when we joined a Watermark Foundation Group, community groups for couples married three years or less. For the first time, I was accountable to other believers. I needed their support because I felt very unloved and isolated, and I was not sure how Brandon and I were going to move forward. Then, with the support of other believers, Brandon confessed that he had been using pornography regularly. I carried a lot of baggage from the fractures in my family, so I was incredibly hurt. I had no idea how consistent his involvement had become. “When we went through Watermark’s re|engage ministry in 2015, it would have been easy for me to focus only on Brandon’s struggles. But there were issues that I needed to own as well. I struggled with fear, control, anxiety, and pride. When I felt insecure or Brandon didn’t take the lead, I stepped in.
“The Lord ended up using the re|engage curriculum to change our marriage. It was incredible to watch other couples in the group who had been restored by the Lord. It was obvious to me that the only way to have a healthy marriage is through Jesus. re|engage was a springboard in my spiritual walk with Christ, leading me to abide daily, read God’s Word, and grow.
“It’s amazing today to have authentic believers around us who are committed to Christ. In good seasons and bad, we have support from our community group. Today, I know how to cling to Christ in times of desperation when I feel lost. God has consistently shown me grace with my fear, control, shopping, and materialism. So, in Him, I can show Brandon forgiveness and empathy. We never could have rebuilt our relationship without Christ.
“When Brandon and I were asked to serve seriously dating/ engaged couples as leaders in Merge, I did not feel equipped. I was so nervous and prepared for it like I was studying for the SAT. But once we met with the couples in our group, it was amazing to see how similar we were. I think we got more out of leading in Merge than they did. God showed us that He was using our past hurts and story of redemption for His Glory (Isaiah 48:9-11).
“What the Lord continues to do in our marriage is a testament to His goodness. God has changed Brandon from someone who was full of guilt and shame to a man who lives out Romans 8:1 daily and confesses his struggles for God’s glory. God is miraculously rebuilding our marriage on a foundation anchored in Him. Only the Lord could have turned our mess into our message. I want other couples to know that God can fix your marriage and your life, too. No sin is too large; no past is too damaged. Put your faith in Him, and it will go well with you.”