Brianna: From the age of 10, I was stuck with the label “child prodigy,” winning piano competitions, featured in local newspapers, and recognized as a passionate, fiery recitalist. Yet, even as a youth, I was severely depressed. I was insecure, seeking affection, and perpetually in pursuit of attaining “good enough.” Right before my 16th birthday, my world suddenly turned upside down. In an unexpected turn of events, I faced a close encounter with death, had my innocence taken, and watched helplessly as my mother’s health began to rapidly fail. Too ashamed to ask for help and blaming myself for the situation, I despairingly turned to self-harm, eating disorders, and eventually, planned my own suicide. One day, I heard the song ‘Broken Pieces’, and I found something onto which I could cling to – Truth, even when I could not feel it and it failed to make sense.
Through involvement with an organization called Csehy Summer School of Music, I came to personally know Christ. For the first time in my life, I experienced peace, hope, and true joy. Dedicating my life to God, I went back home with a different perspective. My life was still intense – balancing high school and conservatory studies, living between home and the hospital, while being a full-time caretaker for my undiagnosed mother. By the grace of God, I managed to graduate as Salutatorian and get accepted into music school. However, shortly before college began, my mother passed away.
I started my B.A. in piano at Charleston Southern University, using every spare moment to pour my heart out into the keys as a wordless prayer. Yet, a lingering pain in my right hand soon became constant. A few months after my mother’s funeral, I was diagnosed with severe damage in my right hand, incited by the physical strains from being a caretaker. The only option left was surgery, followed by excruciating therapy, without guarantee of returning to the keys. My doctor strongly advised me to quit and choose a different career path. But I fought back.
Over the next several years, I fought through recovery – from both surgical and emotional scars. I realized that though I had given my life to Christ, I hadn’t fully “surrendered” it. In those precious years of undergrad, I experienced the freedom found in surrendering to the grace of God, the beauty of vulnerability, and the power of learning to fly again.
Then, nearly four years to the day the doctor said it was over, I found myself sitting onstage, performing at Carnegie Hall. When I turned to the audience to see a standing ovation, I burst into tears, because I remembered the words, “With You I can attack a barrier, and with my God I can leap over a wall.”-Psalm 18:29
Today, despite the formalities infused in classical music, I get to use the concert stage as a platform to share my story and encourage others to seek help and experience the peace of God. I perform and travel internationally as a soloist and chamber musician, frequently being sought after to premiere avant-garde piano works, and I am actively involved in youth and collegiate ministry. Although healing is an ongoing process, by the hand of God’s work in my life, the label of “Victim” has been replaced with “Victorious,” “Hopeless” has been covered by “Confidence,” and what was “Impossible” is now a living, breathing, walking “Miracle.”