Jen Bricker is one of the most inspirational women of our day. We got to sit down with her and talk about how God has used her life as a living testimony for his glory! Check out the interview below!
1. Hi Jen! Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born without legs. I was left at the hospital and put up for adoption. I was adopted, not by the perfect family, but the perfect family for me. I grew up in the middle of Nowhere, Illinois. My parents and community treated me normally which all started with my parents. They really just let me do whatever I asked them. I would say, “I want to play softball or volleyball without a wheelchair or prosthetic.” And they would let me. There was not different treatment at school by friends, coaches, or teachers. Growing up in the middle of nowhere everyone always knew me. With sports it was what I wanted to do and I never thought I couldn’t. It was what my friends were doing so why would I do it in a wheelchair. I got a lot of press, especially when I competed in power tumbling, because doing it without legs had never been done before. I didn’t get why it was such a big a deal. As a child, I never understood why people thought I was different or even an inspiration.
2. Did you ever experience a coach or a teacher that wasn’t exactly sure how to handle your disability?
I don’t think so. I just think my community was very accepting. Sometimes, and especially with my power tumbling coach, they would say, “I have never experienced this and I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I am going to try.” It was just willingness from them and I had the determination to do the rest.
3. Where did gymnastics and tumbling lead you?
I did it for 4 years along with other sports. Power tumbling was my favorite. But then, I stopped to have a life during the teen years. After that, I graduated from high school and got an internship with Disney World, so I moved to Florida. At that point I had not played any sports for 4-5 years. I had gained some weight and was really out of shape. At Disney I started noticing all of the performers and really thought I wanted to do what they were doing.
I knew I could do it. I just needed someone to teach me. I ended up meeting a guy named Nate that ended up being my partner. He taught me how to be an aerialist and how to walk on stilts. We also practiced tumbling and jumping on trampolines. We were putting together an aerialist routine but also realized we should put together a trampoline act on 12 x 14 competitive trampoline. The routine we put together was very advanced and technical. We eventually performed that routine as a featured act on the Britney Spears tour all over the world. That was my open door to performing. Before that tour, everyone had been afraid to hire me because it had never been done. They didn’t know what people would think or how audiences would react. The tour blew the doors wide open for performing.
4. It sounds like you were in a position where life had taken a turn. You went from a life where you had determination and those around you were letting you try, to a life where you had determination but people were hesitant and not willing to walk beside you. What are some things you leaned on while you were waiting for the “big break” of the Britney Tour or even that you lean on in your hard days now?
My faith is everything. It’s my foundation, my purpose, and the bigger picture. I feel like God has given me as a vessel to reach people, so in all things that I do it’s never self-driven. It’s never all about me. If it had been all about me I would have burned out. I also did things because I loved it. It brought me joy, but more importantly it was for what it did for other people all over the world. I was doing something that had never been done and it opened doors for others.
5. What are some words of advice to girls who don’t have confidence or understand where their worth comes from?
First, they need to look at the scripture that tells them where their worth comes from. When I was dealing with body dysmorphia I was obsessed with being thin and then I got very thin. It took 3 years to come out of it and it was rough. It was a battle every time I looked in the mirror. I had to cover them up. It was a very low time. I felt fat even when I was a size 00. It didn’t matter what anyone said, I had my own demons. It took repeating scriptures every day and over riding my thoughts with them because I knew my thoughts were lies. I repeated the truths out loud all the time to remember my worth and what is real. I know my triggers now and I avoid those things. I choose to feel pretty . We have to be ok with a journey and not an overnight magic pill.
Written by: Heather