Denise Bridges: Returning to Her First Love
By Gorman Woodfin
The 700 Club
In the 1990s, Denise Bridges was a highly sought-after runway and print model in the San Francisco area. With her success and confident stride, no one realized the pain she experienced as a child.
“My dad actually packed his things and left,” she tells The 700 Club. “My parents went through an ugly divorce. I felt like my life was just turning upside down, and I had no control over it.”
In her teen years, she dealt with her pain the only way she knew how.
“I found myself just clinging to different vices that made me feel happy. I began to smoke cigarettes. I started smoking pot and drinking. Those things temporarily were an escape for me.”
She said she felt God couldn’t help her, even though when she was a little girl she’d accepted Jesus into her heart.
“My mom started going to church when I was about five, telling me that Jesus loves me and that He died on the cross for my sins. I was asking her questions about heaven. When I was six years old, I knelt down with her and received Jesus in my heart.”
As a young woman, Denise found acceptance and success as a model. But both came at a price.
“I just became totally wrapped up in what I look like and thought that was my self-worth. Not too long after that, [I] developed a nasty eating disorder, bulimia, in my efforts to just stay thin.”
She was caught in a vicious cycle.
“What I would do is I would binge on food, just uncontrollably. Then I would work out the whole next week, probably three to four hours a day. I would calculate every single calorie that I consumed during my binge. I would calculate every single calorie I burned at the gym, and I would always make it come out to be even at the end.”
Denise also had a fairy tale view of love.
“I thought that there was this Prince Charming out there that would sweep me off my feet and just fulfill all those deepest emotional needs and the things I guess I didn’t have as a child.”
Denise married, but marriage didn’t fill the emptiness. For a time she returned to her Christian roots.
“I rededicated my life to the Lord. Then five years later, I fell into some deep sin.”
Her marriage fell apart when she had an affair and became pregnant.
“That was a real wake-up call for me from God. Be sure your sin will find you out. God wasn’t going to allow me to hide and brought it out for the whole world to see.”
Denise went to her husband and confessed.
“At that point, I had to face my sin and what I did. I had to go back to my church and I did whatever I could to make it right. I asked for forgiveness.”
After all attempts to reconcile failed, the couple divorced. Later Denise married the man she had the affair with.
“I remember for a couple years after that I felt just completely overwhelmed with guilt and regret, really feeling as though my life was done. As far as for God, I felt like it was just over. I messed up so bad that I was done for.”
Totally broken by her past, she cried out to God for help.
“I was just praying to God and I remember crying out to Him. I am just so overwhelmed and so burdened with this. My oldest daughter’s going to be messed up. My consequences are overwhelming for me, and I can’t handle this.”
Denise says God spoke directly to her heart.
“It was like He said, 'Let it go. You’ve held onto this for so long. I have forgiven you. As far as the east is from the west, it’s gone. Why are you still holding on to it?' At that point, I just wept and I just gave it over to the Lord. I thought, how can this be turned into something good? 'Lord, I’m going to trust You. I don’t know what You’re doing, but I’m going to trust You.'"
Step by step she started to heal.
Today, Denise leads worship at her church and writes songs about how God can heal the broken pieces in your life. She and her husband have three beautiful children.
Denise says she now knows what true love really is.
“I’ve come to learn that God’s love is deep. It’s lasting. It’s a 1 Corinthians 13 love. It is sacrificial love. It’s loving when you don’t feel like it sometimes. It goes deep, and it grows over time. The biggest blessing is just how God turned everything from my past, my hurts, my regrets, and just how He’s made all things beautiful like it says in Ecclesiastes in His time. It just blows my mind where I’m at today, where God has brought me.”
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