By Brandy Wallner
God's Brave Women - Brandy's Story
We think that bravery is understanding exactly what to do in a crisis. We imagine ourselves the capable protagonist of our own life stories, rising to any occasion. All the major pop-anthems that we belt at the top of our lungs confirm our inner, “You go girl!”
But what if we aren’t capable of everything those songs tell us? What if the real protagonist of our story stands waiting for us to finally just – give everything to Him?
"But what if we aren’t capable of everything those songs tell us? What if the real protagonist of our story stands waiting for us to finally just – give everything to Him?"
My story of bravery is about giving things over to the Lord.
After waiting seemingly forever to find “my person,” Kevin and I were married while the sun set one evening in July 2015. Our first year of marriage was unlike what everyone says about the first year being the hardest. For us…it wasn’t! We laughed a lot, were affectionate with each other, and our fights were minor.
A year and a half later, everything changed.
The sounds of typical home life started setting Kevin on edge. Pots & pans being removed from the cupboards, my chewing, throat clearing. Birds chirping, the neighbor coming up the stairs to his apartment, kids playing outside. And the whistle of the train that ran about 2 blocks from our apartment was like the call of Satan! My out-going husband suddenly wanted nothing more than to be alone.
I started walking on egg-shells in my home and began making myself as small as I could.
Over the next 18 months, his noise sensitivity, or Misophonia, heightened. We moved out of the apartment that I loved because the train whistle was causing Kevin so much anxiety.
We saw therapists, sought counsel from our pastor and prayer from the elders. Everything from spiritual attacks to possible asbestos poisoning from the renovations we'd done on his new business space were hypothesized!
Eventually, frustrated by a lack of progress, Kevin stopped going to therapy. Which in turn, frustrated me. Therapy was what all the experts recommended and he was just quitting! And none of his prescribed meds seemed to be doing anything for him either. Maybe the diagnosis was off? Maybe there was some issue of sin that I didn’t know about? My brain ran wild with speculation.
Kevin wore headphones everywhere. Even in our house. We ate dinner in separate rooms. And he confessed to me that he was having thoughts of suicide…
A year into what felt like madness, life was 100% out of control. And I needed to start taking it back.
I read articles, books and looked for therapists in other parts of the country who would be willing to do video sessions. But Kevin was exhausted and scarily close to giving up completely.
There were certain therapeutic techniques for coping with stress & anxiety that had been successful with some people experiencing Misophonia, so I demanded that he do progressive-muscle relaxation every night. Demanding that someone relax sounds pretty relaxing, right?
In my desire for normalcy, I overlooked my husband’s feelings. I am a fixer, and this fixer wanted her husband back. So, instead of offering comfort, I was making him feel like one giant problem. Every day he drew farther away from me.
One weekend in 2018, my grandfather was hospitalized after having had a stroke. I wanted the comfort of my husband while I visited. And he tried – but the beeping monitors and bustle of the staff had him turning right back around and leaving within 2 minutes. I was alone. The next day, while grabbing lunch, he needed me to stand in line to order at the restaurant. He couldn’t be there – it was too much. I had to do it… just like I had to do everything else.
It was like someone flipped on a neon sign that read, “You are absolutely, 100% alone.”
"It was like someone flipped on a neon sign that read, “You are absolutely, 100% alone.”
I came completely unglued, unleashing every frustration on my poor husband in a barrage of angry words. I was exhausted from what felt like trying to haul the both of us up a mountain for over a year.
After that, Kevin did not speak to me for over a week. He left for work before I woke and would wait as long as possible to come home at night. He wouldn’t answer my texts or calls. He was extremely hurt. Meanwhile, I was having panic attacks in my car.
I had arrived at the end of myself.
My prayers had seemingly gone unanswered. And in my mind, we were probably done.
The Holy Spirit prompted me to read the book of Job. Nobody wants to read Job! But I did anyway, and I settled upon a passage where Job’s friends were speaking. They pointed accusatory fingers – suggesting that Job must’ve “done something” to bring on the tragedies that had befallen him
It was like the Lord held up a mirror. This was how my husband saw me! As an accusing friend! Though I’d never said the words, “This must be your fault somehow,” all the ways that I was acting indicated that maybe I blamed him.
I wept over all the pain I must’ve caused Kevin in my belief that I had to do it all on my own; that it was “up to me” to fix things.
"As a wife, I was right to do battle for him, but the kind of battle that needed waging was not made up of frantic research and demanding relaxation. No, it was the kind that went from room to room with Bible in hand, praying over each space. The kind that fell to her knees in worship to God."
As a wife, I was right to do battle for him, but the kind of battle that needed waging was not made up of frantic research and demanding relaxation. No, it was the kind that went from room to room with Bible in hand, praying over each space. The kind that fell to her knees in worship to God. The kind, that when frustrated on the couch at night, silently prayed instead of allowing herself to silently stew and grow bitter. These were the battle plans required for the fight.
Sisters, though my husband is now living free of symptoms – praise God – they did not dissipate overnight. But I can tell you what did happen almost overnight… there was a shift in our home. Because my demeanor was different, so was Kevin’s. Even though the symptoms were all still there – Kevin began making overtures of kindness towards me. He suddenly began taking my feelings into consideration. It felt like, for the first time, that we were a team again.
And that was everything.
I suppose you could read this story and see bravery in the way I approached things from the beginning. Researching, finding therapists… all of that. But I will tell you that for me personally, those were natural things to do. It felt more exhausting than brave.
"For me, bravery was found in letting go. It was found in trusting that the Lord would do what I couldn’t."
For me, bravery was found in letting go. It was found in trusting that the Lord would do what I couldn’t. Trusting that the Lord would hold me when my husband couldn’t. Trusting that the Lord Himself is the protagonist of my story.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Brandy Wallner is a freelance writer with a passion for helping people look for God in their lives. She is the founder, of the soon to be launched, A Good Conversation Dinner ministry and lives with her amazing husband in Southern California. She is a connoisseur of the finer things, like nachos and donuts and she owns a successful personal training business – you do the math.