By Stephanie Broersma
God's Brave Women - Stephanie's Story
I struggle relating to the term brave, especially when my fear almost stole the stunning views around me.
My body was frozen in fear, chest tightening and hands shaking uncontrollably as they gripped the sides of the basket. We were gliding through air over a thousand feet above ground. My family beamed with smiles as they looked down, shifted from side to side as our pilot shot another long breath of hot air into the magnificent balloon.
I don’t like heights. I once had a stranger rescue me by grabbing my hand while running through the Utah canyons and scaling a rock to get to the connecting trail for a three-day race. My eyes were not capable of looking down or up without getting dizzy from the sheer cliffs of Bryce Canyon. Blocking others from running further, a gentleman firmly grabbed my hand and stayed in grip until we found the wider trail.
Yet, here I was again, in a panicked situation with my family, flying above the forest with my eyes locked on the horizon, knees slightly bent to prevent a full collapse of my terrified body. The hands of my family covered mine throughout the flight.
There are much worse-off times in my life where the fear swirling around should have put me in the fetal position, rocking back and forth, crying for the emotional pain to disappear.
When my husband flipped our marriage upside down through confession, my feet had no solid ground to stand on. Everything I had known prior felt like a nuance of lies, smothered in gifts and pleasantries all to cover-up some facade of a marriage I thought to be valued, honored, and kept unadulterated between my husband and I. A secret kept silent for ten years stole any sense of connection in our seven years of being husband and wife. The sting of pornography and affairs were in competition for my husband’s heart.
Brave, I was not. Broken was a more appropriate term to define my shattered heart.
"A secret kept silent for ten years stole any sense of connection in our seven years of being husband and wife. The sting of pornography and affairs were in competition for my husband’s heart. Brave, I was not. Broken was a more appropriate term to define my shattered heart."
With my defeated hands on God’s Word, I managed to pull myself up off the floor and at first, just get to my knees to ask God, “What next?”
One by one, God gave me the strength to navigate through another minute of the most excruciating, emotional pain I’ve ever experienced. My husband was there to witness the torment of emotions that raged through every thought, tear, and conversation we shared. After a brief separation, we started the ugly process of healing our horribly broken marriage. Fear was very present through this uncomfortable process, but so was hope.
"One by one, God gave me the strength to navigate through another minute of the most excruciating, emotional pain I’ve ever experienced... Fear was very present through this uncomfortable process, but so was hope."
Hope is often a Christian term tossed around like a football on Friday nights. The overuse of the word sometimes has the Charlie Brown effect causing those within ear-shot to tune out any mention of the sentiment. I once had a bride tell me it was a cruel joke to speak the word hope after she too, was experiencing betrayal in her decades long marriage.
A dear friend shared a similar cruel joke with me days after my older sister passed away from a ten year battle with breast cancer. “Praise God we have hope she’s with Jesus and free of any disease now.” I will never disagree with that, but I felt my sisters hand go cold in mine; I witnessed my parents see their daughter take her last breath. My heart knew she was immediately with Jesus. What I needed to hear was permission to feel loss and the fear of facing unwelcome, immense grief. Not the same type of grief processing the betrayal in my marriage, but the type you can’t wake from the dead.
"What I needed to hear was permission to feel loss and the fear of facing unwelcome, immense grief."
Years later, I’ve had many tell me I’m brave. Again, I question the description as clearly, I still struggle with the term. Perhaps my perspective of being brave is tainted by my ability to separate fear from courage. Is it possible to be brave and fearful at the same time?
"Perhaps my perspective of being brave is tainted by my ability to separate fear from courage. Is it possible to be brave and fearful at the same time?"
As our family drove away from the early morning, mid-air excursion, they mocked my shaking hands and lack of ease they all had in a bucket with no seatbelts or straps carrying us ten miles across the sunrise skies. I found myself in a different place. A place of courage for not allowing fear to take me to my knees. A content place knowing that I faced an overwhelming fear and pushed through the terrifying, yet beautiful ride thousands of feet high.
And that wasn’t the first time I faced fear.
I faced fear through confession.
I faced fear through death.
I faced fear through brokenness.
I faced fear through confusion.
I faced fear through adoption trauma.
I faced fear through personal health.
I faced fear through depression.
I faced fear through doubt.
And I know I can face it again, because truth be told… with God I am brave.
"And that wasn’t the first time I faced fear... And I know I can face it again, because truth be told… with God I am brave."
“So cheer up! Take courage, all you who love Him. Wait for Him to break through for you, all who trust in Him.” (Psalm 31:24 TPT)
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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Stephanie Broersma is a living example of how God brings beauty from ashes in the lives of His children. Married since 2002, she and her husband, Tim, have walked through the valley of marital betrayal and come out the other side stronger, more in love, and fully devoted to Christ. She now heads Reclaimed Ministry, an organization that seeks to help other broken brides recover from the pain and devastation of marital infidelity. Stephanie and her husband have four children, and live in the Northwest pocket of Washington state.