Kay Bruner

Kay Bruner

Kay Bruner

I came to Wine, Women and Jesus in the fall of 2014 after another season of trauma and devastation. 

I didn’t have the emotional capacity to go to church, but I thought maybe I’d be okay in a Bible study at a wine bar.  Jackie told me that I had a big “Do not talk to me” sign on my head when I first showed up, and it was true.  I wasn’t exactly in a good place with church and I was pretty scared of Christians in general, but I knew I needed to be with Jesus.  And I needed to be with people who were thinking about what it really, truly means to be with Jesus in our world today, in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

“If I had to pick a moment that makes the story all hang together, it’s this one….

Me, on a Sunday morning, standing in the middle of a gravel road, on a hill in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

If that moment were a painting, it would be entitled, “Done.”

And, if that painting were hung in a gallery, people would look at it and wonder why anyone would choose to paint something so mundane as a 30-something missionary standing in the middle of a gravel road, on a hill, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

But, as the subject of that painting, I would tell you that it was a watershed moment.  The Continental Divide of my life.  When everything before went one way, and everything after went another.

It’s funny.  I remember so very little about that morning…

I don’t remember what I fixed for breakfast.  I don’t remember if the kids had trouble finding clean Sunday clothes.  I don’t remember what Andy said or didn’t say to me.

I just remember leaving the house, walking down toward the meeting house.  I remember the high curve of the hill on my left, the gravel under my feet, and Karen’s front door, down to my right.

And I remember what I said: “I can’t do this anymore.”

And I just stopped in the middle of the road and stood there.


That’s the introduction to my memoir, As Soon As I Fell.

It’s my story of having a nervous breakdown as a missionary overseas.  All the ingredients that went into the breakdown are in the story—my idea that I had to do everything perfectly so that God and other people could love me, the marriage that didn’t work, the husband who, turns out, was looking at quite a lot of porn and couldn’t stop. 

I’ve also tried to tell the story of what brought me and Andy up out of the pit and into the sunlight again.  (Short answer:  Love.  Also, egalitarian marriage and lots of bubble baths.)

I have a post-it note stuck on the corner of my computer screen with this quote from Nelson Mandela:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Real freedom for me has to include respecting and enhancing the freedom of others, because we are all part of each other.  So, this is what I have:  This story of failure and breakdown and recovery and redemption.  I’m a counselor in private practice and a writer (I blog at kaybruner.com). I share my story with others, and it turns out to be a good thing!


To purchase a copy of Kay’s book, click here for As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir.

Marcella Project