Updated: Feb 14, 2021
There is no Jesus-loving artist I know of that I respect more than Stephanie Brooks. We met early on in our professional careers, a decade ago now. We shared a crazy contract on a foreign continent that forever bonded us with its highs and lows, curveballs and Costco trips.
Stephanie is one of my favorite people. She’s supportive but not at the expense of truth and conviction. She’s down to party but not at the expense of grieving the treasured deposit God has left inside of her of His own spirit. She’s intentional. And she’s a foodie. Oh, she’s the foodiest! Nobody appreciates food and the experience of food like she does.
Stephanie grew up in a blended home filled with the bittersweetness that comes when brokenness and grace co-exist. Her faith in Jesus became her foundation and hope in adolescence and enabled her to become an anchor for her family and her friends from an early age. One of the most captivating and well-trained dancers I know, her career quickly took off after our humble little contract together. Skill, hard work and favor got her an agent and a steady line of regional, cruise and national tour contracts.
She has picked up friends and connections all along the way, becoming for others that same anchor she is for me. When praying about her purpose on each contract she accepts, she listens for God to tell her the ‘who,’ understanding that for God, people matter most. “I think my bus partner is one of the reasons God had me re-sign this contract.” “I’ve been trying to find a service project for every place our tour sits down at for a few days.” “I got this necklace to remind me to pray for my tour roommate.” And once Steph is your friend, she’s always going to be your friend. One of the Koreans we had worked with on our contract was in New York City several years later and Steph hosted her, taking time off to show her around and having snacks ready for her from the local Korean market so she’d feel more at home.
For ten years I’ve watched Stephanie keep her heart and eyes and ears fixed on Jesus. So much so that when praying about whether to take another lucrative cruise ship contract, she obeyed when she felt God tell her no, even though she wanted to take it and the financial security that would come with it. Later, she told me about how God was helping her to understand that in not taking that particular contract at that particular time, He had been protecting her from a few temptations that she could now acknowledge had begun to wear her down.
She wrestles with fear and worry when she doesn’t have her next contract lined up just like me and every other artist I know do, but what I admire about her is that it doesn’t send her into grab-bag mode, grasping at the first prospect that turns up. I’ve watched her pray about and then turn down two national tours that were offered to her back-to-back. She didn’t understand why she had to turn them down but she did it anyway, familiar enough with God’s voice through practice, habit and time to trust she was hearing Him. A few days later, a third offer came in that turned out to be even more right for her than the first two offers had been.
I’ve also watched her prayerfully turn down coveted New York City rent-controlled apartments without any other prospects lined up and then get invited to move into a beautiful upper west side brownstone for free!
What’s her secret? From what I’ve seen, it’s obedience. Prayerful obedience. She waits until she hears what God has to say (or not say) to her and then she does her best to move forward in unwavering faith. She’s tempted – for sure – to second guess if she heard God correctly, but she doesn’t give into that uncertainty. She chooses to trust that Jesus will cover her.
I will behave myself wisely and give heed to the blameless way…I will set no base or wicked thing before my eyes…A perverse heart shall depart from me…they who walk blamelessly, they shall minister to me… – Psalm 101