Thursday, May 10, 2012

get outside the box!

I have always had a naturally free-spirited personality. Especially through junior high and high school, I was often the loudest and most socially uninhibited among my group of friends. Under the right circumstances, I felt nearly invincible to unapologetically be who I was. Despite some struggles with anxiety and depression, which I kept pretty quiet (and plan to address with more in-depth future posts), I was an overall bubbly and outgoing person. Slowly, over time, I lost a lot of that, starting with an unexpectedly difficult freshman year of college. Recently I've noticed a shift, and I feel some of those old qualities coming back.

I've been thinking a lot about this cycle, and while there is no magical moment of transformation to pinpoint, I believe God has been teaching me a lot about maturity and confidence. Let me first say that I am by no means a completely confident and mature person all the time. If there's anything I know for sure, it's that I often do fall short in these areas. By the grace of God, I have learned a lot in the last few years, and I am excited about what God is continuing to teach me.

A few weeks ago while we were doing music for a youth retreat, the speaker showed a TED video to the kids about leaders. There was a guy dancing alone in the midst of a large group. After some time, another person joined in and by the end of the clip there was a large group dancing. The TED speaker pointed out that leadership isn't just about being the first to do something, and that the underrated leaders are often those who follow when they see something worth taking a chance on. It takes confidence to be a lone crazy dancer. It also takes confidence to be the second or third crazy dancer! The speaker pointed out that by the end, those who weren't dancing were now the "odd" ones. Eventually, most people get on board with a great idea.

Although hipsters around the world may disagree, there's no shame in not being the first to discover and trumpet something great. However, many times it is fear stopping us from getting on board with or sharing our own great (but uncomfortable or unpopular) ideas. Instead of opening ourselves up to seeing God work in amazing ways, getting a chance to be part of something we are passionate about, and growing exponentially as a result, we often sit back and feel frustrated, miserable, bored, or envious of others. Sometimes we step out of our comfort zones, but only by a fraction of what we feel we could or should. Other times we go ahead and make strides, apologizing all the way. I am guilty of all these things at various times, but I particularly struggle with carrying an apologetic attitude and taking "baby steps" when I should be trying to move mountains!

When I first started as a musician, I was literally apologizing or acting apologetic all the time. Although some people may not have noticed, others were probably wondering why I was so insecure and why I was onstage if I didn't feel like I had a right to be there. While I'm sure I still do this sometimes, in the last four years I have grown comfortable with the position God has given me as an artist, and I have become someone who can approach the stage with confidence and not second guess everything that I do professionally. I have never not wanted to be there, but I know now that God truly does have me there intentionally and for a reason! As I have gained business and musical experience, I am becoming bolder about moving forward in life on the path God has set before me.

Looking back, I have made more than one decision that went against popular or common opinion. From getting married at 19, dropping out of school to make my first CD, leaving Jordan's steady paycheck behind to become full-time musicians, and adding to our family while we were still independent artists, God has taught our family a lot about trusting him. Being a mom has deepened my level of confidence more than almost anything else, because as a parent you are sifting through the advice and opinions of thousands to find what works best for your family and matches up to the truth of Scripture. When we make decisions based on what is true, right, and godly, there is no reason to fear. I believe that is what lies at the heart of this shift―that I am truly learning to be dependent on God and to trust in his faithfulness to me.

I can't help but hear in my mind the words of the old hymn 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,
"Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! How I've proved him o'er and o'er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more.
I have "proved" Jesus through my trial and error, or rather, he has so graciously proven himself to me out of love. He cares so much for us, and he is so willing to show his faithfulness at every moment. When I look back on my life, each of the most rewarding and enriching experiences have been outside my comfort zone in some way. If we allow ourselves to be boxed in by what is popular, comfortable, current, or widely accepted, we will miss out on the most amazing experiences, growth opportunities, and probably some great stories as well! I hope you'll be encouraged to "get outside the box" in the areas God is pressing upon your heart and to stay motivated if you're in the midst of such a transition. I'd love to hear all of your stories and experiences and what God has been teaching you about trusting him!


  1. Thanks for your transparency and for sharing these thoughts Jessa. Yes, as Christians, God has given us spiritual gifts and talents and "every good and perfect gift" comes from our Father in Heaven. Having grown up with a works-based faith and being born again in my late twenties, it took me a little while to process the application of the passage in James: "faith without works is dead." Then, after I was saved for a few years, I realized that God calls us to give Him our firstfruits and the parable of the four types of seeds (God's Word-The Bible) is about bearing fruit for Him as that fourth soil.

    So, my personal experience of stepping out in faith is related to being saved due to the biblical messages "behind the songs" in Christian music and deciding to pursue writing Chrisitan music reviews and devotionals. You can read about my story here:

    As you say in your post Jessa: "When we make decisions based on what is true, right, and godly, there is no reason to fear." Amen!

    God bless!

    1. It's so great to hear more about why you're so passionate about what you do Kevin! I know you have mentioned your story of salvation during our conversations, but I appreciate you sharing the link and going more in depth. As an artist, knowing that music truly does reach people's hearts with the message of Jesus Christ is such a blessing and encouragement to continue writing and sharing the music. It's awesome to have someone like you advocating for artists to share WHY they write and what the stories behind the songs really are!