Earlier this week I had the pleasure of getting candid on air with Parker J. Cole on WPJC 104.5. It was a ton of fun chatting it up with her and in lieu of a regular blog post, I wanted to share our candid conversation with you. You can read the transcript, or scroll to the bottom to listen to the replay.
Parker: Hi and welcome to another edition of The Write Stuff. I’m the queen of Tuesday nights, Parker J. and thank you so much for joining me! We are going to be talking very candidly today with the founder of the Candidly Christian movement, Heather Hart.
Let me tell you, when we talk about being people of faith, especially followers of Christ, we have to understand that we have to be real about this walk, and be candid about it. Which is why we are talking about this today. Heather’s new book, called Candid Conversations, is available now on Amazon.com, and it’s already getting rave reviews. And I suspect the reason why it’s getting so many good reviews is because people are keeping it real. They like the fact that the women who have contributed stories to this book, are being honest, open and transparent. And there’s a certain level of vulnerability that comes with that, but with that vulnerability comes strength.
So, we are going to be talking to Heather today about Candid Conversations, and about Candidly Christian and what it means to be candid and what it means to be open about the Christian walk. Because like she says, even though we are Christians, life isn’t always sunshine and chocolates. Would that it was, but it’s not. And because of that we have a double responsibility to be honest about it, because when we become followers of Christ, it doesn’t mean that things get easier, it doesn’t mean that things get harder. What does get easier is that we learn over time to give all of our cares and cast them onto the Lord.
You know, the thing about being a Christian is that people often think that we are self-righteous, that we’re prejudice, that we’re bigots, that we are backward. That we think we are supposed to be so perfect that everyone else is beneath us. And these are misconceptions that people have about Christianity, maybe because over the years Christians have given the Word of God and the Lord a bad name through their actions. Not through anything God has done, but through their actions.
And so what I am really excited about with Candid Conversations and the Candidly Christian movement, what I’m really excited about is that we are asking Christians to be candid about this walk with Christ. As I was reading Candid Conversations, which is the book that we are highlighting today, I was really struck at the vulnerability that a lot of the women shared in this book. And a few of them really struck at home to me.
And so without further ado, I want to introduce our guest co-host and contributor today, Heather Hart. Heather, how are you doing today?
Heather: I’m doing great, thank you.
Parker: I am so glad you are taking time out of your schedule to be with us today. Really excited about the show. I remember when we scheduled this some time ago, I was looking forward to it and then you sent me the book and I had an opportunity to read it. Just really thrilled about talking about Candid Conversations and the Candidly Christian movement in general. Really excited about that. But people may be listening who don’t know who you are. So go ahead and tell us who you are in your own words.
Heather: The first thing you need to know about me is that I don’t have it all together… and I’m okay with that. While I am constantly striving to be more like Christ, I know that He has me covered when I fail. That’s the essence gospel (and I LOVE it!!)
I’m an imperfect mom, but I love my kids like crazy. They might not always have their hair brushed or be the most well-behaved kids on the block, but I just hope I am pointing them to Jesus.
I have been writing for over a decade, have contributed to 24 books and I am married to my biggest fan.
Parker: I like how you said, “you know, I don’t have it all together.” That is one of the hardest things to say as people because we wanna project a certain façade. We wanna project, “Hey, I’ve got it going on.” We have people who call themselves experts in various fields, we have people who say, “I know what I’m talking about, I can take you from .0 to .2 million.” You know we have these people who are always projecting these certain things about themselves. And what you just said is that guess what, I don’t have it all together. Why do you think that is important for our listeners to know as we continue and start to delve into our conversation? Why is it important for them to know that?
Heather: Because so many of us feel like we have to portray that and it is exhausting. And we feel like we don’t measure up to other people and we feel like we are going to be found out and we are going to let other people down. When in reality, everyone else is feeling the exact same way. And when we realize that everyone else is in the exact same boat we are, there’s freedom there.
If we would just all join forces and say, “hey, I’m right there with you.” We would all be so much stronger.If we would just all join forces and say, "hey, I'm right there with you." We would all be so much stronger. Click To Tweet
Parker: That will work some miracle for someone today, so if you’re listening in and you wanna have a candid conversation with us, make sure you call in that’s 646-668-8485 and press 1 we definitely want to hear from you.
Now, you’ve been on the show before, it’s been a while since you’ve been on the show, but go ahead, how have things been since the last time you were here?
Heather: Oh Parker, that is a loaded question! Last July I came down with horrible migraines and I spent the better part of last year in and out of the hospital, just clinging to Jesus because my head hurt so bad. You know, I am just finally starting to recover, but it’s been a really rough year and it’s by God’s grace that I even got this book published. So, it’s been rough.
Parker: You know, I have suffered from migraines in the past, and when I suffer from them it’s like, just kill me. I hate to say it like that, but they are so painful. But you’re like, “Lord, take me home or help make it go away.” Because we can’t live like this. You know. I totally understand what it’s like to have those migraines. I don’t have them chronically like some people have, but when I get them, I’m out for the count. And I tell people, “Hand me a sledge-hammer and just knock it out.” That’s how painful it is. I know some people out there deal with chronic migraines all the time, I can’t even begin to imagine, because when I get them occasionally, I want to… “Take me home, Lord.” It is what it is.
Parker: I can’t live like this, but I know what it’s like to deal with migraines. So, I definitely don’t just sympathise with you, I empathise with you. But I’m glad that the Lord is bringing you through it. And you still got this book Candid Conversations out. And this book is phenomenal. As we start to delve into this book, I really think our listeners are going to benefit from it because of the fact that we are being so candid about it.
But one of the things I do want to ask you as we begin our conversation is this, should Christians be held to a higher standard than the world? What’s your thoughts about that?
Heather: I don’t know that I would say we are held to a higher standard, but we are held to a different standard. I don’t think it’s fair to expect Christian behavior from non-Christians. When we do that, all we get is people who look like Christians on the outside but are still lost souls. We are getting essentially white-washed tombs. But once we come into a saving relationship with Jesus everything changes.
It’s not that we have to accept Jesus and follow certain standards to get into heaven, but when we are in a relationship with Jesus, that changes our hearts and we want to live a life that pleases Him, and we understand that He knows what’s best for us. And we want to follow Him.
It’s not really about standards at all, but about having a love for Jesus that changes your heart and your life.
Parker: So, what do we mean when we say we are called to righteousness? And I want to kind of preface this with some ideas that I had. I understand what you mean when you say we are called to a different standard and it’s not anything that we do, it’s who we have a relationship with, which is Christ, and I understand that. But we are called to righteousness, so I wanna make sure that we understand what does that mean for followers of Christ as we have these candid conversations about being a Christian.
Heather: Absolutely, I am a firm believer that our righteousness comes from Jesus. So, none of us can hope to be righteous on our own. We simply can’t do it. But, when we turn to Jesus, all of our sins and shortcomings are covered by His blood and His righteousness becomes ours. When God looks at us, He no longer sees our failures, He sees that we belong to Jesus, and that’s all we need. But our life does change. We don’t want to go out and get drunk on a Saturday night. We want to be a person that God finds holy. We just want to be different.
It’s something you can’t even put into words, your whole life just changes.
Parker: I like that because, when we say we want to be different, that means because of our relationship with Christ it starts to change us from the inside out. And that’s why there is nothing we can do to get to God. He did everything, there’s nothing we can do to get to God.
Now these things may seem “Christianity 101,” but they play a very important part in this book, Candid Conversations. And that’s why we’re asking this question. Now, when you say you wanna do something, we wanna do right because of our relationship with Christ, so does righteousness become a plethora of do’s and don’ts?
And I think this is important because there are some atheists who have some very high moral standards, and there are some Christians who have some horrible moral standards, and we know that. So tell us about that and put some clarity into this question I’m asking.
Heather: I don’t see righteousness or being in a relationship with Jesus as a list of do’s and don’ts at all. Loving Jesus changes your life. But accepting Christ isn’t about following a list of rules. I think when we start to impose rules other Christians we lose site of the heart of the gospel and end up driving a wedge between those very people and Jesus.
The Pharisee’s are the one’s in the Bible who were constantly judging people for what they did or didn’t do. They were the one’s saying, “Oh, you’re eating grain on the Sabbath…” (Matthew 12:2) or whatever. They were the ones who were like, “Wait, what are you doing?! That’s not okay!” Putting more stock in man-made traditions than in the love of Jesus is a dangerous place to be in.Putting more stock in man-made traditions than in the love of Jesus is a dangerous place to be in. Click To Tweet
You know, all Jesus said was love God and love others, that’s what He said and that’s the gospel right there. And as long as you love Jesus, that’s your starting point right there and God will work it out from there.
Parker: I like how you said that, “When you put more stock on man-made traditions than Jesus, that’s a dangerous place to be.” And I agree with that, because sometimes we get so caught up in what we think God wants from us, that we forget to ask Him what He wants from us. That’s why He wants us to have a prayer life and have devotion time study time with Him.
Like one thing that happens in the book, you mentioned it Heather, you said, “My quiet place is messy.” It’s your quiet place, you have your Bible, but there are crayons over here, toys over here, there are notebooks and papers and pens, you know. Someone can look at that and say, “No. Your quiet place with the Lord should be perfectly clear. No debris. No anything.” But like you just said, you’re a mom, you’re a wife, and you have a house to take care of. There’s a lot of things going on.
So man-made would say, “Make sure you cover the floor with white carpet, and then put glitter on it. And then after you put glitter on it, make sure you put a candle in the highest point of your house so the light can shine down on you.” You know you want all these little silly things that don’t really mean anything because Christ just wants a relationship with you. When you have that relationship with Christ it’s about you and Him. And I like that you put that in the book, Candid Conversations, because these man-made traditions can be so detrimental and hinder our relationship with Christ.
Correct me if I’m wrong, Heather. How would you expand on that?
Heather: No, absolutely. I wrote a blog post a long time ago. And this wasn’t in the book, but having a quiet time, multi-tasking your quiet time is more important than having it at a certain time of day. You know, if you have to multi-task your quiet time, that’s more important than making sure you get it in every morning at 4 am if you can’t do that. Because you know, I was a mother, and I’ve got four children, and two of them are twins and I’ve got twin girls that were toddlers at the time. And they didn’t sleep for the first five years of their life. I mean, I was a tired momma. So I didn’t get to sit down with my Bible and a cup of coffee, and have that quiet time for a really long time. So I would have my quiet time when I was washing the dishes.
And so I wrote a blog post about that, and I got attacked for it. They were like, “no, you need to make sure you have that time, that’s important.” And I was like, “I can’t. If I have to multi-task it to get it, that is so much more important than… if I have to sit down and have it, it’s not going to happen.” Multi-tasking it is better than skipping it altogether. And there are some seasons of life where that happens.
Parker: I remember there was a lady I had on my show a while ago, and she mentioned something similar to that. She grew up with a legalistic faith and she remembered how they would say how you can’t come to Bible study unless your house is clean. Because your house has to be clean in order to come to Bible study. And I remember when she said that, I thought, “Oh my goodness, I could never go to that church then, because this house stays in ruins.” I’m a horrible housekeeper. And sometimes we get so legalistic and we say things like, “Well, a Christian woman wouldn’t have a dirty house. She wouldn’t have this.” And I’m like, oh my goodness, I could never be with the Lord then, because this house is destroyed. That’s not to say you shouldn’t clean your house, that’s not what we’re saying.
That’s just how man-made things can really hinder your relationship with Christ because you think you have to get it right, and when you think you have to get it right, that’s when things start to go wrong. And that’s why Candidly Christian is such an important movement I want our Christian brothers and sisters to be a part of. So you need to be candid and open about these things.
Yes my house is not right. Especially women because we are the managers of the house for the most part, and to hear someone say, “My house is dirty,” you’re like, “Oh my goodness mine is, too! And it’s never clean!” You can say, “My children won’t let me sleep.” They need to hear those types of things so they know everyone’s not perfect.
Part of being candid is differentiating between things, so what’s the difference between law and grace? I think that’s important as we talk about our candid conversations. Go ahead and tell us about that.
Heather: The law was put into place to show us our need for grace. Jesus summed up the law by saying, love God and love others as yourself. What’s really sad, is that we can’t even do that without needing the grace of God because we fail at it every single day, or at least I do.
I mean, I am constantly putting myself first. Making sure my needs and the needs of my family are met.
Or sometimes I will just need a moment to myself and I get cranky. And I need God’s grace because I fail to love others. And I fail at pointing others to Jesus.
But the good news is, that grace is there. The grace is there when we can’t meet the law. And that grace is a free gift for each and every one of us.
Parker: And grace and the law, you know, you can’t ignore the law. And this is important. And this is why a lot of times people think Christianity is a list of do’s and don’ts. We have the ten commandments saying do this, don’t do… you know things of that nature. And those are showing that we can’t keep it. But grace abounds where we fail, because we know we are going to fail.
And people say, “well, you don’t want to make God’s grace cheap.” And a lot of people have an issue with grace because they say, “Well, you can’t just say God’s going to forgive me. If you don’t do this _________.” You see what I’m saying. So let’s get some words or some definitions together here. When we say that the law was here to show us that we need grace, does that mean that we don’t do what we are supposed to do?
Heather: Not at all. Like I said, Jesus summed up the law by saying, “Love God and love others as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40; Matthew 7:12) And that is so important that we try to do that, I mean, that’s the essence of Christianity, when we come to a relationship with Jesus that’s what it’s all about. Loving Jesus and loving His people. And no, we’re not going to get that perfect, but that’s where the grace comes in when we fail at trying to love Jesus and love His people.
Parker: We’re talking about being candid today and I’m so glad you’re with us today, Heather. To really pull back the veil on what it means to be Christian, it means that we acknowledge our vulnerabilities, we acknowledge our failings, that doesn’t mean that we don’t try to strive to get over them, but that we have to acknowledge that we have them.
And one thing we don’t want to do, is we don’t want to present a façade to people. We don’t want to present this mask, the smiles and grins and it’s not real. We definitely don’t want to do that. And that’s why I’m glad we’re having this candid conversation about Candid Conversations. And what I’m really excited about with this book is that part of the Candidly Christian movement, and this is a movement that was started by Heather but not limited to her, about Christians being candid about their Christian walk. Not trying to put on a facade, not trying to put on a cloak of righteousness, not trying to put on a veil, we want to be candid about this, because one of the things that has hurt the church is when people who have looked up to us find out we are just as human as they are, but we have portrayed ourselves as angels. If I can use that terminology lightly. I hope you understand what I mean by that, Heather.
We portray ourselves a certain way and then we fall from grace, that fall from grace is quite hard. And we could just go down the list about the different, numerous scandals that happened within the church. Whether evangelical, or catholic, or anywhere else, you know, when it comes to scandals and the church those scandals tend to take bigger and bigger proportions because these people portray themselves in a certain way. And then guess what? They fail. And fail hard off this pedestal. And when that happens people’s faith can be shattered because they are following these people.
But let’s go back for a minute. Why do we try to portray ourselves in a particular light?
Heather: I think it’s a little bit of instinct and a little bit of pride, both mixed together.
Nobody wants people to look at them and think less of them. To think they are weak, or unworthy.
But we also learn from an early age that many things are performance driven. Even in elementary school the first ones picked for the team were usually either the ones who were the best at the game or the popular kids. These things make an impact on us even if we aren’t aware of it at the time.
They stick with us.
As we grow into adults, it’s the same thing, in order to get that promotion at work, we have to be the best. We have to try the hardest, we have to put in the most effort. We have to put our best foot forward when we go to the interview to get the job. That stigma is constantly there, even if we are just leaving the house to run to the store or posting a photo on social media.
It’s just one of those things in the back of our heads. It’s engrained in us.
Parker: It makes me think, about the book that you did, Mirror Mirror… Am I Beautiful? Because social media does have a big impact.
I remember the other day, I think you may have saw it on my Facebook, I did one of those silly face apps. You know, and then I got kind of caught up in it. Because you take the picture and it says, “Which version of you looks the most beautiful? With glasses, with makeup, or with a friend?” You know, like that’s the only thing that’s going to work for me.
And so I got caught up in this, and I was looking at this, and I actually think I look pretty good with the makeup look. I don’t wear makeup, so I’m like, “Wow.” And all of a sudden, I won’t lie to you, this thing came over me and I thought, “I really wish I looked like that.” And all of a sudden I started to feel bad. And I started to think, “Why can’t I look like that? Why do I have to look like this?”
We just get attacked by that stigma of trying to portray. And I had to come off of it and say, you know, “Stop, it’s just a Facebook app that means absolutely nothing.” You know what I mean?
You gotta kind of come out of it. And it’s like this thing where you are trying to put on a façade. You want to try to look like someone else. Someone else looks like they are doing great. Someone else looks like they are doing good. So you want to put on that façade, “Well, I’m doing just as good as you are.”
So, I like that you mentioned, “A little bit of everything.” Because in order to be seen, in order to get the job, in order to be caught by talent scouts or whoever, you have to put your best foot forward. But is putting your best foot forward when you put on the façade? That’s the question. And I think that’s important to.
And that’s why I really enjoyed reading Candid Conversations, I mean when you sent it to me and I started reading, some of these really came home to me and I was like, “Lord, help me in this area.”
But the thing about putting on a façade is that when you put on a façade you are going to be hiding something else because you don’t want people to know certain things about you. But we do know that we are going to fail to keep it a secret. So how can we keep it a secret if we are going to fail? Someone is going to find out that you don’t have it altogether. So what compels us to keep it a secret?
Heather: Well, I actually talked about this yesterday. I had a launch party for my book on Facebook, and I was talking to several different women and they had some really good imput for this. Baring your soul makes you feel really vulnerable. Or there is the fear of rejection. They don’t want to compromise how other people see you or your family. Just a lack of time in general. Not having friendships that allow you to have that openness. Not wanting to burden someone else with your problems. Assuming someone else is too busy for you. There are so many reasons, real or imagined, that we keep our struggles and keeping those struggles a secret and let them eat at us, and Satan loves it. But God wants so much more for us.
Parker: I like how you said that, Heather. I actually have to be open, too. One time I was having some marriage issues and I reached out to George McVey (He’s our pastor for PJC media). And y’all pray for George, he’s in the hospital right now. But I had reached out to George, and all I said was, “George, pray for me when you get a chance.” That’s all I said. And so he contacted me. And he said, “Parker, you are not just going to say that and hit send and leave.” And I said, “No, you’re busy. You’ve got other things to worry about. Just say a prayer.” And he said, “No.” And he literally made me tell him what was going on. And by that time I was like bawling and crying and there’s snot all coming down my nose, and all this kind of stuff. But what happened was that he cared enough to pull it out of us. And sometimes we try to keep it in, and like you said, it actually hurts us, because it starts to eat at us, because we’re not getting the help from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
And that’s what I like about Candid Conversations is that you don’t have to keep it in. Mind you, I don’t think you have to do what I call, emotional diarrhea. You don’t have to tell everything. We don’t need to know what color your undergarments are. You have to be careful of who you be candid with because not everyone has your best interests at heart.
But being transparent to an extent does help you because you don’t have to put on a façade. And I can appreciate that as we continue to talk about this. That’s why I want you to pick up this book, Candid Conversations. Because I’m sure in this book, every one of us, especially women, every one of us can relate to one of these stories. I know we can.
And so with that, what I want to do is kind of get a definition going on here. We’ve been using the word a lot, saying get candid. So many fans might be going, are you on candid camera? You know, the old show from back in the day? So go ahead and tell us, what do you mean by candid? So we’ll understand what this Candidly Christian movement is all about.
Heather: Just being open and honest about what we are going through. Life happens, and it’s hard. We shouldn’t have to pretend otherwise.
The same is true about our faith. Being a Christian woman doesn’t mean your life looks like an 80’s sitcom and you’re never struggling with anything.
Jesus knows that. That’s the whole reason He came to Earth to die for our sins. He knew we could never be perfect. He knew we would need a Savior. And He was willing to die on the Cross for our sins, past, present and future. That’s the good news of the gospel.
He knows, and we don’t have to hide our struggles from Him, and we shouldn’t have to hide them from other Christian women either.
Parker: And that’s it. I like how you said that, “Life happens, it’s hard. We shouldn’t have to pretend with our Christian life.” And that’s important. I think we’re going to put that in the bucket and throw it out to the internet and we’re going to break the internet. Because we shouldn’t have to pretend. But there are so many of us who do because of those very reasons that you mentioned. We don’t want people to know that, “Hey, I’m dealing with something.”Life happens, it's hard. We shouldn’t have to pretend with our Christian life. Click To Tweet
Particularly when it comes to those sins that we like… if we’re going to go there for a minute. When it comes to the sins that we like… Not the sins that we don’t want people to know. You know, I always talk about it. You know, I love cookies. You can never tempt me with alcohol, because I don’t drink, but you put a cookie in front of me… don’t leave it. I feel like my dog. Cause if I leave some food on the floor, he’s like you better make sure you watch it. Because like the moment you turn your back, it is gone. That’s how my dog does it. You know what I mean? But you put a cookie in front of me, I may take it.
So, I don’t mind talking about that. But what about my other sins I don’t want to talk about… Shh! I don’t want anyone to know about that. So, that’s why we want to make sure if we are being candid that we don’t have those problems. You don’t have to tell everybody everything, you don’t have to do that. But you do have to be candid about what’s going on in your life.
Especially be candid with the Lord, because He knows anyways. It’s not like its a surprise to Him. He knows anyways. So, that’s why it’s important when we talk about being Candidly Christian.
And so, what I wanna do is ask you, how the idea came to be.
Heather: Candidly Christian was definitely a God thing.
He was closing the door on one chapter of my life and I was praying about how to move forward, and I have always had a heart for women’s ministry, so I knew I wanted to do something with that, but I didn’t know what. So, I kept praying about it and just living my normal life.
And I got to thinking I wish that I could just be real online. That we didn’t have to put so much work into our online presence and putting our best foot forward. It was exhausting.
And God whispered, that’s it. And so that’s how Candidly Christian was born. I started it with the hopes of encouraging women in their everyday lives.
It has a twofold meaning.
First, just being candid about our struggles. Life isn’t always neat and tidy, but all too often we pretend that it is. We want others to think we have it all together when we don’t. What we fail to realize is that when we are honest about our struggles we can not only get encouragement and support, but we can also encourage and support others who are going through the same struggles we are.
And second, speaking candidly about our faith. Telling others about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and what that means to us doesn’t always come easy. It’s easier to skirt around the issue than it is to awkwardly try and explain what we believe. I want to bring Jesus into every day conversations, so He is no longer the elephant in the room.
Parker: That’s interesting, because now days, people want to say, “Well, you believe what you want to believe and that’s fine. That’s great for you.” But I like how you said, “He’s no longer the elephant in the room.” Because no matter what people say, the name of Jesus is either going to split you apart or bring you together. It’s not going to be halfway.
Because even when people say, “Well, that’s Jesus for you.” You know, I’ve had somebody be very condescending towards me when it comes to the Lord Jesus. They said, “Oh, you believe Jesus? Oh that’s fine.” But they’re very condescending. Because you either love Him or you hate Him. Because there really is no in between. Because He doesn’t give you that. Either you are going to follow Him, or you’re not. It’s very black and white even though He deals with our gray. You know what I’m saying?
Jesus deals with the grayness of our sin nature, because we are born in sin, we have a sin nature, and He deals with that, but He says follow me and I will make you fishers of men. You know, I’ll make you better. I’ll work with you. He works in the gray clay that we are. You know what I mean?
Parker: But following Him is a choice that we all have to make. It’s either black or white. You can’t half-way follow someone. He said you can’t serve me and man. And these are very important concepts when we are talking about Candidly Christian because we’re going to be having these issues where sometimes you go, “Lord, I don’t think I wanna go here. I don’t want to come out of my comfort zone.” But He says, “Are you going to follow Me, and are you going to trust in Me or not?” That’s kind of where we’re coming from.
I know for myself, doing this show, that I do all the time, there was a time when I was terrified. There was a time when I said, what in the world am I doing?? I can’t talk to people at all. Five years later we’re still doing it and branching off. So the Lord takes us out of our comfort zone, and puts us into a different zone and now He’s stretching us. He keeps stretching that faith because we’re going to be vessels for Him to spread about the gospel in whatever capacity.
With Candid Conversations, how did you recruit the women who were part of this anthology and this work? How did you recruit them? Did they volunteer or did you say come here Parker, do it. How did that go?
Heather: They all volunteered their stories, all I did was open the opportunity and then let women know it was there. I opened up a form on my website and shared about it on social media, and to my email list, but that was pretty much it. I didn’t contact any one one-on-one or do any hard marketing. I just opened the opportunity and let God do the rest.
Parker: So, why is Candidly Christian so important to you? You’ve kind of already given us hints, but I want you to expand on that if you can. Because I really want people to understand what we are talking about with Candidly Christian.
Heather: Because I remember the first time I realized that other Christian women struggled just like I did. That moment when I realized that I wasn’t struggling alone. It was like a huge burden was lifted.
I wasn’t glad they struggled, but there is something about walking through the trenches with someone else beside you. When you can let your guard down without fear of being judged because you know the ladies sitting next to you really are struggling just like you are. They aren’t going to judge you because they have their own problems. They are just as thankful to have someone to talk to as you are. They are like, I can talk to you, just like you can talk to me. There’s a camaraderie there. That friendship. There’s not the, “I’m better than you.” You know, “Get your act together so we can…” you know. There’s not the, “Go home and clean your house and come back.” We’re on the same level here.
Parker: **Laughing** I’m sorry, I hope Marci hears this later. Cause I’ll never forget when she said. I froze on this end of the microphone and said, “If that’s the case, I could never go back to church.” I remember thinking, “I could never go back.” That’s just my house and then there’s everything else that’s wrong with me.
Again, I’m so glad you’re here with me. I am having such a good time talking with Heather Hart about Candid Conversations. This book is a phenomenal book, like I said earlier in the broadcast, you can find a story for each of us in this collection of stories.
I’m actually going to read an excerpt from one of my favorite stories, because it actually spoke to me. It spoke to me a lot. Because I feel like this is me, and mind you, I have many, many flaws, but this one, probably cuts the cake. And so, I’m going to read the story.
Living for Jesus
By Jaime Hampton
The Story of the Golden Retriever
I am tired. Really, really tired. I know I always seem energetic, enthusiastic and eager to please, but keeping up that façade takes everything I have. It is exhausting running from person to person, performing on cue. But the exhilaration I get from a pat on the head for a job well done is what drives me to carry on. The disappointment that comes when I fail to earn the approval of those around me is crushing.
At my best, I am a loyal, self-sacrificing companion. You won’t know when I’m at my worst, because on the outside I will look very much the same. But on the inside… that is another story.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
I may not be a dog, but this golden retriever’s story is my story. My husband and I attended a marriage conference many years ago and took a personality test that assigned you an animal based on your temperament. I was a golden retriever, and it totally fits; I am a card-carrying people pleaser.
You, too, might be a people pleaser if you:
- hate confrontation
- avoid offending others at all costs
- agree with people to “keep the peace”
- feel almost euphoric when someone gives you praise or acknowledgement
- feel devastated when someone disapproves of you, or becomes angry with you
- have a hard time saying “no” to people
- never feel like you are doing enough
I think I became aware of my people-pleasing tendency sometime around college, or at least at that point I gave it a name. But as time went on, it evolved into “people-pleasing 2.0,” which took it to a whole new level. Before, I had been enslaved to the wants and needs of people around me, constantly trying to gain their approval. But later, this inner voice emerged. I am not sure where it came from, but it was always accusing me of failure, anticipating the displeasure of others, even when nobody was around to be displeased.
So where did this voice come from? Maybe I had given Satan a foothold by allowing this people-pleasing trait to grow in me, and the voice was the Accuser himself. Maybe I had gotten so used to guessing what other people wanted from me, that I had begun to anticipate, or even fabricate their expectations. But whoever or whatever the voice was, I became a slave to it; it was a heavy burden that I bore daily.
One morning when the voice had been particularly loud, I decided I was tired of it. I began to wage war on that voice, hoping to take those incorrect thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. I started thinking of scripture about God’s love for me and speaking it aloud. And then, almost audibly in my mind, I heard another voice. This time it was the voice of The Shepherd: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29, NIV).
It was like everything else just faded into the background as I rested in those beautiful words. I so wanted to trade in slavery to the inner voice for serving a gentle, humble master who loved me. I longed to throw off that heavy burden of people-pleasing and take on the yoke of Jesus, to learn how to live life to the full. And because of Jesus, it was possible! But old habits are hard to break. I still struggle, but I see the victories coming more frequently, and I recover more quickly from the defeats.
When you are a people pleaser, you are a lot like that golden retriever who found herself a slave to the many voices around her. Trying to make everyone around you happy is not only exhausting, it is impossible. If you were to ask those who know a people pleaser to describe her in one word, chances are it would be something like “nice.” But God doesn’t call us to be nice, He calls us to love.
Parker: That’s one of my favorite excerpts in this book here, and it really spoke to my heart. I told Heather before the show, I said, “That one almost made me cry.” Because I enjoy people. I enjoy being around them. I do a show where I talk to people all over the world. You know what I mean, Heather? This is what I do. And I don’t like confrontation. I don’t do it. Because I don’t want to make you upset.
But then, I love how Jaime says, “We’re called not to be nice, but to love.” And sometimes loving is to be selfish for yourself and to stop saying, “I’ll do it, I’ll do it, I’ll do it. Because I don’t want you to be mad at me.” I recently had an event happen where I lost a friendship that I cared deeply about. And when that happened, I realized that what I felt for the person, wasn’t what they felt for me after all this time. And I had done many things for the person, you know? And that’s when I started to realize, “Hey, maybe I need to be more selfish for me. Maybe I need to focus on the Lord more than focusing on people.” What are your thoughts as you hear that? That’s like one of my many vulnerabilities I have. What are some of the thoughts you had as you listened to Jaime’s story?
Heather: Well, I am a people pleaser, too and I know sometimes I can get physically sick when people are upset with me. It’s just… it’s a horrible feeling. But she hit the nail on the head there at the end, God doesn’t call us to be nice, He calls us to love. And sometimes it’s not loving to let them walk all over us, because that’s letting them continue behavior that’s not Christ-like. And it’s not being Christ-like ourselves by letting them do that. And we are called to love others as ourselves, and Jesus loves us. And He doesn’t want us to be treated that way. So we are supposed to focus on Him and sometimes we are supposed to say no to people and that’s really hard for us people-pleasers, but we have to learn to do that.
Parker: And that’s the hardest part. I know for myself, that’s the hardest part. Because, like I said, I enjoy people.
One thing Jaime said here that I liked, because when I realized this attribute in me, I didn’t realize it had a name to it until recently. About a year ago, a girl looked at me and she said, “You’re a people pleaser.” And I remember not liking how she said it because she said it kind of snarky because she doesn’t have those same things. So, I said, you know what, I almost wanted to hate myself. I was like, “Why am I like this?” But then someone said, “This is who you are.” You know what I’m saying? This is who we are. God made you this way for a reason. There’s nothing wrong with being this way.
Jaime says here, she says, “We people pleasers genuinely care about people. We also have the ability to be sensitive and diplomatic. Something the apostle Paul used to gain rapport with others with the goal of sharing the gospel.” And she hit it right here on the head. She hit it right here on the head, she said, “We genuinely care about people.” Which is true for the most part. There are days when I’m like, “Please get away from me, I wanna be by myself.” But we are like that so we can share the gospel which is our purpose in Christ: To share the gospel with someone else who needs it.
And that makes it okay. Because I was crying like, I don’t want to be this way, like maybe I should just be hard and cruel. I think I even put that on Facebook one time. I was just feeling down about that, I was just like, “Why do I keep opening myself up to get hurt? People keep hurting me. Maybe I should be cold and hard-hearted.” You know how you start tripping out. And we’re all writers so we get kind of dramatic every once and a while.
And someone said, “This is who you are, there’s nothing wrong with it, you just have to temper it.” That’s what someone said, “Just temper it.” They weren’t even a believer, they were just saying,”This is who you are. Accept it. Temper it. Keep moving.” And it seemed so simple. I was like, “Oh, okay. This is who I am. I’m going to ask the Lord to guide me.”
Then when I went to the Southern California Christian Writer’s Conference I got godly wisdom from a godly woman who really really helped me deal with that attribute within myself and I started to feel better. So I’m glad that Jaime was so candid about being a people pleaser because it made it okay for me to admit that yes, sometimes I’m like that. Because I love people. I love people.
And sometimes you get people who say, “Hey Parker, can you pray for me.” And I want to pray for them. “Hey, can you do this for me?” And I want to do that for them. Because I care. I don’t, not care. I can honestly say I care. That’s one thing I can be very frank about. I do care.
For those of you who suffer from the same thing, don’t feel bad about that.
What was one of your favorite stories in the anthology, Heather, besides your own, probably.
Heather: Well, like I said, I loved Jaime’s, but the one right after it was written by Sheila Qualls and it really hit home with me. She shared about how her heart hurt for something her daughter was going through and she had counselled her daughter to turn to God and she knew she should too, but she just didn’t feel like it.
I have so been there. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It. Is. Hard. When your baby is hurting, and your mama bear instincts kick in, the spiritual war is fierce. She may have downed two sweet tea’s at McDonald’s, but I have called the principle of the school ranting and raving like a lunatic before my senses kicked in and had to call back to apologize. Um, so, I’ve been there.
Heather: I called someone and was like, this is what’s going on, and I was just so mad. And she’s like, “Have you prayed?” And I’m like, “I don’t want to.” I just have so been there.
You know it’s the right thing to do. You know you’re a Christian woman. You know you lead the Bible study at your church. You know that you’re supposed to, but sometimes….
Heather: When your kids are hurting, you don’t want to be the better person. I’m sorry.
Parker: Sometimes you don’t.
I remember when my nephew was being bullied at school. And he had three aunties. We are all grown women, threatening fire and brimstone at that school. We were all talkin’ smack, you know. Saying, “I will go up there and beat somebody if they mess with my nephew.” Because your maternal instincts kick in. You know, “This is my nephew, he would never hurt anyone, he’s a good kid…” you know, just everything. Those mama bear instincts come out and my mother’s like, “Ladies.” Because she’s raising my nephew. “Ladies, let’s all calm down.” She said. “We can handle it.” My mother you know, she’s raising my nephew, and she said, “Did you pray?” And we’re like, “I don’t wanna hear that right now.”
Parker: “I don’t wanna hear that. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I want to do this right now.” And that’s why we are having candid conversations. This is why the book is out there, so you know that these thoughts that me and Heather and so many other women have had, it’s okay.
And the Lord does call us to repentance.
Heather: Yes, I did call the principal back and apologise. I did.
Parker: You have to trust the Lord and say, “Lord, I’m sorry for going off the deep end.” You know, and you have to talk to Him again. So, I totally get that.
So, I hope you who are listening to the sound of our voices know that these conversations these women are having with you, they do read like conversations as you’re reading them. Which I really like about book was just the easy-going flow of the book. It’s just like you’re sitting across from Sheila, or you’re sitting across from Jaime, you’re sitting across from Mary, you’re sitting across from them, talking. And I like the little coffee cup, I’m a tea drinker though, but the coffee cup on the front. You’re sitting across having a conversation.
And that’s what makes this book such a wonderful resource for women’s ministries or I think school ministries, or school groups. I think that you will all benefit from that. Because of the fact that you’re talking candidly about the faith, about the struggles you have. About the doubts you have even. I mean, talk candidly about it. Don’t be afraid, because someone else is having the exact same thing.
Again, if I can use another show that we did, Heather, we had a young lady on our show, her name was Kathy Collard Miller. She had been abusive to her child many years ago she had beat her daughter. She wrote a book about it. And in her book she mentioned how the Lord delivered her from her anger, things of that nature. But she said when she mentioned being angry at her kid in the book, other women were like, oh my goodness, I did too. And what starts to happen is once you’re open about it and candid about it. And that one was very serious, being abusive to her daughter, because she literally was a child abuser. She said on the show, “I used to beat my daughter when she was 2 years old.” This was back in the late 70’s, somewhere around that time. And she said that. But when she got help, she got help for her problem, now she and her daughter have a good relationship.
That’s what this whole thing brings together, the fact that you can have candid conversations and get help and support like you said earlier, Heather.
Once you be open and transparent about that, others can benefit from that. Because they know that they are not alone. Okay? They know that, guess what, I’m dealing with the same things, too. And what happens is that you feel better. Like you mentioned earlier, Heather, you said, “When I found out other Christian women were having some of the same struggles I have this burden was lifted.” It’s like, “whew, I’m not perfect. This is beautiful. She’s not perfect either, I like her.” You know what I’m saying? You can open up to them. So that’s why Candid Conversations is an essential part of your ministry for women.
Now, we got it geared towards women, but I’ve gotta ask. Can men read this book, too?
Heather: God has really given me a heart for women’s ministry; however, several men have already read this book. So, they definitely can. But it was written by women and for women. And women are the ones who I think are going to get the most out of it. Because while we all know men struggle just us much as us women, our struggles are different.
Men aren’t going to struggle with postpartum depression. Or being a stay-at-home mom. They don’t relate to Martha and Mary the way we do or have the same relationship with their mothers and daughters. We all struggle, but our struggles are different.
Parker: Exactly. And that makes a lot of sense, but at the same time I think men would appreciate seeing a female point of view. I think they’ll appreciate that. They’ll go, “Wow, I never thought about that.” And maybe it will help them to be better to their wives or to their daughters or to their moms or whoever. Maybe it will help them when they read Candid Conversations.
Now, do you think you’ll have a series of candid conversations?
Heather: Well, honestly, candid conversations are at the heart of the Candidly Christian ministry. It’s what we are all about. Every blog post we write is a candid conversation.
We want to be open and honest about our struggles as Christian women. Whether that’s a struggle with our faith, a relationship, life, health, whatever, because life is hard.
Too often, we are bombarded with images of picture perfect people, and that’s just not what life looks like.
We have bad hair days. Our kids misbehave. We make mistakes.
And God knows that.
The good news is that because of Jesus, we don’t have to live in shame. There is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ.
We are all sinners saved by grace.
All that said, I can’t share much yet, but there may be a special candid conversations project in the works that may or may not involve my favorite radio host.
Parker: **Laughing** And we are going to keep that candid. Like can-did. No, I’m joking. We are working on the back-end because I’m really on board with Candidly Christian, and I’m really on board with that. And so, we’re going to use it and see what He’s going to do with it. So we’ll give you more information later on throughout the year. But I’m really excited.
You know, we are actually at the end of our show, we are actually over our show time so I wanna make sure people can get in touch with you, Heather, if they want to get in touch with you. So, go ahead and share your social media outlets with us.
Heather: You can connect with me on…
- Facebook @ authorheatherhart
- Twitter @ _HeatherHart
- Instagram @ heather.hart
- Pinterest @ authorheatherh
Parker: You know, um, what I want to do is, I always encourage our authors on this show. If God has given you the gift to write, to pick up the pen and do so, I always encourage that. But today I think I want us to encourage people to be candid about their experience through the written word. Some people have life stories to share, some people have things that they’ve dealt with that can help others. Some people are struggling with being open about any turmoil that they have in their lives. I want you to encourage our authors out there today to be candid with the Lord, and candid with each other.
Heather: Yeah, absolutely. You know, writing and marketing is hard. And, being candid along with that is even harder. A lot of people are afraid that when they share their stories they’re going to come under condemnation. Some people will flat out tell you that you shouldn’t share your struggles. But there is a freedom in telling people that you don’t have it all together.There is a freedom in telling people that you don't have it all together. Click To Tweet
You know, I have heard so much positive feedback from readers saying, this is what I need to be hearing. So, I encourage you, the only one’s saying don’t share your struggles are the people at the top. The people who are going to buy your books, the people who are going to read your blogs, they’re the ones who want to know they aren’t alone.
So, definitely don’t be afraid to share your stories.
Parker: Heather, thank you, thank you. Thank you so much for being with us on the show today. Thank you for allowing me to highlight Candid Conversations. Thank you for letting me be a part of the Candidly Christian movement. And I can’t wait to have you back on the show, and have you back real soon. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Heather: Thank you.
Parker: We were talking today wither Heather Hart, she is the founding author of Candid Conversations, which is available on Amazon.com or wherever books are sold, as well as the founder of the Candidly Christian movement. A movement that encourages Christian women to talk candidly about the Christian walk, about our struggles, about our doubts, about anything that’s on our mind, we wanna be candid about it.
So make sure you follow Heather online. You can go to her website, BooksFaithandCoffee.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @BooklyBooks and @CandidGals. I want to make sure you connect with her because you have a story to share. Maybe you don’t have a book to share, but maybe you want to share something you want to be candid about. Connect with Heather, she’d love to have you. And have you as part of the Candidly Christian movement.
For myself, when I read Candid Conversations, I did feel a burden of my own lift off. Especially about the people pleasers. That just really made me feel better because someone else articulated my thoughts. Someone articulated my struggle. And because of that, I felt okay to mention it on air to whoever’s listening that hey, sometimes I can be a definite people pleaser and that can be to my detriment. But that’s okay, the Lord’s going to work through me, I’ll be the golden retriever that follows her master and not just every squirrel that catches my attention. We don’t want to be that way.
I want to thank Heather so much for allowing us to showcase Candid Conversations today. And thank you so much for being with me on the show today. You have a wonderful, absolutely glorious, blessed day. From the Queen of Tuesday nights. God bless.Join @ParkerJCole and @_HeatherHart as they get #CandidlyChristian. Click To Tweet