Finding Quiet on God’s Journey for You
Award-winning musician Jamie Grace has struggled with Tourette's, ADHD, & anxiety. Here's how she's leaning into God's journey for her--and finding quiet.
About the Guest
Award-winning musician Jamie Grace has struggled with Tourette’s, ADHD, & anxiety. Here’s how she’s leaning into God’s journey for her–and finding quiet.
Finding Quiet on God’s Journey for You
Dave: I actually really want to know the answer to this question; because I think I know, but I don’t think I know: “What are the statements you hear most in your head?—
Dave: —“like almost on repeat?”
Ann: “My husband is so handsome!”
Dave: That’s what I was thinking! [Laughter] That’s what I figured you’d say. I didn’t think “handsome,” but I thought “awesome.”
Dave: “I can’t believe I got this guy.”
Okay, now, seriously—
Ann: Did you think I would say that?!
Dave: No, I thought—you’ve never even thought that one time.
Dave: Maybe in our first year of marriage, but after that—
Ann: That’s not true! I think that all the time.
Ann: But it’s interesting; the thoughts that come through my head now are different than what used to come into my head.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: What are the statements you hear most in your head?
Ann: The thoughts that come through my head now are different than what used to come into my head; because I feel like my thoughts in the past have been super toxic: “I’m ugly,” “I’m fat; I need to lose weight,” “I need to be better; I’m failing,” “I’m not smart enough,” “I’m not doing enough.” It was just a constant barrage of that negative self-talk.
And nobody would have known that; do you think? I mean, we’ve been married
41 years; would you have thought those were my thoughts in my head?
Dave: Not initially; but it didn’t take long, after we were married, to realize you hear that a lot.
Ann: Yes; I don’t anymore.
Dave: Yes, I think a lot of people hear a lot of negative self-talk. You know, working with pro-athletes for 33 years—of course, people are thinking, “Well, you worked with the Detroit Lions; of course, there was a lot of negative self-talk!”—[Laughter]—but there was a lot of negative thoughts of guys—
Ann: —super-successful guys.
Dave: —that are at the highest level. And you think, “Wow! When they line up for a play, they are hearing: ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘I’m not going to be able to make this play.’” You’re like, “What in the world!? How can that be true?” And that’s a real thing!
Ann: And I worked with their wives. I mean, these women—some of these women—were supermodels, or they had three degrees; they were so talented. And yet, the self-talk that they would share was so surprising; it was: “I’m ugly,” “I’m stupid.” Their lives showed everything but that.
Dave: And the truth is—and we know this—“How we think is how we live.” Belief—you know me, as a preacher—“Belief dictates behavior.” So whatever I’m believing about myself is going to dictate the way I live.
The reason we’re bringing this up is we’ve got Jamie Grace back in the studio with us. Jamie, first of all, welcome back!
Jamie: Hello! It’s good to be back.
Dave: I mean, you’re sitting over there, smiling/looking at us. What are you thinking as we’re talking about this? [Laughter]
Jamie: Oh, this is so great! At the very, very beginning, I was like: “Guys, I’m right here! [Laughter] You can stop flirting! This is really weird—super cute—but I shouldn’t be here.” [Laughter]
But all of that resonates with me, even when you were asking that initial question. Ironically, I do oftentimes pre-flirt with my husband in my head; because when I try to flirt out loud, it doesn’t—you know, I’m not always very successful—so I’ll like practice my flirts in my head.
Ann: Ooh, maybe I should try that.
Jamie: It still doesn’t work; I’m not—
Dave: Practice your flirts!
Ann: But you’re good in your head; aren’t you?
Jamie: To me, I’m like [guy’s voice], “Oh, that’s going to do it!!” And then I’ll say it out loud; and he’s like, “Babe.” [Laughter] I think he’s used to it at this point, but I’m so awkward. There are like fans listening, so I won’t give any examples; but I’m just awkward.
Dave: I mean, I would love to know what goes on in your head; because you’re very successful. In terms of like being a pro-athlete, you’ve reached that in the singer/song world; you know?
Ann: Yes; Jamie’s a two-time Grammy-nominated singer/song writer.
Dave: And a Dove award winner for New Artist in 2012; am I right?
Jamie Grace: Yes, that was spot on; yes.
Dave: Yes; I went on and learned all your songs. I’m going to sing them. [Laughter]
Ann: She has a podcast called The Jamie Grace Podcast.
Jamie: I do; I do.
Ann: So you really are successful. I mean, as the world looks at you, they would think, “Oh, she’s made it!”
And you’ve written a book called Finding Quiet: —
Ann: —My Journey to Peace in an Anxious World.
Dave: But in the book, you start talking about the self-talk.
Jamie: —those daily thoughts, and I still have them.
Dave: What does it sound like?
Jamie: Very similar to yours, Ann. I mean, I’m a first-time mom with a two-year-old—especially that post-partum season; that six to twelve months—I like to tell people, “I’m still post-partum; because it’s a pandemic, so it didn’t count!” [Laughter] I mean, it’s still that: “Oh, you need to lose weight,” “You’re not successful,” “You’re not doing a good job,”—like it’s constant, and it’s frustrating.
I’ve done a lot of work: just like personally in therapy, church small groups—pastor/me and my pastor—stuff like that. A lot of times what will now start to happen is like a lot of pep talk—you know what I mean?—
Jamie: —and I’m proud of that. You know, a lot of times, I’ll have this kind of like in my head: “You’re so dumb,” “That song is terrible that you wrote.”
But I’ll catch myself and kind of like, immediately, start to be like: “But the song you wrote last week wasn’t that bad,” and “You did a good job,” “You know what else you did?—you swept. Maybe it was two weeks ago, but guess what?—you did it!” and “You cooked dinner, and it was awesome; and your husband liked it,” “Oh, good; we’re probably going to kiss later [kissing sounds].”
I’ve definitely done a lot of conscious work to like try to override a lot of those negative thoughts. A lot of times, I’ll like do it out loud as well—like even from a spiritual standpoint—with Scriptures and stuff like that.
Ann: Yes; it’s a journey, and it takes a lot of work.
Jamie: Yes! So when I catch myself doing that—like mentally [negative self-talk]: “You’re this…” “You’re that,”—I’ll start walking through the house, like, “You are a child of God! You are a daughter of the Most High King!”
Jamie: Some people might think this is cheesy; but I mean, this genuinely—sometimes, I’ll quote my lyrics out loud, not in a way of like [bragging voice]: “Look! I wrote it!”—not like that—but because everything I’ve written is genuinely something the Lord gave to me in a moment of desperation.
Ann: Give us some lyrics that you would say.
Jamie: Yes; so I have this song called Daughter of the King. It says: “The Maker of skies is the Maker of seas, the Maker of every beautiful thing: He made you; He made you too.”
The first time I ever said something like that, it was during a show. There was a girl in the middle of the crowd, who was—later I processed—was kind of the outsider in the young adult group that she was in. I just like stopped in the middle of my set; and the Lord told me to tell her, “The Maker of skies and the Maker of seas; He made your face.” My lyrics aren’t necessarily something that’s like, “Oooh, I get to write something catchy.” You know, they really do come from moments of the Lord really speaking to me.
Scripture is obviously way more powerful than anything that I could come up with, so I’ll just start reading Proverbs out loud. Right now, I have a Proverb book on my bathroom mirror. If something else—something from Psalms, or Galatians, or Habakkuk, or whatever it is—speaks to me, in a couple of weeks, I’ll put that up there, too, and just try to speak out loud the words of truth; speak out loud the words of wisdom, because it can be so much more powerful than whatever is happening in my head. It can kind of just help get me into a habit of hearing those things and saying those things instead.
Dave: Yes; and think even the song—a very poppy song—I’m guessing this one was one of your Grammy nominations: I Love the Way You Hold Me.
Dave: As poppy as that is, that lyric is, in some way, very profound—I mean, it’s said over and over in the song—and TobyMac and the whole thing—but then, when you think through what you’re singing—and you know that kids are singing this—you think, “A lot of times, I don’t believe He’s holding me right now.
Dave: “I’m saying it in a song, but I don’t believe the thing I’m going through—
Dave: “—He’s got me.
Ann: You’re saying, “God is God.”
Dave: “God is holding me,”—I Love the Way You Hold Me—so often, we’re like, “I don’t know if You are right now.”
Dave: Because the self-talk is: “I’m alone.
Jamie: Yes; right.
Dave: “I’m struggling on my own.” That simple lyric is like, “No; you’re not.”
Jamie: Anybody who knows me knows that I have—it’s not an obsession, because that’s not a very healthy word—but my big sister is my literal hero; I love her so much. We got—for her senior year in college, I was at the same college—and we got an off-campus apartment. I know, we were really cool. It’s a Bible college, so that kind of stuff was just like—
Ann: You were young; how old were you?
Jamie: We were 16 when we started college. She was 20, in her senior year; and I was like 17/18.
Dave: Wait, wait, wait! Why were you starting college at 16?
Jamie: She’s smarter than I am; I don’t like to take too much credit for my intelligence, even though I do think maybe I’m smart sometimes. The thing is—when you’re the oldest one, I think you’re the smartest—she started reading at three. My mom is just an amazing educator, and so she had Morgan reading at three. I just/I was younger, so I was just doing whatever she was doing. So yes, okay; I think I’m a little bit smart, but I credit a lot to my mom and my sister. I just showed up, and they were already doing the work! [Laughter] I was like, “I might as well help them read stuff.”
My sister actually graduated high school at 14 or 13. My mom wasn’t ready for her to go to college, so she just made up a bunch of extra work for her to do for a couple of years until she was ready to go to college.
But we were like living in this off-campus apartment, and we were supposed to do that until I was done with college, like that was going to be our thing. I was going to live in this cool apartment for three years.
Ann: Let me add—let’s go back a little bit for the people who/—
Ann: —for our listeners, who maybe missed our first episode, which: “Go back and listen.” You were given a diagnosis—
Ann: —at age eleven. Share a little bit, just as a reminder.
Jamie: Yes, yes. I had already been given this diagnosis of Turret’s syndrome, which is a movement disorder—a tic disorder—as well as anxiety/generalized anxiety disorder—which is as a quick synopsis—“Imagine everyday worry times 20, basically, because of neurological stuff; and then, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which is OCD and ADHD. “ I had all of that that I was dealing with on a daily basis.
Ann: That’s why I wanted our listeners to know. So now, you’re in college!
Jamie: Yes; the main stipulation for college was that I went where my sister went. I wasn’t as far along mental health-wise as I, maybe, thought I was going to be to go out of state, which is what I wanted to do; but it’s okay, because we both graduated from a school called Point University in the Southeast, and we really loved it. I loved getting to be near her, so that was a huge blessing.
But then my sister went off and did the very stereotypical pastor’s daughter Bible college thing and got herself a suitor. She gets so mad when I say that word. [Laughter] But she started dating someone, who is now her husband of like twelve years, super-cute; whatever!
Ann: How could she do that to you?
Jamie: I know!! So here I am, in this apartment. I’m supposed to be watching Cheetah Girls with my sister every night, eating pizza—and they’re sitting on the couch—she started watching like super-hero movies all of a sudden. [Laughter] She’s like, you know, I guess they are like Christian dating, so I’m still in the house. I’m like, “This is just dumb! Be your own accountability. I need to go!” I was miserable.
Anyway, that’s how I wrote Hold Me, because I was just like, “This is stupid!” [Laughter]
Ann: That’s when you wrote Hold Me?
Jamie: All of my songs that sound like I’m in a good mood—I was crying—all of them.
Jamie: I was crying my eyes out when I wrote Hold Me. I was sitting in my room, all by myself, just like, “I’m going to be single forever,”—like—“No one’s holding me.”
Ann: I didn’t know that about that song, because it’s so filled with joy; and yet, you were saying, “No.”
Dave: Well, here’s the other thing I find interesting [about] what you just said.
Dave: You do—I think it’s your second chapter—you call it the “The Noise of Feelings.”
Dave: It’s almost how you stifle and hold feelings in. When I read that, I’m like, “Oh, boy! I do the same thing.”
Jamie: Yes, yes.
Dave: I don’t like them. I sort of—I cry at movies—I don’t cry in life.
Jamie: Yes, yes.
Dave: But you just shared how you express your feelings. Talk about that.
Jamie: Yes; well, I really do have a love/hate relationship with feelings. I do love to feel feels. You know, I love—especially when it comes to music—it’s such a safe space for me to feel, whether I’m listening to a heavily emotive song, or I’m playing a very emotional song/writing something very personal—I really do enjoy that.
But it can oftentimes be difficult, around other humans, for me to go there, emotionally. With my family, sometimes—my mom is so sweet; and she’ll say, “Oh, you know, when I’m with your daughter, it reminds me of when you…”—and I’m like, “Ooh! No, mom! Nachos;”—you know?—“I just can’t do it.”
Dave: Did you say, “nachos”?
Jamie: Yes! How about: “Just change the subject”? [Laughter]
At our wedding, I laughed through the entire ceremony—not like dis-ing or anything—but I just thought it was funny. I was like, “This is hilarious that I tricked this really hot guy into marrying me.” [Laughter] I was just laughing the whole time. But then I cried later; I was like, “I don’t want all these people to see me cry!” It’s so weird; I’ve always had a really challenging, back-and-forth relationship with feelings; but as I get older, I’ve just tried to become more and more intentional with choosing to feel and choosing to be okay with feeling.
The Lord is not mad at me because of my feelings. The Lord is not upset with me for having feelings; you know? I think, for so long, I just wanted—well, I still feel this way sometimes—I just wanted everybody to be happy; I just wanted everybody to be okay, so I never wanted my feelings to interrupt that. I was just always trying to be conscious of: “Okay, I’m dealing with this medical diagnosis.” Again, it’s a journey; I still deal with really bad days of Tourrete’s stuff or anxiety stuff. So I’m just/even when I’m having those days, I’m constantly thinking, “Is my husband okay?” If I feel too much, then I can’t be conscious if he’s okay. If I feel too much, then I’m not looking out for my daughter.
When reality is—the Lord has given me a spouse, and that’s a part of marriage—me being able to be open about how I’m feeling and the challenges that I’m facing, and vice versa. And the reality of parenthood and motherhood is that she needs to see me cry. She needs to know that: “Mommy gets sad sometimes. Mommy’s working through it, and it’s going to get better”; you know? My own relationship with feelings kind of gets in the way of that sometimes, and kind of just causes me to shut down a little bit and only practice feelings when songs are on.
Ann: I think that’s pretty big. Dave, I’m looking at you, like you can relate to that; because you have run from your feelings, in the past, a lot.
Dave: Yes; and I didn’t know it for decades, but it was a defense mechanism to protect myself. I can remember, you know, being the father and the pastor—doing my sons’ weddings—I can remember standing in the chapel, looking at my son and his new bride, and feeling like, “I can’t feel! I should feel this moment.”
Dave: And part of me is like, “Well, I have a job to do; I have to officiate the wedding”; but I think I was afraid.
And I know this—from Ann in our marriage—she wants—
Ann: Oh, yes! I want you to feel and emote that.
Dave: Because I think, in some ways, you’re not fully present when we guard your feelings.
When I was reading your book—even about finding quiet and finding peace—sometimes, we’re afraid to step into those feelings; and we never get to the other side, which is peace, if we’re willing to go there.
Jamie: Yes, yes.
Dave: It may be scary; it may be uncomfortable, but it’s like—
Anyway, for me, I feel like, “Man, I want to make the last 30 years of my life feeling years”; you know, in the sense that I want to cry at life, not just in a movie theater. Part of that is like I’ve got to be willing to go into it.
Ann: One of the things you say in your book is: “I started to realize that it wasn’t my purpose to bring people joy.” A lot of us, I think—especially as a mom—I could feel that. I do feel that—
Ann: —for my kids; for my friends—I want to bring them joy.
You say: “Instead, it was my purpose to live a life full of joy in hopes of directing people to see the Source.”
Jamie: Yes; every few months, I go through this—I mean, this is a little bit of my personality; this is a little bit of my anxiety as a human; this is a little bit of my anxiety disorder—but every few months, I go through an “I need to fix the world” phase. I’ve gotten to the point now that I can talk myself out of it within a day now, so that’s a huge step! Because the first time I tried to fix the world, I was about seven. It took me months to realize, “I’m doing too much.” I have to remind myself that I’m not called to be all things to all people.
Jamie: You know, I think a lot of times—and this is not to be received as a big, theological unraveling or anything—but I think, a lot of times, as believers, we get caught up in words like “purpose” and “calling.” Especially young adults who listen to my podcast; they ask: “What am I supposed to do?” “What college am I supposed to go to? I don’t want to make the wrong choice!” “What career? I don’t want to do the wrong job,” “I don’t want to marry the wrong person! How do you know the one?” You know, this kind of grand scale of: “What is my purpose?” and “What is my calling?”
Sometimes, the Lord is like, “I want you to wake up tomorrow and extend grace to everyone you see. That’s your purpose for today”; you know? Just choosing to be more present has allowed me to do that. Even—you know, what you were saying a minute ago about your son’s wedding: “I’m just trying to do the job and, you know, not feel the feels. I’m just trying to complete the task at hand”; you know?—I dealt with a lot of that, getting famous at 17, you know, with my music. My job was to make everybody happy. If I stopped making people happy: “I’m not relevant anymore; I’m not famous anymore,”—and then, I’m seen as a failure—“If I stop playing 200/300 shows a year, will people see [me] as not successful?”; you know.
That was one of the main things in my life that really took a hit on my mental health and really took a hit on my feelings. I was so much better at feelings before I was famous. [Laughter] I had such a healthier relationship with feelings before I realized that feelings could easily become a currency; and that it was just my job to keep all the feelings as high and happy as possible, at whatever expense to myself.
That’s what happens—whether you’re a mom, or an artist, or a dad at a wedding/a pastor at a wedding—when you’re so caught up with: “Let me just monitor everybody else’s feelings, and create and serve joy on a platter,” as though it’s mine to give; you know? When we’re constantly doing that, then we’re completely neglecting ourselves. We’ve completely avoided every aspect of who God calls us to be and what that purpose looks like.
I mean, that’s really where the book started for me: realizing that, by trying to make everybody so happy—by literally, being one of two of the main musical resources for most Christian families in America for like four years, who had young girls—by just stepping into that role of being “it,” I was completely neglecting who God made me to be.
Jamie: I was completely neglecting any kind of feeling of just doing the job. There was no connection to my own feelings and my own needs.
Finding quiet became a literal thing: I walked away from all of it, and I just sat in a quiet house and healed for a long time.
Ann: I think that that’s important—what you just said—“I just sat in the house and healed.”
Ann: I think men are like this; but women, maybe, it’s a different way—we’re fixing; we’re helping; we’re taking care of so many people—that, a lot of times, it feels selfish to focus on our own mental health.
Ann: And I talk to a lot of moms and women, who are really struggling with that.
Ann: So Jamie, I think it’s really wise—
Jamie: Thank you.
Ann: —to say, “It’s not selfish; you need to plug into Jesus.”
Ann: I think you’re saying that therapy has really helped, and that can be a great thing. Also, to have some other people—your best friend’s your sister, your mom—
Ann: —so you have some other women around you, speaking life and really walking you through some of those things.
Ann: Those things are good; but to go to Jesus too. He says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary…”—
Ann: —I think that’s the first place to go, and He’ll give us wisdom.
Shelby: Mental health is such a tricky thing sometimes; because we say we want to get better, but a lot of times, the way that we act kind of communicates that we don’t want to get better. One of the ways that Jamie Grace has talked with Dave and Ann Wilson today to help us improve in our mental health journey is to lean on other people and discover that, as we invite others into our lives, Jesus can work in and through the people, who are around us, to help us on our journey. It’s really just a matter of humbling ourselves and saying, “Yes, I need community.” Jamie Grace has written a book called, Finding Quiet: My Journey to Peace in an Anxious World. Oh, my goodness, do we live in an anxious world right now. Again, you can find her book at FamilyLifeToday.com and request your copy there.
Finding quiet is something that we search for all the time in this anxious world. Easter is a time where we can find quiet in unique new ways, because we’re focusing on the quiet Jesus has provided for us in our souls and in our spirits by the fact that He died for our sins and was resurrected, which we’re going to celebrate at Easter very soon. This Lenten season, which are the weeks leading up to Easter, are a time that we need to find peace; we need to find quiet; we need to refocus our hearts on the truth of Who Jesus is and what He’s done for us.
All this week at FamilyLifeToday.com, if you make a donation of any amount, we will help you focus in a very specific way by sending you a copy of Rich Wounds: The Countless Treasures of the Life, Death, and Triumph of Jesus. This is a 30-day devotional that helps you, in this Lenten season, focus appropriately on what’s coming: the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection. We think this is an important book that can act as a devotional for you to help get your heart ready for this Easter season. With a donation of any amount at FamilyLifeToday.com, we would love to send you a copy of Rich Wounds, to help you take a deeper look at Jesus’s life and sacrificial death. Again, you can make your donation at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call and order at 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
If this conversation with Dave and Ann Wilson and Jamie Grace has been encouraging to you, or any of the programs have been helpful for you, we’d love for you to share today’s podcast with a friend or a family member. While you’re there, it could really advance the gospel work of FamilyLife Today if you’d scroll down and rate and review us.
Now, tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be talking with David Mathis, the author of Rich Wounds, as he helps focus our hearts toward the profound reflections that help us meditate on and marvel at the sacrificial love of Jesus. That’s coming up tomorrow.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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