In this episode:
Do you long to be gutsy enough to break free from the stuff that keeps you in defeat? God hasn't wasted a single heartache in Jennifer Watson’s life, and she’s passionate about helping others break free. From working through her own brokenness and learning to end toxic patterns in relationships, marriage, ministry, and work, Jennifer now helps others advocate for themselves in ways they never thought possible. Whether brokenness, trauma from abuse, or bondage from shame, you can experience freedom too.
About Jennifer Watson:
Jennifer Watson is an author, cohost of More Than Small Talk podcast, mother of two teenagers, and a fierce advocate for anyone working through trauma from broken relationships and systems. Author of Freedom!: The Gutsy Pursuit of Breakthrough & the Life Beyond It.
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Quotes to Remember from Jennifer Watson
- A lot of moving forward in our stories is not throwing shame at ourselves, not listening to the enemy when he tries to throw it back at us.
- I think freedom is very offensive to those who are not walking in it or benefited from you not being free and broken.
- Perfectionism is hiding in so many ways. It's a mask. And that's usually driven by fear. But saying, "No, I'll show up messy," that's brave.
- I think we cannot be free alone. And we cannot heal alone. We heal in community. And most of the time we've been broken in community.
- Every single broken place in my life has been used for a greater purpose. I don't want to be the poster child for a broken home, or depression and anxiety. But God has used that beyond what I could ever imagine. And that is where real ministry happened in the messiness of my story.
- We cannot let the broken pieces of our story be the ending. No, it's just a chapter. And we can build from that.
- Other people's pain makes us uncomfortable. And really, we don't have to give people all the answers, because we don't know them ourselves. But if you can sit with someone and let them talk through their trauma, and be a safe person, that's all you have to do.
- I think that you are stronger than you think. I think that you are braver than you think. Every day, you do hard things. You can be gutsy. You can be brave. And being brave is doing things afraid… It's not waiting until the fear leaves. It's just showing up in the fear, in the unknown, and saying, "I'm not going to let this win. I'm not going to let this get me."
- Most people stop right before their breakthrough. They give up when they're right on the edge of it. … a little more pressing, a little more hard, a little more crying about it, a little more therapy.
Woman with bleeding (Bible story): Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Mark 5:25-34
This episode is brought to you by the book and Bible study called The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure. Are there experiences you'd rather toss in the dumpster? Discover the repurposed and upcycled life. This Christian living and humor book and accompanying Bible study will help you see how some of your greatest disappointments, mistakes, and hurts can be beautiful treasures from God. This simple format is welcome for busy women who are looking for deeper relationships with one another without the burden of extra homework. More about the best-selling book and study: The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure
Jennifer Watson, Michelle Rayburn
Michelle Rayburn 00:04
Hey friend, it's okay to not be okay for a while. But Jesus has a plan to see your scars become success stories that reflect His glory to the people around you. Today, I'm interviewing Jennifer Watson, and she's going to be talking about brokenness, how we wear it like a badge, proudly showing off the shattered pieces of our lives while we're still fighting the same desperate battles. Jennifer wants to help you stop feeling shame and emptiness, to discard the victim mentality, to experience lasting restoration in your story and your soul. If you're feeling stuck, this is the day for you. This is your opportunity to take a look at what's broken. And take that brave and gutsy step of moving forward. I hope you enjoyed this interview with Jennifer Watson.
Michelle Rayburn 01:07
You're listening to Life Repurposed, where you'll find practical biblical wisdom for everyday living, creative inspiration, and helpful resources. Grow your faith, improve your relationships, discover your purpose, and reach your goals with topics to encourage you to find hope amid the trashy stuff of life. Thanks for joining me today. I'm your host, Michelle Rayburn.
Michelle Rayburn 01:31
Hey, friends, before we get into the interview with Jennifer, I just wanted to pull out something from her book that resonated with me. Now, this is among all of the things that I marked and put post-it notes on and everything like that. But there's something in here that she talked about, about our tug of war with joy. And I'm wondering if you can relate to this, where you're always on edge when something good happens. And you're thinking about like being full on joyful about it. There's this tug of war thinking there's a tragedy about to come. So I'm bound to thinking about tragedy instead of really being in the moment with joy.
Michelle Rayburn 02:07
Jennifer talked about how she was uncertain of how to handle the joy and freedom that she was walking in on a daily basis. It was almost as if she was looking for something to worry about, because that was what she was so used to having. And when we think about it, this episode is about breakthrough. But there are times when maybe we're on the verge of breakthrough. And Jennifer mentioned this in in the interview where she talked about how so many people get so close to breakthrough and they don't quite get there. It's kind of like that with after you've experienced a breakthrough from brokenness as well, of always thinking something bad is going to happen. There has to be some disaster that's waiting around the corner.
Michelle Rayburn 02:51
The problem then is that we begin to self-sabotage. And we never truly experience the joy that we're supposed to experience that God has mapped out for us. He wants us to live a joyful life. And sometimes we stand in our own way. So this episode is going to be about experiencing breakthrough from past pain. But it's also going to be about what we do after that breakthrough. John 10:10 reminds us that the enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy, but Jesus has come so that we can have life and we can have it abundantly.
Michelle Rayburn 03:25
So often my own frustration, my own worry, my own pain holds me back from experiencing that wonderful, abundant life that he has come to offer us. As we go into the interview today, and as I talk with Jennifer, I want you to be thinking about your own experience and the way that you've experienced some kind of bondage from something that's happened to you in the past, whether it was some kind of verbal abuse, or trauma or physical abuse, or anything that has stopped you from experiencing the abundant life that Jesus came to offer you. Today's episode is about breakthrough, like I said, but it's about you personally, and what God's putting on your heart. So as you listen to Jennifer talk about her story, I hope you find ways that you can connect and relate in what God's asking you to do in your next step. My interview with Jennifer is coming up right after a word from our sponsor.
Michelle Rayburn 04:23
This episode is brought to you by the book and Bible study called The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure. Are there experiences you'd rather toss in the dumpster? Discover the repurposed and upcycled life. This Christian living and humor book and accompanying Bible study will help you see how some of your greatest disappointments, mistakes and hurts can be beautiful treasures from God. Move forward with new purpose even in the midst of the trashy stuff of life. The workbook includes small group discussion Bible study doodles to color and optional at-home at applications each week. This is a study for busy women—with easy prep for leaders and very little homework for participants. This simple format is welcome for busy women who are looking for deeper relationships with one another without the burden of extra homework. You'll find more about the best-selling book The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure at www.michellerayburn.com.
Michelle Rayburn 05:32
Today, I'm happy to welcome Jennifer Watson. She is an author and a co-host of the More Than Small Talk podcast. She's the mother of two teenagers and a fierce advocate for anyone walking through trauma from broken relationships and systems. Jennifer is the author of the book Freedom: The Gutsy Pursuit Of Breakthrough and the Life Beyond It. We'll be talking about that today, talking about a little bit more of Jennifer's story, and about how she got that passion for helping people break free from the trauma of broken relationships. Here's my interview with Jennifer Watson. Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me today.
Jennifer Watson 06:10
Thank you so much for having me.
Michelle Rayburn 06:13
So I've heard your name on the More Than Small Talk podcast. And I'll link to that in the show notes for our listeners. And I've met both of your cohosts at a writers conference. But this is my first time getting to sit down and meet you face to face.
Jennifer Watson 06:25
Yeah. So excited to meet you. I know about you. And I think that we have a lot of connections. So I'm really glad we're finally getting to meet.
Michelle Rayburn 06:35
Yes! Your podcast starts with you talking about friends hanging out with a beverage. So I have a question for you. You mentioned three options every week in the intro. And I'm wondering which one you would choose between cup of coffee, mug of tea, or green smoothie?
Jennifer Watson 06:52
See, I'm the weirdo who likes all three. I would say like my go-to right now would be hot tea. And you know...
Michelle Rayburn 07:03
I go for the iced coffee not the mug of coffee.
Jennifer Watson 07:06
Yeah, Yeah, same.
Michelle Rayburn 07:08
I love that you added the green smoothie option in there because not everybody's coffee or tea.
Jennifer Watson 07:12
That would be Suzie. She's like, "No."
Michelle Rayburn 07:14
So what I really wanted to talk about today was your book, I was on vacation sitting by the fireplace, watching the waves come in on Lake Superior and reading your book. And I was highlighting and underlining and putting post-it notes in there. So I really wanted my listeners to hear you talk about Freedom: The Gutsy Pursuit of Breakthrough and the Life Beyond It. And I just want to get started with you talking about what was it that made you decide to write that particular book.
Jennifer Watson 07:46
I think that what I was feeling and what I was hearing from so many friends for so many years is we were circling the same issues, not getting anywhere. Like you know, we were telling the same stories, we were telling the same heartaches, we were you know—everything was kind of like deja vu all the time. Because it was always the same. So I felt like I was circling the area of like breakthrough and freedom. But then once I started pursuing it, with such a gutsy abandon, the woman with the issue of blood always has been like the person that I just admired so much because she never gave up. I just thought you have— That's a gutsy woman. And that if I'm going to experience healing from trauma, and if I'm going to experience a real breakthrough, I'm gonna have to go after it. And that means letting go of some things. And that means releasing some things. But it also means, you know, doing the really hard work that it takes to be free.
Michelle Rayburn 08:53
And listener, if you're not sure what that story is that Jennifer is talking about from the Bible, I'm gonna link to that in the show notes. It's from the book of John, and it's a woman who was pursuing healing. Jennifer, you talk about people pursuing healing in the book. And you said in the introduction that you've heard it said that most people spend their adulthood trying to get over their childhood. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Jennifer Watson 09:16
Yeah, I think that we all have, I mean, maybe not all. Maybe someone had a really happy like healthy childhood, but then they get into the middle school years, and then they experience like conflict or bullies are whatever. We all experience heartache, but when you come from a broken home, and you're raised by broken people, you see brokenness, as like a front row seat, it's dinner and a show and it's not a good show. And I can remember—I'm so grateful for all of it because I don't think that I would see people the way that I do if it wasn't for having two broken parents, one who really did the hard work to become free and left an abusive husband, my father, and who later became an alcoholic. I saw one woman pursue freedom and put two brown-eyed girls in the back of her car. And I watched one man spiral. And so I think that there's a lot of things in my childhood that I've blocked, thankfully, and there's a lot that I had to heal from, and say it wasn't my fault. It wasn't my job to fix them. But that's the role it took us the firstborn, you know, daughter.
Michelle Rayburn 10:35
I think about how even the listener who is not from the same type of broken home probably comes from some kind of brokenness, even if it's teasing, or something that happened at school, or self confidence that was broken by something in life. So I think we can resonate with your story, even if we haven't walked in your shoes. That's what I love about how you tell your story in the book.
Jennifer Watson 11:01
Yeah, I really do think that pain connects us. And that's the language that we understand is someone else's pain, even if their story is completely different. When we're talking to someone and we see their face and we see tears, we know, okay, that's pain talking, like, I get that.
Michelle Rayburn 11:19
You talk about how our pain might be attached to a face or a place, but that our healing is in the person of Jesus. What are some of the faces and places that people attach their pain to?
Jennifer Watson 11:32
I think maybe—I always call it the scene of the crime, like no one get is mended, or gets their treatments, at the scene of the crime with shattered glass, you know, they have to go somewhere else to heal. So I feel like the scene of the crime where that heartache happened, whether it was in church, whether it was at home, whether it was in the workplace, or at school, that we can connect it to a place where that happened. And our body responds differently when things remind us of that place. And it's the same with faces that we can visually think of people who have hurt us just like that, and recall every detail of their face. And when so I was like, I don't want this to hold weight. So what do I do? And it's the person of Jesus and saying, Okay, I can't go back to the I can't keep going back there to heal. I'm gonna find my healing of the person of Jesus Christ, because my healings already been paid for. It's a done deal. So why am I dragging my feet on some things?
Michelle Rayburn 12:36
What was that journey like for you?
Jennifer Watson 12:38
Really liberating. I am a natural people pleaser, I want to make everybody happy, I want to say yes to everything. And when I started looking at healthy relationships, and experiencing breakthrough, the biggest part of breakthrough for me was putting boundaries in place, and kind of pushing back a little bit, which is something that I didn't do. And I didn't stand up for myself. So all of a sudden, I felt this boldness, not to like be in someone's face, but to say, no, that's not right. And, you know, I can't, I can't have you talking to me like that, or I can't have you heard me like that. So in a lot of ways, it was very—
Jennifer Watson 13:20
I think freedom is very offensive to those who are not walking in it, or benefited from you not being free and broken. And so, I think that it felt good, but it was like, "Whoa. Who's this girl?" But I would say it was the biggest gift in my life to not back down to not shrink back. Because when you come from brokenness or have a lot of pain in your life, we shrink back and we hide, we go MIA. And I have friends like Holley and Suzie, they will not let me do that. And so I had to learn, okay, I can break with them. You know, like I can break in front of them because they're safe. So yeah, a lot of ways it was the sweetest, most liberating, most painful thing ever such a good forward movement for freedom.
Michelle Rayburn 14:15
So many people think that healing involves perfection, like there are no more scars. And one of the things I love is that you talk about the purpose of those scars as well. One of my writer friends talks about God using her broken. I've seen so many social media posts about how— that actually imply that we have to be perfect before God can use us in some way. So what have you discovered about that?
Jennifer Watson 14:42
That's not true at all. You know, I think that that's what you fear, right? Is that that there's no way that God could use this hot mess right now. And he's just like, "Why are you trying to clean yourself up and do my job?" You know, he can use every stage of our life. And I've seen him in the moments, I think, okay, I probably need to take a break from, like, recording or traveling and speaking to work through this big issue that I'm going through. It has not once happened that way. It's like, you know, you're gonna work through this, and you're gonna let people see you. And you're gonna be, like, honest about it. What is that all about? Because perfectionism is hiding in so many ways. It's a mask. And that's usually driven by fear. But saying, "No, I'll show up messy," that's brave.
Michelle Rayburn 15:40
You're brave in how you tell your story in the book, and that's what really resonated with me is that you're not pretentious. You just put it out there. And this is who I am. This is what God has done in my life. And I think the the reader and the listener who's listening to our conversation today would find that encouraging and refreshing. So, thank you for being vulnerable. Because I, I'm somebody who when I'm reading, I can spot a fake and, and yours was real, I loved it.
Jennifer Watson 16:09
Thank you. That's the best compliment ever. Thank you.
Michelle Rayburn 16:12
So how did this change your way of living like your outlook on life, when you experienced that freedom for the first time?
Jennifer Watson 16:20
I think that it became the pattern, right? It was like making this freedom journey, being gutsy, like, you know, going hard for healing, like doing all of these things, doing the hard work going to therapy, which I'm still in, you know, doing, exploring all of these avenues, talking about mental health, it just— I think it brings me freedom, because I know it's not just about me, that my freedom journey isn't just for me or about me, it has to be about community. Because I think we cannot be free alone. And we cannot heal alone, we heal in community. And most of the time we've been broken in community. So, I think that it's just the most empowering thing in the world to say, no, I remember not living free. Like, I'm not going back there.
Michelle Rayburn 17:13
Your journey affects the next generation as well. And you're raising daughters, correct?
Jennifer Watson 17:19
Michelle Rayburn 17:19
So have you seen this affect your parenting or even how they're growing up compared to how you grew up?
Jennifer Watson 17:26
Yeah, I think that there is. There was a lot of verbal abuse in my family, and some hitting, which wasn't terrible. But that's also what abused people say it wasn't that bad. So when you've come from a situation where there was abuse, you become very tolerant of it. You've got a high tolerance for like taking and putting up with it. So what I do for my girls, is when I see them hurting, I've had one, one, or both girls, at one point have said, "I feel depressed." And so I talk about it openly and say, here's what I went through. And where are you on this level? Like, what do you need? So they they get a lot of freedom in that they get to be messy, they get to cry, they get to have those moments where they don't want to go to church, and not let them— I let them ask hard questions. And the other day, my daughter was just like—I had to make a really big decision a few months ago. And it was the hardest thing that I've ever done. And so I was very honest with them—And one of my daughters just looked at me and started crying. And she said, "You're so brave, I'm really proud of you. That was hard." So I think that we're speaking over each other in a way that you can, you can do this, you can make it through anything. And I think that I want to see them confidence. I want them to hear themselves talking nice about themselves and their heads. So that's something that they're not there at all. They're teenagers, of course not. But um, please don't beat yourself up over this. So I really stress, like, talk nice to yourself in your head. Take a deep breath like you can handle this. Yeah, so a lot of pep talks.
Michelle Rayburn 19:19
I don't know if most of my adult listeners talk nice to themselves inside of their heads.
Jennifer Watson 19:26
They don't. I mean, that's what we do, right? We beat ourselves up. One moment that I'm thinking about is, I had a moment where I bought I felt like I bombed every single episode that we were recording that day. And they could see me like struggling it out and I was thinking everything is just gonna be a mess. They just need to like cut me out of this and everything will be fine. And I was leaving and that started to tear up and Holly said, "I want you to talk to yourself like you would to me. Like, on your way home talk to yourself like you would me." There was no way that I would ever put her down or say, you know, "What happened?" None of that. I'd say, "What do you need?" Like, "It's fine, you know?" And then later as episodes aired, they were fine. But it was just that moment of insecurity, and once it creeps in, and like, it hijacks everything. So yeah, I think that most adult women, especially do not talk nice to themselves. And I think that that's one way to stay in chains.
Michelle Rayburn 20:36
It is. It's something that I do now with friends, because somebody did with me...In fact, I just did that in a text message today, where somebody was telling me what they're struggling with, and feeling that shame, feeling some guilt. And then I asked her to tell me what she would say if I had just shared that. And oftentimes, we can say something to somebody else. And it's hard for us to receive it ourselves. So I love that you gave that as a reminder, for the listener who's listening today, I'm bringing you the story today and introducing you to Jennifer because of how she talks about brokenness. And she talks about how brokenness is meant to be the backstory and the catalyst and not the lead character in our stories. And friends, I know that oftentimes we do make our brokenness the lead character in our stories. Jennifer, how do you address that?
Jennifer Watson 21:26
I think that that's normal. Right? We see the highlight reel on social media, see all that, you know, but we don't post the messy. But I think that— I think it's just a really powerful thing. When we say no, you don't get steal my story. Like, you know, my brokenness. No, that was just— That was a launchpad into, you know, what God's called me to do. Every single broken place in my life has been used for a greater purpose. I don't want to be the poster child for a broken home, or depression and anxiety. But God has used that beyond what I could ever imagine. And that is where real ministry happened in the messiness of my story. And working it out with people watching me with people getting to hear my heart on those messy days that I would write about it. So I think that we cannot let the broken pieces of our story be the ending. No, it's just like, it's just a chapter. It's just a chapter. And we can build from that.
Michelle Rayburn 22:35
That's a healthy perspective. I've noticed sometimes when I've been at events, and a speaker will be brought in to talk about some really big struggle they've had in their life. And sometimes we get stuck on telling, like 95% of the really tragic part, and then finished with a little bit of oh, and Jesus worked it out.
Jennifer Watson 22:56
Michelle Rayburn 22:58
I love that when you're telling your story, you give enough of the backstory. So we know the struggle was real. But then you spend 95% of your time showing how we work it out and how Jesus is the solution, which really helps us then to know what to do instead of, "Well, I can relate to your story. But now what?"
Jennifer Watson 23:18
Yeah, exactly. Well, and something that Suzie said, when I was writing the book, she said, "Be prepared to be talking about this for five years." So I was like, whoa, wait, what? And so...She had shared that some of these things, she was tired of talking about. And so when I wrote this, I really wanted to write about it from an honest place. But I wanted to write about it from a, you know, like, not a Debbie Downer moment, but like a like, "hey, let's do this together" moment that I can keep talking about for years and years and years. Like that will never be tired for me. And it's really cool to see what resonates with others. And so I think that that's what I love more than anything, is someone saying something that I wrote, and I'm like, wait, wow, like I can use anything, you know.
Michelle Rayburn 24:09
Speaking of something you wrote, I had marked something in the book, where you said, uh, you were talking about issues. And you said, "When we surrender them to God, we not only open the door to conquering them, but we also unlock the gate to our true purpose in life. Where the enemy of our souls tries to shame us, the power of God wants to shine through us. We are beacons of hope, not damaged goods. Before each breakthrough, you will find a decision point where you keep going or shrink back." You talk about how our issues are not meant to be limitations. I'm wondering, what do you say to the people who are really struggling to find that breakthrough who are stuck in that shame?
Jennifer Watson 24:48
Well, it takes a really long time, right? And I think removing the shame from working through struggles needs to be one of the first things that we do to approach someone and say, "Listen," you know? A lot of moving forward in our stories is not throwing shame at ourselves, not listening to the enemy when he tries to throw it back at us. And so to be prepared, but there is a moment that I feel like it clicks, you know, where there's a moment whether we're on our face crying and praying, or we're driving in our car, and we hear a song, there is that moment where something shifts in our spirit and we go, "Okay, I've passed. I want to pass this test." And I want to like, I don't want to keep repeating this. And so I think that it really has to be like, okay, that's what it was. That's how I can place this. And then, you know, see what God wants to do with it.
Michelle Rayburn 25:48
I think there are times where we're also not equipped for how to speak to other people who are going through this. I'm thinking of how in some of the church circles, I mean, I've grown up in the church. So I've been—just say I've been part of church for more than 50 years—I don't think we're well-equipped for how to speak to somebody in the middle of trying to get through and that breakthrough point coming because we keep going back to their shame. Do you do some kind of teaching and training to help people learn how to how to be more helpful to others?
Jennifer Watson 26:21
I have really learned a lot about being trauma informed. And we say a lot of horrible things. We say a lot of cliches that feel like slaps in their faces. And it's not from a bad place. It's from a uncomfortable place. Because other people's pain makes us uncomfortable. And really, we don't have to give people all the answers, because we don't know them ourselves. But if you can sit with someone and let them talk through their trauma, and be a safe person, that's all you have to do. You know, it's just let them show up messy without the need to find that one phrase, or Scripture that's going to fix them.
Michelle Rayburn 27:06
Jennifer Watson 27:08
The fixing. Because it's not our job. But we can be there. So yeah, I think more than ever, especially in this season. Being someone who's a real advocate for trauma, and for those who are hurting is a really important, and I'm probably going to tackle some of that. There's a lot to tackle. But in my next book, I really want to learn even more, because I've been there to where I've said the dumb stuff.
Michelle Rayburn 27:37
Oh, I do it all the time.
Jennifer Watson 27:39
And so that's that's the thing, but I can speak to the other side and say, "They didn't mean to. They don't know." And so, but some people don't want to know. And you know those people. And that's why you don't go to those people, you know?
Michelle Rayburn 27:55
Yeah, we do. We discover who the safe people are. The hardest thing is also sometimes where we keep bringing up somebody's shame to the point where they feel like they're disqualified from ever moving beyond the struggle. And I've been more aware of how my own past legalism has contributed to that as well. And how, you know, you talked about the woman with the issue of bleeding. Jesus is in the business of healing people. And so I remind myself that I need to contribute to the healing part and not to the hurt. Even though in church, I've been part of contributing to the hurt for far too long. Can you think of circumstances where you have felt hopeless, and all you could do is reach out to God?
Jennifer Watson 28:43
Yes. Just a few months ago, I was like, in the just kind of putting on makeup getting ready for the day. And I just kind of said, "God, this is like a disaster. This is a complete nightmare." And then it was like, you know, just something inside me said that "you're still standing. You're still showing up." And so it looks hopeless. But it's not because there's moments where I don't feel hopeless. But the moment the heaviness, or the decision that I had to make seems like a hopeless situation. But if I can get to the point where I don't feel hopeless, that I can handle some messy, bad moments, I can handle that I can handle that knowing it's temporary, that everything that we face or feel is temporary.
Michelle Rayburn 29:43
I found that when I'm tired, I'm the most vulnerable Do you have? Do you know yourself to know when you're the most vulnerable?
Jennifer Watson 29:49
Yes, tired and hungry.
Michelle Rayburn 29:52
Jennifer Watson 29:55
And mainly when I am just one working so hard and trying to keep everything afloat, and trying to keep my family together, like trying to do all of these things. And then I realize there's not enough of me to go around. I cry very easily and about stupid stuff. Like, I'm just tired, you know, and then I'm like, "I'm sorry. I'm just like, really tired." You know? And...
Michelle Rayburn 30:26
I don't know why I have the need to apologize too, but when I cry, I do feel like I need to say I'm sorry. And yet, if somebody else says, "I'm sorry," I'm like, "Hey, you, you can cry. It's okay." Some people are stuffers. And some people wear their heart on their sleeve. And I'm somewhere in the middle there, I think. In one place in your book, you said something profound happened when you finally embraced a "moving on" mindset. And you said, "Freedom would look a lot like changing my mindset to mirror the promises of God." That really struck me because my mindset is often controlled by my own hurt, or my own emotions, and all of those things. And the mindset of God is so clear from Scripture. And yet, I don't always go there first. So do you have any tips for how you get into that mindset that mirrors the promises of God?
Jennifer Watson 31:20
Yes. I, when I see myself in that pattern that everything I say in my head is negative. I go hmm. So there's certain things that I start thinking or say in my head that I wouldn't say out loud, that I go, okay, red flag, you know, like, what do you need to not feel that way? And so I think it's just catching, catching ourselves and like saying, "No, I'm not gonna go there." Like I've said, no, I'm not going to go into the shame spiral. Or I'm not going to just be afraid all the time. But I would have to shut it down. And then you have to replace it with the truth. Even in counseling, when you are going through EMDR, or other kinds of therapies where you are telling a lie that the enemy spoke over you or someone else spoke over you, you don't just leave it at that. You replace that, that memory, that thought with the truth. And then that's what you can move forward in. And that is a mending mindset. It's just saying, "Hey, I've got this, and this is heavy. And these thoughts are wrecking me. How do I get rid of them?"
Jennifer Watson 32:33
And it's kind of like, piece by piece, right? Untangle the lies that you've wrapped around your identity. And you say, "Well, this is what God says about me. And I'm gonna bank on this," other than how I feel or even what people speak over us, or how they respond to us. Before, I felt so much, just guilt and shame and unworthiness, based on how someone would would respond to me. And I don't do that anymore. I'm like, "You're not Jesus, you know," [unclear]... and I don't take it into my heart anymore. But that was a huge process of practicing that.
Michelle Rayburn 33:17
We need a mug that says "You're not Jesus," reminding us.
Jennifer Watson 33:22
[Laughter] Yeah. Not Jesus, like this is not yours.
Michelle Rayburn 33:25
You have gutsy prayers at the end of every chapter, and you talk in the book about being a gutsy girl. What do you say to the listener today? Who wants to be that gutsy girl, but she thinks she isn't strong enough?
Jennifer Watson 33:38
Yeah. You know what, I think people are doing better than they think. You know, I think we're really hard on ourselves. And the first thing I would say is, I think that you are stronger than you think. I think that you are braver than you think. Every day, you do hard things. That you can be gutsy. You can be brave. And being brave is doing things afraid, right? It's not waiting until the fear leaves. It's just showing up in the fear, in the unknown, and saying, "I'm not going to let this win. I'm not going to let this get me."
Michelle Rayburn 34:17
I think about like, even the first time I had a speaking event 20-some years ago, how I was shaking, my mouth was so dry. I couldn't. I don't know. I don't even know if the words came out coherently. And yet, you can't just stop doing it in that moment. So I don't know why in the other everyday things when we're not on a stage why it's sometimes harder to just take the next step and do the thing.
Jennifer Watson 34:45
Yeah, well, it's easier to lay down. Easier to binge another show on Netflix.
Michelle Rayburn 34:53
Or eat a brownie.
Jennifer Watson 34:55
Oh, I eat my feelings all the time. But when we pay attention, Oh, that's brave, and it's hard, and it's uncomfortable. But I think that— I think that that's real good. See, I think that that's real—really puts us in a place of real breakthrough, not just almost there. Because most people stop right before the breakthrough.
Michelle Rayburn 35:20
You know, that's good. Okay. Say that again.
Jennifer Watson 35:23
Most people stop right before their breakthrough. They give up then, when they're right on the edge of it. Like they're the right there. Yeah, a little more pressing, a little more hard, a little more crying about it, a little more therapy, like, you can like, get on the other side of those things that were tripping you up. And once you do, you're like: No, no, only new issues only. No. Not that things don't surface in our hearts, like insecurity, or abandonment, different things like that. But once we start defeating those, like we can stay in that zone.
Michelle Rayburn 36:07
I can recognize when the shadow of something comes up again that I've wrestled with in the past. It doesn't overtake me, but yet I can still you know, we don't always feel it. Sometimes my feelings tell me... They bring back the old hurt.
Jennifer Watson 36:23
Michelle Rayburn 36:25
Yeah, you address that in your book, too. I know, toward the end, you talk about what if I'm not there yet? I would love to have people be able to connect with you online, Jennifer. So where can they find you?
Jennifer Watson 36:36
Okay, they can find me on Facebook @JenniferReneeWriter. That will get them to my page. And then on Instagram it's just plain old @JenniferWatson. And then I have a website, JenniferReneewatson.com. And that's very, very long. But that's where they can find me. And I love connecting with people. Like I think that that's one of my most favorite things is... because I think that you can get really close to people you don't even know, and it's sharing our stories together.
Michelle Rayburn 37:08
I will link to that in the show notes to your website and socials so people can find you there. I do want people to also pick up Freedom: The Gutsy Pursuit of Breakthrough and the Life Beyond It. So I will link to that as well. Listener, Jennifer is passionate about talking with those who are struggling to break free from brokenness, those who are working through trauma from abuse, while learning how to stand up for themselves in ways they never thought possible. Jennifer, what would you like to leave with our listeners today as we wrap up?
Jennifer Watson 37:40
That they are amazing, and they're doing so much better than they even know. And to keep showing up. Maybe it's taking a lot of time for a breakthrough, but you're almost there.
Michelle Rayburn 37:53
Thank you so much for sharing today.
Jennifer Watson 37:55
Oh, thank you so much for having me. This has been great.
Michelle Rayburn 38:01
You will find the show notes for this episode at Michellerayburn.com/ 137. There I will have links to everything we talked about in this episode, the Scriptures that we mentioned, a link to Jennifer's book and the podcasts that she's on—all the things. So you'll find that in the show notes there. Thank you so much for being with me this week. I'll be back in two weeks with another episode.
Michelle Rayburn 38:24
You've been listening to Life Repurposed with Michelle Rayburn. Check out tips, resources, and inspiration at Michellerayburn.com and to get the show notes for this episode. Each week I share links to everything mentioned in the episode, graphics you can share, and guest quotes. I also invite you to join the Life Repurposed Facebook community for weekly conversation with others on the journey of discovering the repurposed life. Before you go, which friend needs to hear this episode? Share a link with a note to invite them to listen.
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