My Brave Story- Sarah Johnson

I remember the first time I met this mama! We had both just had our first babies (17 days apart) and were in the nursing moms room at church. She was so friendly and it was so easy to talk to her! She has always inspired me with her facebook posts and her way of reaching out to people. She has a bubbly personality and sense of humor that could fill any room you walk into. Sara is married to a farmer in which she manages the animals and takes care of everything else, besides paying the bills. Sara alongside her husband Andy has assisted to reach out in helping numerous people with their fitness journey's, also participating in Andy's challenge groups. Sara does a lot of "behind the scenes" work for her husband Andy by helping him edit some of his blogs, helping create videos and find inspiration on Pinterest. Check out their website at http://farmstrongcoaching.com/. One other part of her job that is overlooked by some people these days is Sara's main job. Sara has been living her dream job as a stay-at-home mother raising her two beautiful blonde headed babes! What an amazing and important job! One thing that Sarah wants to portray to each and every woman who reads her story is that God is always there, ever present and is for us and not against us in every trial we face. Let's dive into her story! 

-Kirste

God is always there, ever present and is for us and not against us in every trial we face. Let’s dive into her story! -Sarah Johnson
 Sarah, her husband Andy, Dahlia and Calvin! 

Sarah, her husband Andy, Dahlia and Calvin! 

Like so many others, my church life started at birth, but my relationship with God didn’t. That took a couple decades, selective and legalistic teachings and a lot of rebellion. My home life was very volatile growing up. Getting out the door to go to church was often mayhem, but we attended three times a week and I found refuge in leaving the chaos at the door and spending time in a space void of fighting. During my first thirteen years I was taught that if I gave my life to God I would be rich and blessed. If life was hard and I was scared it was because I didn’t have enough faith. In the 3rd grade an authority in my life taught that we needed to be re-saved every time we sinned. Can you imagine? Anyways, moving on. Life always seemed hard and I was often scared, so I came to two conclusions: 1.) I would never have enough faith and therefore 2.) God didn’t love me as much as the other girls I knew who weren’t scared.

I have long since been able to look back and see how God protected me along the way. My two older brothers guarded me from the worst, (sometimes literally), and my dad’s side of the family was close by and very loving. Life was not void of beauty, love or fun, but I didn’t see God in it because I didn’t see Him in our home. My parents separated again when I was ten and were divorced when I was eleven. I understood very little at the time, but what I knew is that life was calmer when they were apart and that made me happy. I stayed with my mom and it turned into a “me and her against the world” type of scenario. Unfortunately, that would prove to be our relationship’s undoing as we decided life would be what we made it and we would do it on our own. My mom worked hard and loved me completely, but she was my idol and I was hers. We unraveled in my late teens and wove back together in my late twenties.

I continued attending church, joined small groups, went to camp, became a leader in the youth group and told God I wanted whatever He had for me (except for Africa... please God don’t send me to Africa). My heart yearned for relationship but my childhood experience warned against vulnerability. In my teenage years I learned that I could love others with such devotion and that they would expect very little else from me, namely vulnerability. This bled into every personal relationship I had and kept me from being immersed in the most important one. God expected vulnerability and I was unwilling.

At this point I think it’s important to note that I was oblivious. I was not willfully unwilling, rebellious or “gray” in my relationship with God. It was not my intent to manipulate people into expecting very little from me. I did not see my walk with God as lacking in any way. All of these things were coping mechanisms that the enemy wove into my daily life with the introduction of each new struggle.

My breaking point was when I was 19. A young man told me he had a vision and we were supposed to get married. He was very active in the church and, as I mentioned before, I wanted whatever God had for me. I thought that surely a vision was not to be ignored, and I had always been taught to “date your mate!" I said yes, told my family and started planning, all without talking to God about it. It didn’t take long for me to recognize that it was a wrong decision. I couldn’t verbalize why it was wrong, but I didn’t have peace about it so I ended the relationship with him and, not long after, with God. I was angry. I was scared. I was disappointed in myself. I was convinced that I was incapable of hearing God’s voice. Can we all just take a second to love on my 19 year old self? It was the still small voice that lead me to end that relationship, yet I was convinced that God didn’t love me enough to talk to me. For the next five years I ran.

In hindsight I understand that I was tired of fighting. I was tired because I had been fighting on my own! Taking on the world one disappointment, betrayal, heartache, rejection and failure at a time. Trying desperately to reach a point where I had enough faith that God would love me and I could be blessed. I decided that if life was going to be so hard then I was going to have fun along the way and I found fun in sin. The “fun” didn’t take away any of the fore-mentioned trials, if anything they multiplied. But, I put my head down and made a daily decision to be numb.

When I was 24 years old and away on a vacation, friends signed me up for a dance class. It was three months long and not inexpensive. I tried to say no but they insisted. My dance teacher’s name was Andy and he was in college, that was all I knew. He soon became my dance partner because my original partner took another job and couldn’t make it work. After 3 months the whole class was invited to Andy’s college graduation party but I was the only one who attended (except for his parents who were also in the class, I had no idea)! A few days afterwards he asked me on a date and then he invited me to church.

Northern Colorado Cowboy Church. We’d meet in a barn, gather under the heat lamps and use the port-o-john outside in the winter. I didn’t have to dress the part or even pretend I cared, but I did because they did. I felt so very broken but I would stand next to Andy and listen to him sing. Then I would sit and hear messages about trials and victories, love and forgiveness. For the first time I was being taught the truth about God’s grace, that it is not a ticket to live however I like but I also don’t have to live in a state of constant guilt and self-loathing.

 

A couple years in and I was feeling great! Aware enough to know the road ahead was not without challenges, but feeling secure in my faith. Andy and I were married, planning our future and attending church. But God knew. God knew my heart and my non-negotiable and it was time to tackle the beast. Vulnerability. This confrontation caught me off guard, to say the least. I’m sitting her chuckling as I type because it got ugly. I was stubborn, unhappy and ready for a fight in my marriage but I didn’t know why! God started a battle with the devil and the beast that had sat dormant for so long was awakened and unhappy about it. Once I caught on, my instinct was to side with the devil on this one. Here I was, in the best place I’d ever been and refusing His vulnerability. I truly felt picked on but I knew where running lead, so I gave it to God. At first a little at a time because I didn’t understand how many layers had accumulated. I wasn’t trying to hold back, I just didn’t know how to let go. He has been working on me ever since and it hasn’t been without discomfort, but the joy! Oh the joy!

My dad has been back in my life full-time for a little over a decade. We have grown very close and our relationship often makes me laugh as we skim the line of parent/child and friends. Two weeks ago he came over for a visit. We were talking when he wrapped me in his arms and told me he was sorry. Sorry to have left. Sorry for the hurt it caused. Sorry for the decisions he made. At first I was caught off guard. As a proud daughter of the King I felt so far removed from our past, but as his little girl it meant a lot. And you know what? God never misses an opportunity to have me choose vulnerability.

God is good. All the time.