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Gut-punching your Fear & Shame: Heather Holleman

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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February 28, 2023 5:15 am

Gut-punching your Fear & Shame: Heather Holleman

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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February 28, 2023 5:15 am

Want to walk out on the fight for acceptance? Ditch fear? Leap free from shame-cycles? Heather Holleman's got the key: staying seated in Christ.

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All right, so if you could pick one spiritual truth, you know, just out of any that's transformed you the most, if there's one. And again, I didn't tell you I'm going to ask you this, so it's just, you know, I think I know what you're going to say, but I don't know. I have no idea what I'm going to say.

What do you think I'm going to say? What? You really don't? You can't put me on the spot like that. There's so many. The spiritual truth. I mean that I am loved.

I mean that Jesus is enough. There's so many different things. What were you going to say?

Because you've thought about it. Well, that's what we're going to be talking about today. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. We've been talking about identity with Heather Holloman from her book Seated with Christ, which is a lot about identity, who we are and where we are seated with Christ. You're a professor at Nittany Lion College, Penn State, and you teach students every day, but this is like a theme of who you are, right? Right. Yeah. So, I mean, when I thought about that, I thought that truth, for me, might be transformative. And yeah, there's different spiritual truths that hit you at different times, but I think foundationally understanding that, as Paul said, the one who God raised from the dead lives in me. Yeah. If that isn't life changing, we do not get it.

You've got to be kidding me. The resurrected Christ says, I'm worthy and wants my body, my soul to be His temple and reside here. Amazing. If that doesn't change me, and everything I do, I don't understand it. Walking in Michigan at this time of year is unbelievable because if you don't live in a state where the leaves are red and they're so vibrant. And as I was walking and I'm seeing this absolute display of beauty, I'm looking at the artistry of God. Like, God, you created this.

You should go on walks with her every 30 seconds. Look at that tree. Oh my gosh, God is amazing. And then these deer coming around, and I'm thinking, the Creator of all of this abides in me.

He died for me. He lives in me. The power, like, of this Creator, that He lives in me.

And I live sometimes like, there's nothing going on but this old broken down lady is trying to get by in the day. That God lives in me. It's amazing. And the truth of that should be transformative.

I'm amazed at that. Well, Heather, if we know that, why do we struggle not to live that passionately every second of every day of our life? I feel like we forget. We're forgetful.

We don't know how to keep in step with God's Spirit. I think we have to constantly renew our minds, be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I feel like it's a daily practice.

Well, it's interesting. You said yesterday, you know, from achievement to abiding, I think it's very easy to abide or think or meditate over and over and over on achievement. You know, I look at things, I dream about things, whether it's possessions or a position I'll get to someday in my life. I mean, it's like meditation. You know, it's like I think about it over and over and over. If we took that focus, that energy, and said, I'm going to abide, I'm going to focus on Christ, would that transform the way we think?

Well, it did for me. And God used Philippians 2.13. It's a very weird little passage in Philippians. It says, For it is God who is at work in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. And in the Greek, it essentially says, God's going to give you the desire and ability to accomplish the things he has planned for you. If I meditate on that, it's not about achievement anymore. It's this sort of beautiful exploration, like, God, what are the instructions for today?

What do you want me to do for you? What are the good works prepared? And then I don't think about achieving. I think about, I do like hard work, like we talked about, but it's not motivated by needing to impress or achieve. It's more, like you said, just abiding to figure out what is it, God, and knowing that I'm indwelt with Christ.

And that passage says, He'll lead me to the things he has planned for me. Now, how do you balance that in the Christian world? Because you're an author. You write books. You want them to sell.

You want them to do well. And we're talking about her book, Seated with Christ. Yeah. And so, and we've done that as well.

And then you can see, like, how's my book doing compared to others? It's terrible. How's my Instagram account? Yeah, we live in the influencer world. I mean, our social media girl that helps us is like, we got to get you more followers. I'm like, why? Really?

Yes. It's a poison to the soul. But it's like this achievement thing that's in the church and in the Christian world as well. It's really hard to do well.

For me, it always feels a little toxic and poisonous and dangerous. So if you follow me, you'll notice I'm not great on social media. But two things helped me with that. First is when Seated with Christ started to sell, my great publicist said, you know, Moody likes to focus on impact, not sales.

That really helped shift me to think about impact, not sales. The other thing is a little passage in the Old Testament. You know, God will accomplish his purposes, whether by many or by few.

And sort of surrendering to the fact, you know, if God calls you to do something and the impact is one person for eternity, you know, that is enough. Like one of my books I wrote, Guarded by Christ, is the least selling book. Nobody ever talks about it. Hardly anyone reads it. I do speak on it. But I was really struggling with, okay, I wrote a book that was a failure.

Well, I went to a church event and a woman came up to me and she said, I just want to introduce myself. My son went to prison this year and I just want you to know that every night I fall asleep holding your book, Guarded with Christ, and I just cry with Jesus. And I thought, well, I wrote the book for you and you're probably the only one reading it, but that is enough. But it is a temptation. I don't know how you guys have handled that. I don't know what I would do if I became, you know, a New York Times bestseller. I don't know what the standard is now. I mean, I don't even know what counts as a bestseller in the Christian world.

Like how many do you have to sell before? So it's just a temptation and I guard against it and I keep the truth in front of me that God ordains the fruit and the impact of what we do. But it is hard. I have to fight it.

I have to battle the temptation. You know, one of the things you talk about in your book is the questions we need to answer and ask when we understand Seated with Christ. Yes. So you call them the four big questions. Should I just shoot them at you and you can riff on them? Sure.

Yeah. Is knowing Jesus better than anything? Well, once you're seated with Christ, what I found was it's a perfect, safe place to then begin all the mature transformation that you need because you're completely secure. No one's going to take that seat from you.

You didn't even earn the seat. It's just sitting there and God invites you to take a seat. So once you're there, I really wanted to ask God, is there anything that's an idol in my heart?

So when I asked the question, is there anything in my—how did I phrase it? Is knowing Jesus better than anything? Because I thought if I really believe that, then I can surrender my entire life to Him because there's nothing better than knowing Him and being with Him in the heavenly realms. I realized that day when I—writing in my journal, God, knowing you is better than anything, even better than any life I could design or imagine for myself.

Yeah. So then I was just set free. You know, what is better than knowing Him? Seriously, what is better than knowing Him and what would anyone pay for a single encounter with the living God? It's priceless. I mean, it's just overwhelming when you think about it.

You have Jesus. There's really nothing else that compares. And if you can think of something else that's better— Then it's an idol, yeah. Then I would say, but you don't know Him yet.

You haven't experienced His love, His transformation. I mean, does anything come to both your minds that you think if there is a blank to fill in, this would be close? This is what comes to me first when I think, ah, this would be awesome.

Anything? It's different at different times. Like, right now, I feel like as I'm getting older, health becomes an idol. Like, I think if only I were guaranteed health. Like, I had three surgeries last year, and you can quickly become focused on your health and your body. So I like to think, you know, outwardly we're wasting away, but inwardly we're renewed day by day. And I'd rather be, you know, in a surgery unit with Jesus than anywhere else without Him.

You know what I mean? And, you know, Joni Eareckson Todd has said that. That's why I asked her to write the foreword to my book. I don't know if you all were there when she spoke for a crew staff training. She said, I'd rather be in my wheelchair knowing Jesus than be given a chance to walk without Him. And when she said that, I thought to myself, I do not know Jesus like she does. I just don't.

I remember her saying that too and thinking the same thing. I don't know. Yeah. Or like Horatio Spofford or Corrie ten Boom, these people that suffer profoundly, and yet they know that Jesus is better than anything. So that is something that I had to come to terms with. Yeah, I think another way to phrase the question is, is Jesus enough?

Yeah. And I often think we say yes, but we want Jesus and… Yes, comfort. I don't need something horrible, but just could I have a good marriage? Could I have a husband that loved me? Could I have children that don't walk away?

Could I get pregnant? Yeah, I mean, there's so many things that are good things. There's nothing wrong with any of those things, but does it compete with is He really, truly all by Himself enough? I can remember the first time I read Romans 12, 1 and 2 as a teenager. I gave my life to Jesus when I was 16, but I remember reading, Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

This is your true and proper worship. And then it goes on to say, Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And I remember reading that and rereading that and rereading that, and I had this vision, because I had also just read the Chronicles of Narnia. So, I had this vision of the altar, and I remember thinking as that young woman, like, can I lay my body and all that I am and all that I hope to be and all my future and all of my desires, can I lay them on the altar and let God have all of me? And that was a big decision. And I ended up doing that.

And I really pretty much do it every day. I've given my life to Jesus, but I have to re-surrender all of my desires. And I remember being over in Israel, teaching this scripture on the Sea of Galilee with a group of women. And again, there is this altar, this big stone altar.

And I asked them, Can you get on that with your kids? The older you get, sometimes the harder, because now you've got your people, and you've got your grandkids, and there's so much. And I'm asking you as a listener, can you lay all of yourself before Him? Everything, everything that you have, is He good enough?

He's a good, good Father. Can you give your life and all that you have to Him? That has been the most transformative thing I've ever done in my entire life. And I remember a woman in Israel, when I had taught that, she got up and she laid down on that altar. And she said, here's what she said. She said, Anne, I can't put my arms out.

I can't stretch my arms out. I have to protect myself. And I remember asking her, Karen, what is it?

She goes, I'm realizing there's something I'm holding onto. I will not let Him have it. And so, it's interesting to even ask that question. Is there anything I'm holding onto that I just don't trust Jesus to have it? That's good.

I mean, that's your second question. Will I live the life God asked me to? This was probably one of the most powerful moments of my life. I was driving down a road in Michigan. It was winter. I remember exactly where I was.

There was a barn on the right. And I was really depressed. I had postpartum depression. Our marriage was falling apart with my husband. I didn't want to be married anymore.

I had a surprise pregnancy. And everything was going wrong. I hated everything that had happened in my life. And I was so depressed and really had lost my mind, I feel like. And I was in therapy. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with this baby, this husband that I wasn't happy.

Everything was miserable. And I'm driving down that road. And it's the only time in my life that I feel like God really spoke to me.

It wasn't an audible voice, but it was 100 percent a divine moment. And the question that came to my mind was, will you live the life I ask you to? And literally in that car, I was like, even if I'm fat, because I had gained so much weight from my pregnancy. These are things women ask. I gained like 50 pounds because of my thyroid disorder. I was like, even if I'm ugly, even if I have to stay in this marriage and have these children.

I listed out everything. And then I thought, well, will I live the life God asks me to, even if my worst fears come upon me? And I still do that today because children are leaving the house. They're driving.

We travel a lot. Do I give God permission to do whatever he wants with my children and husband? It's your altar. It's deep. So that act of surrender, though, when I said to the Lord, you know, bursting into tears, I knew this was going to be a life-changing moment for me. It was going to change my life forever. So I'm driving in that car, and I just remember I said, you know what? You can have all of me. I will live the life you ask me to. I will do whatever you ask me to do. My life belongs to you because I will mess up my life.

Whatever. Well, I walked in the door, and my husband says it was like he got his wife back. It's like my face had changed. And it was really that Romans 12 one. And I think my husband says it like this, that we were designed to consecrate our lives. We were actually made to surrender. And that's how we're happiest.

So it was a powerful moment. So will I live the life God asks me to is, you know, it is scary. I've had friends that have lost children.

I've had friends that have had cancer and have lost children to cancer. You know, I think about what would be the worst thing. And can you say to the Lord, I trust you. I'm living for eternity. Ash likes to call this our pre-life. So am I getting to the point where I trust in the goodness of God?

Plus, I don't know what's going to happen to the culture. We may experience persecution. We may experience things that are very painful. Are we willing to live the life God asks us to?

So question number two really did change my life. Yeah, that surrender moment. When I look back on mine, I often share it this way. I literally got on my knees in my bedroom after playing around with the Christian faith. I would say I was a Christian, but as I look back, I think this is my real salvation moment.

If he's not Lord, is he really just Savior? So long story short, I held on to football. I thought my future is going to be playing in the NFL, blow out my knee, don't even know if I'm going to play my senior season. I held on to a girlfriend that I thought was going to be my wife, caught her with another guy. That day, I go home to my hometown and walk in my bedroom, close the door, get on my knees, and literally say, okay, I surrender all. I was holding on. I didn't realize it until I saw that moment. I'm like, I've been holding on to these things. I want Jesus, but I want this and this. And when these are lined up with Jesus, when I realize these are the things I've controlled and look what happened. I can't.

No, we will destroy our lives. And so I got on my knees and I literally said, I'll go. I'll do anything you want me to do. It's a beautiful story because I end up meeting Anne the very next day. But here's as I think back to that moment. And I don't know, I've got a master's in divinity. I'm sure this theologically isn't how it works in heaven, but I picture this in heaven. Like when a person surrenders, like my moment, your moment, Jesus is like, are you serious? Okay, here we go. And the floodgates open for you.

Yeah. And so like, again, it doesn't mean there aren't trials and it could be really dark times ahead, but there's a sense where he can't do this until we surrender. And when we do, cause it's our decision, it's almost like he says, I've got a life you won't believe. It's totally different than what you think. It may involve no money.

It may involve a lot of money. I don't know, but I've got a life of impact that is going to be incredible that I couldn't unleash into your soul until you said, I surrender all. Now let's go again. Yeah, that's so great. You know, it's sort of like, and I look back on our life. We would have never chosen what we're doing now. What we're, this very moment is a surrender result. And it's so much better than what we could have planned.

It hasn't been easy by any respect, but it's so much better. And you're afraid to unleash that control. But when you do, you realize the one that loves you more than you love yourself has a plan that's better.

Trust Him. Well, it goes to your next question. Is there anything in my life that doesn't please God? When I hear that, I think that you're holding onto.

Is there anything that you are really having a hard time giving Him? Right, and what I like to think about is, because there's no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, this isn't a shameful process. This is a joyful process to be, you have to picture Jesus with you, not accusing you. He's with you as you talk about things that in your life that you know are not keeping you in step with the Spirit, or you know maybe you're in a relationship that isn't good, or you're watching something that isn't God's best for you. I feel like the Holy Spirit's so specific, and He points out, like, no, this is not a good path for you. So I do like to regularly ask that question. A lot of people forget the practice of confession.

They do. I mean, I love 1 John 1-9. If we confess our sins, you know, He's faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us. And I don't know, I like asking God, is there anything in my life that doesn't please you? And then I have learned to be quick to obey because the consequences of sin in my life are devastating. I don't want to give the devil a foothold. Sin causes trouble and distress.

I don't want, I want to keep short accounts in that area. I love your distinction, though, that God isn't looking at you like so mad or disappointed. He's with you in it. Yeah.

Like a loving father would be encouraging because he has something better. Yeah. Do you ever feel like God's saying, come on, tell me the truth? Yeah. You know, because confession is really just telling the truth.

Yes. And so many times we're praying, do you ever think, I've thought, He's like, come on, dude, I know, just tell me. Yeah, and don't, and. Let's be honest here, and then let's go. No, yeah, and people just, shame puts people into hiding. And as I studied the emotion of shame, it's terrible. It makes people isolated. And what you need to know, as soon as you tell someone what it is you're struggling with, you're going to find out not only have they probably struggled with that, too, but you'll have a closer relationship with them when you're honest about what's going on.

It'll bring you into community with people and so not to be afraid to say, I'm struggling with this. I know this is something that God doesn't like. You know, another thing is, to read God's word, a lot of young women say, well, I don't know what is sin. Like, I don't know what would be not pleasing to God. How do I know?

So I did write a list out that I used when I was growing in my faith, like, does this activity or this person help me grow closer to God, or is it more likely to pull me away from God? So I have all these like little litmus tests. Is it against the law? Like, that's an easy one. You know, he wants you to obey the authorities. So, you know, underage drinking, you know, it's against the law. So I'm not going to do it. You know, little things like that.

I hope these are kind of easy to figure out. And as you read God's word, I often underline things where I'm like, you know what, fits of rage are a fruit of the flesh. Like, if I'm a mom yelling at my kids all day long, that's when you confess and you're like, God, I'm struggling with this. So tell God, tell someone else, whatever it is. I remember being that mom.

Like, this is terrible. I remember driving to church because Dave was a pastor, so I'm by myself. And I'm corralling these three young boys into the car, and I can remember yelling at them and seeing myself yelling at them in the review mirror.

I wasn't filled with the Spirit because I thought, this is all Dave's fault. And when I'm blaming and casting blame somewhere else instead of just telling God the truth, like, Lord, I'm so frustrated, I feel like I'm failing. Kids, I'm so sorry. Yeah, apologize to the kids.

I do that most recently with gossip, because I do like juicy news. And I have to constantly confess to my 17-year-old, and she'll stand in the kitchen and literally be like, Mom, you are doing it again, get off the phone. Because I'll be like, oh, tell me what's up. And she'll hear me be like, no.

No, did that really happen? And Kate will be like, Mom. Because she knows that this is not, you know, that is one of the obvious, you know, signs. God does not like gossip or slander. So it's a daily process and joyful, like I said, of being with Jesus and helping him refine your character and help you grow in holiness. But let me ask one last question to two wives. How does understanding our identity, being seated with Christ, impact your marriage?

As a wife, how does that impact? You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Heather Holliman on Family Life Today. I love how honest Heather is all the time about her life.

Well, stick around. We'll hear Heather and Anne answer Dave's question in just a second. But first, you know, I've actually been personal friends with Heather Holliman for several years as we were both in the campus ministry of CREW in the relative same area. I've known her as a friend, as an author, as a speaker. And she was actually my very first guest on Real Life Loading, which is a part of the Family Life podcast network.

So if you go back and find episode one of Real Life Loading, Heather Holliman will be my first guest. I was thrilled to have her because her book, her writing, her speaking is so important. The first book that she actually wrote is called Seated with Christ. And her perspective in that book helps us to understand that the life that we're living right now is not God's plan B for us.

It's always God's plan A. He knows exactly what he's doing in our lives every moment of every day. And Heather unpacks that in a biblical way to help you see that we are all seated with Christ in our personal seat that he has assigned for us. Again, I love Heather Holliman and I love this book. We want to give you a copy of Seated with Christ as our thanks to you when you partner financially today with us.

You can give online at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to Dave's question to Heather and Anne on how knowing that we are seated with Christ impacts our marriages. For me, it's helped me with nagging and driving my husband because I'm like, I'm seated with Christ.

He's ordained the good works for me, for my husband, for my family. So I don't need to be in control of this and it doesn't have to be on my timeline. Half the things my husband and I fight about are me wanting things done faster than anyone else. So just saying, God is in control of this. I can leave my husband alone and let him live out the life God has for him.

I don't need to nag him and drive him. You know what I mean? That is totally mine. It's control.

It's a timeline thing. I like efficiency. I want the kitchen renovated. I want this done.

I want this done. When I'm seated with Christ, I can say, God, you're in control of our life. I can be content with where we are and I'm not going to drive my husband.

I'm going to let him live the life that you have planned for him and you'll provide for me when the time is right in this area. And I would say the exact same. My contentment, Father God, comes from you, not from Dave. Ooh, that's good. Or what Dave's doing or not doing around the house. Exactly. I don't know, at my age, it's all home repairs.

I'm like, are we going to fix it? But, I mean, marriage isn't fun when someone's driving the other person. Nobody wants to be married to their mom.

And also not needing him to be any different from who he is or what God has prepared for his life. Tomorrow, Dave and Anne are joined with our blended podcast host, Ron Deal, and his wife, Nan, to talk about an often hidden emotion and its crippling characteristics. And that is shame.

Don't want to miss that. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-28 06:20:22 / 2023-02-28 06:32:26 / 12

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