Brett Young: I think when you have the thing that you knew you were going to do for your entire life taken away from you, you have to refocus. And it’s really hard to do that if you don’t have faith that God has a plan for you.
Hold Up Your Lost Dreams to God: Brett Young and Sarah Jakes Roberts – Episode #266
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Do you have a dream for your life that didn’t pan out exactly as you had planned? Maybe something out of your control happened that made that dream impossible, or maybe you made some choices that turned your life in a direction that wasn’t in line with your hopes and goals? Though we can be filled with regret over dreams lost or deferred, God has another way of looking at those shifts in our lives and He encourages us that He will always guide us to where He wants us to be, as we’re reminded in Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Country music star Brett Young had dreams of being a pro baseball player until an injury halted his career. Sarah Jakes Roberts, daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes never imagined that she would become pregnant as a teenager and for many years dealt with the shame and disappointment of not having her life turn out exactly as she expected it. Each of these stories shows us that God can take our circumstances, no matter what they are, and still get us to where we can live the amazing life He has in store for us.
Let’s begin with Brett’s story.
Brett: My name is Brett Young, and I am a Southern California boy, raised as a pastor’s kid in the Christian church. I grew up leading worship and later in life fell back in love with music and started writing songs. And I’m now a country music artist.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that a senior on the baseball team who led worship every Friday morning asked me to come to help him lead. And all that meant was I had to sit behind him, play a second guitar, and kind of stay out of the limelight. It went well. He asked me—really didn’t ask me, he told me he was going to be out of town the following week, and I had to lead on my own. So I’m a sophomore in high school, 700 kids sitting there looking at me and I’m singing in public for the first time.
That was my first experience. It was terrifying. I don’t think it went over very well, but it went over well enough that when he graduated that year, that was my gig for my junior and senior years. So it made me fall in love with music. It got me over my stage fright at a pretty young age, and I think it served me really well years later when I picked the guitar back up and started writing because it felt natural to get on stage and sing in front of people. And that was all born in the church and in a Christian school.
A Love for Baseball and Music
I played baseball my whole life, and I had an opportunity to play professional baseball out of high school, and it just seemed like the wrong decision. It seemed like taking the scholarship and getting an education was the right thing to do while playing baseball. And so I went all the way to Mississippi my freshman year from California, got a little homesick, came back, transferred around a bunch, and ended up at Fresno State. Things were going really well.
Opening night of my first year there and about five minutes before start time, I’m in the bullpen. I throw a slider, I feel my elbow pop. And that was that.
It wasn’t just an injury that you’re going to recuperate from and come back from. It was the timing of missing your junior year and senior year because of one injury. And once I kind of realized what that was, I sunk into a little bit of a depression because I always thought that would be my path. I fell back on music while I was trying to figure out what came next.
And so for me, I think without my faith, I wouldn’t have been able to get over the injury and letting baseball go and be open enough to let something else come in. The music ended up being something that I love more than I loved baseball, and it feels exactly like what I was supposed to do in life.
That was really the impetus for me, moving from music being a hobby to music being a potential career. And I think that’s where God really stepped in and put people in my life that said, “Hey, you have to stop treating this like a hobby. There’s a future here. There’s a potential career here.” And it took me a while to believe them or trust them or, you know like we do in our faith, it took me a while to remind myself to trust God in that.
So I think what happened was the hardest thing that seemingly had ever happened to me with baseball being taken away was the thing that pushed me towards music, which is, you know—now hindsight’s 20/20—very clearly what God intended for me to do from the beginning.
“Without my faith, I wouldn’t have been able to get over the injury and letting baseball go and be open enough to let something else come in. Music ended up being something that I love more than I loved baseball, and it feels exactly like what I was supposed to do in life.” – Brett Young
God Gave Me My Career
Music has been nothing short of a very long journey for me. I was one of the few guys in my group of friends in Los Angeles who were pursuing music and actually making money in music. The problem was I was making money playing bars and restaurants, I was singing other people’s songs to a bunch of people that didn’t know I was there. And so after ten years of “success,” I hadn’t met a record executive. I hadn’t written an original song. I didn’t really feel like I was doing what I wanted to do in music. And I decided that it was time at my age to switch gears and write songs for other people because I wasn’t going to be given the platform I needed in order for people to care about my songs.
So I moved to Nashville, started writing songs for other people, and then somebody needed to sing the demo. I would sing on the demo, and we would pitch the songs to other artists. And within a couple of months of living in Nashville, everybody wanted to know who the demo singer was. And I always say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” That’s kind of how my situation worked out. I felt like I was a little too old to start a career.
I moved to Nashville and God said, “Here you go, here’s your career.” And from that moment on, I made writing songs important, and I made being authentic in my songwriting important because I feel like that is the only way to connect with your fans. You don’t get time to go meet every single one of the thousand people that come out every night. So the only way you have to connect with them is to show them who you are through your songs.
I’ve spent my career, from the moment I was given that platform, trying to make sure everything I said was true and a real-life experience for me that I could connect with so that I didn’t have to feel like I wasn’t being genuine when I was asking them to connect every night. And I feel like it’s worked. I feel like that’s the reason that I’ve been able to have a really close connection to all my fans.
“I moved to Nashville and God said, ‘Here you go, here’s your career.’” – Brett Young
Moving forward for me, I feel like that’s the brand and that’s something that I will always nurture and make sure that whatever you’re getting from me is always a very clear picture of where I’m at in my life and who I am as a person.
Growing Yourself and Your Family
My wife and I met in Arizona, she was going to Arizona State. It wasn’t easy. There was a little bit of an age gap, and we fought through a lot of things. When we finally figured out that we were ready and it was time we had the conversation, you know, this is marriage and children, are we committing to that? And we were both ready and it was perfectly God’s timing.
I can’t imagine life without her. She’s my best friend and my partner in life and business and everything. And she makes me a better person. And that, you know, that’s exactly how I feel about our first little baby girl, Presley.
I think, you know, having a kiddo, there’s no book on how to do it because every kid is different and every parent is different. But all I’ve seen from my experience is how my love for her pushes me to be a better person every single day. I think that has to be God’s plan in the whole structure of parent/child relationships because it’s my job to mold her into who she’s going to become. And luckily, it’s my wife’s job, too, and she’s better at it than me. But knowing that and respecting and appreciating that responsibility, I just watch myself change every single day as she grows.
It inspired a song of mine that I wrote called “Lady,” which was my most recent single at country radio. And that song inspired a book, Love You, Little Lady. And I think the big inspiration for that was seeing the stacks of children’s books in my daughter’s room and thinking about how everyone has a different message and how I had a song that was a very clear message that I wanted to give to her, and that was that your mom is incredible. And if you have any questions at all about what to do and who you’re supposed to become, you can look to your mom for that. We thought it would be a beautiful idea for a book, and we’re so excited. We hope that it’s something that resonates with everybody that reads it.
Assessing Life at 40
I turned forty this year, and I read a statement that somebody said about reaching an age where you have more summers behind you than you have in front of you. And the point of it, as it boiled down, I needed to treat each day like its own. I think as you start having children, that becomes way more clear and precious to you. And the fact that God is giving us this life and these unique days one at a time, it feels almost irresponsible to try to fit them into a mold or try to make today yesterday or look forward to tomorrow rather than living in this precious moment that you’ve been given.
“The fact that God is giving us this life and these unique days one at a time, it feels almost irresponsible to try to fit them into a mold or try to make today yesterday or look forward to tomorrow rather than living in this precious moment that you’ve been given.” – Brett Young
Jesus Calling has been a book that I and my wife have read together since early in our relationship.
Jesus Calling, February 17th:
I am the Risen One who shines upon you always. You worship a living Deity, not some idolatrous, man-made image. Your relationship with me is meant to be vibrant and challenging as I invade more and more areas of your life. Do not fear change, for I am making you a new creation, with old things passing away and new things continually on the horizon. When you cling to old ways and sameness, you resist My work within you. I want you to embrace all that I am doing in your life, finding your security in Me alone.
It is easy to make an idol of routine, finding security within the boundaries you build around your life. Although each day contains twenty-four hours, every single one presents a unique set of circumstances. Don’t try to force-fit today into yesterday’s mold. Instead, ask Me to open your eyes so you can find all I have prepared for you in this precious day of Life.
I’ve recently been kind of reevaluating and reassessing things. I think the messages that come are very, very important and things that are hard to remember and need to be heard. And this one especially is just one day at a time, and take every day seriously and let it be its own thing. And I think that’s beautiful.
I think life is a collection of God opening and closing doors. And I think we’re the only ones who get in our way of seeing when a door is being closed and when the door is being opened. And as you get older and you go through more chapters of your life, I think you as a Christian become more willing to be patient and look for those open and closed doors. When baseball was taken and I had my injury, I felt like I still wanted to beat my head against the baseball door. And if I had just looked right, God would have been standing there with another door open going, “Dude, this one’s ready for you whenever you are.” And the message is just that if He’s going to take something from you, it’s because He’s got something better for you.
“I think life is a collection of God opening and closing doors. And I think we’re the only ones that get in our way of seeing when a door is being closed and when the door is being opened.” – Brett Young
Narrator: To learn more about Brett’s newest album, Weekends Look A Little Different These Days, please visit www.brettyoungmusic.com, and be sure to check out his new children’s book, Love You, Little Lady, wherever books are sold.
Stay tuned to Sarah Jakes Roberts’ story after a brief message.
New! 365-Day Prayer Devotional Coming from Sarah Young
Many of us want to develop a deeper prayer life. In this new 365 day devotional, Jesus Listens, Sarah Young offers daily prayers based on Scripture that will help you experience how intentional prayer can connect you to God and change your heart. Learn more about Jesus Listens and download a free sample at jesuscalling.com/jesuslistens
Narrator: Sarah Jakes Roberts grew up in a megachurch environment as the daughter of the legendary Bishop T.D. Jakes. As she approached her teen years, Sarah wanted to so badly fit in and made some choices that would have an influence on her life for years to come. The shame from those choices kept her away from her goal of ministry because she thought her mistakes were beyond recovering. It wasn’t until she realized that she was living under a cloud of shame that was of her own choosing that she decided that it was time to allow herself to move out from under that cloud and dare to evolve into a new way of thinking where she was able to restore her faith and pursue ministry, where she is able to tell other women that they are not the sum of their mistakes and that they can be redeemed by God from their past.
Sarah Jakes Roberts: My name is Sarah Jakes Roberts. I am the author of Woman Evolve and the founder of the movement of the same title. I’m also the co-pastor of The Potter’s House One in L.A. and Denver.
An Unexpected Pregnancy
Family is the most important thing to my parents. My dad always says, “You can always find another pastor, but you can only have one dad.” It was a major culture shock to go from a family church to what we now have coined as a megachurch.
And in the midst of that, I think I felt the need to fit in, but wasn’t quite sure how I would actually fit in. I ended up trying to fit in with other people who were uncertain and unsure and insecure. And in the process of connecting with those people, I found myself pregnant at thirteen. I had my son at fourteen years old. And from there decided to completely stay away from anything that looked like ministry and even God, because I wasn’t sure that there was a place for a girl who had made such a big, big mistake that I thought was beyond recovery.
“I decided to completely stay away from anything that looked like ministry and even God, because I wasn’t sure that there was a place for a girl who had made such a big, big mistake that I thought was beyond recovery.” – Sarah Jakes Robert
My dad shielded and protected me. My mother made sure that I never felt so isolated from the love that I didn’t see that she was willing to walk this journey with me. And she just held my hand, sometimes crying, sometimes weeping for, you know, maybe the dreams that she had for me as her daughter. But always present, always there. You know, no one dreams when you are holding a little baby, no one dreams that “I hope she gets pregnant at thirteen.” And yet when that became their reality, my parents were courageous enough to create a new dream for me, and that dream included restoration and redemption.
Moving Out From Under a Cloud of Shame
I think the very basis of our faith says that there is redemption, and that salvation is available for our shame, for our depression. And yet it was difficult for me to fully connect the dots. It took a step of faith for me to believe that maybe that applied to me too, not just the woman who’s on the other side of the pew or my neighbor, but this same redemption is available to me. I started walking that out in faith. And through that process, ten years of going back and forth, I finally kind of hit this point in my life where I had to ask myself, “Is this how you’re going to continue to live your life, under this cloud of shame, or will you dare to evolve?” And that’s the journey that I’ve been sharing with women ever since.
“It took a step of faith for me to believe that [redemption] maybe applied to me too, not just the woman who’s on the other side of the pew or my neighbor, but this same redemption is available to me.” – Sarah Jakes Roberts
God has faith in women. But the question is, do we have a culture and society that reflects God’s heart for women? And what are we willing to do to step into what God already gave us? And we have to shed shame and fear in the pride and ego in order to step into that. And I feel like that’s my calling, which is to help women step into that power.
What has blessed me so much is that this message that I speak about overcoming shame, about overcoming abortion, about wanting to still have redemption in your life, about coming to a place where you really have humility towards God. It doesn’t matter what color we are—on the inside, we’re all trying to sort through the sin of life and missing the mark and wondering where we fit. And I have found that sometimes we allow things to divide us that keep us from actually being able to edify one another because of the barriers that exist in culture. But there’s power when women come together, and the more diverse and more beautiful and more honest and more transparent, the more power exists.
“It doesn’t matter what color we are—on the inside, we’re all trying to sort through the sin of life and missing the mark and wondering where we fit. And I have found that sometimes we allow things to divide us that keep us from actually being able to edify one another because of the barriers that exist in culture.” – Sarah Jakes Roberts
I believe in every woman there is an Eve and a Mary. And my goal is to make sure that maybe you’re Mary when it comes to business, maybe you’re Mary when it comes to your marriage, but maybe you’re a little Eve when it comes to your diet or you’re a little Eve when it comes to your parenting or dealing with your shame. But I believe every part of us can make our way to that divinity where we are able to manifest God’s vision for our life.
We have such a culture that pushes us on self-care. “You gotta get your nails done, you need to work out. You need to take care of yourself.” They call that taking care of yourself. For me, what’s most important to me is soul care. That’s taking ten minutes when I can find it in the morning and being present with God.
God’s presence is always available to us. But sometimes we are present in our life, so much so that we miss out on God’s presence. And so I take as much time as I can. Sometimes it’s ten minutes, sometimes as an hour. I choose to be present with God. But there are moments even when I’m driving in my car where I don’t just let myself just drive. I choose to be present with God. And in that time I’m able to center myself. I’m able to tap into His peace, into His power, into His vision, and bread, that daily bread for the day.
“God’s presence is always available to us. But sometimes we are present in our life, so much so that we miss out on God’s presence.” – Sarah Jakes Roberts
I love Jesus Calling and devotionals like this in general because it gives us something to look forward to. A lot of times we feel like we want to be closer to God, but we don’t know how to start, and I don’t know what I’m looking for when I read the Bible. But to have this guided assistance—and this is for someone who is a Bible scholar or someone who is brand-new to the faith—to be able to look at the scripture from a different perspective and to come to it every single day and be reminded of the promises of God, the ability that is available to us, I think is so powerful.
When I see the seed of God still at work in the next generation, it quiets my worry to know that there is a harvest of God that may not yet be revealed, but is certainly in the ground that gives me so much peace. I think that God made us sensitive. And so I believe with the sensitivity that direction will be revealed. With sensitivity, empathy can emerge. And so I’m praying for sensitivity for everyone, for myself, sensitive to what I’m supposed to do today, what I’m not supposed to do today, sensitive to the messages that I want to put out in the world. And I’m praying that God will continue to raise up other people who are sensitive enough to pause and reposition when necessary.
And our goal with the time that we have here is to stop the spread, to stop the spread of darkness, to stop the spread of shame. And if we think about our lives as an opportunity to stop the spread, even if we keep one person from contracting it, that’s one person who doesn’t have to deal with it. That is important. And so, yes, you are just one person, but it only took one person to change any industry. It only took one person to break down any barrier. And so what can you do in your community? What can you do for your family? There are people in your family who need to see another way of doing life. There are people in your family who need to see another way of handling money, a different way of handling marriage, a different way of communicating. And yes, you are the one person that could change everything.
Narrator: You can find Sarah’s latest book, Woman Evolve: Break Up With Your Fears and Revolutionize Your Life, wherever books are sold.
If you’d like to hear more stories about people whose broken dreams were redeemed by God, check out our interview with Pastor Matthew Barnett.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling podcast, we speak with musician and American Idol finalist Dave Pittman. At an early age, Dave was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, a condition that can cause uncontrollable tics or vocal sounds. Dave remembers how he felt when he first heard the news.
Do you love hearing these stories of faith weekly from people like you whose lives have been changed by a closer walk with God? Then be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like what you’re hearing, leave us a review so that we can reach others with these inspirational stories. And, you can also see these interviews on video as part of our original web series with a new interview premiering every other Sunday on Facebook Live. Find previously broadcasted interviews on our Youtube channel, on IGTV, or on jesuscalling.com/media/video.