Jana: I am the kind of person where I feel like I’ve gone through certain things in my life to be able to help other people. I see it as a way of having a platform, so I want to use my platform.
Mercy for Your Mistakes: Jana Kramer & Mike Caussin and Margaret Feinberg – Episode #218
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Although sometimes we feel we don’t deserve it, God is always there to show us mercy, even when we make choices that hurt ourselves or others, or we believe the lie of “You’re not enough.” This week’s guests share how God’s mercy showed up in their lives, through the mire of their broken circumstances: former NFL player Mike Caussin and his wife, actor Jana Kramer, and author and speaker Margaret Feinberg.
From the beginning of their marriage, Mike and Jana had the everyday arguments that each couple has around money, careers, and kids. But a year into their marriage, Jana learned that Mike had been unfaithful, and the couple was thrown into a tailspin. After the initial hurt and pain, they started exploring the root cause behind Mike’s behavior, and discovered that he was suffering from depression and addiction. As they fought to keep their relationship alive through countless hours of prayer and therapy, they discovered their story could bring hope for other couples struggling through the same thing, as they talk about in their new book The Good Fight.
Jana: I am Jana Kramer. I am a mother, a wife, an actress, singer, and now an author.
Mike: I’m Michael Caussin. And I’m married to Jana, father of our two beautiful kids, former NFL veteran, and an author.
Our book, The Good Fight, is—let me put it to you this way—Jana and I started this morning off with a little bit of an argument, and our whole concept behind the book is using those moments to grow closer together. They don’t have to push you apart from one another, as much as people might want to think that fights push you farther away. You can use them as tools to learn more about each other and integrate closer together.
Jana: Very well said.
Mike: Thank you.
Jana: When Mike and I met, I was thirty and having a very thirty-year-old dinner of mac and cheese, I was on Twitter, and I saw that he was favoriting some of my things. I saw his football photo, and I was like, Oh, you’re cute. Long story short, I followed him back.
Mike: June 22nd of 2014 was when we talked on Twitter. The next day, you gave me your number. Tuesday, we talked on the phone. Wednesday, we FaceTimed. Thursday, I flew out to see her in Chicago. Engaged a few months after that, married four months after that. So all of this happened within a twelve-month period.
And then, you know, the rest is essentially history in terms of things that we’ve overcome and been through. You know, unfortunately, affairs on my end. Infidelity, which later I realized was part of me suffering from sex addiction and depression and other things. I do say that a lot, where it’s not an excuse, but it is an explanation. It is an explanation of certain behaviors, on behavioral patterns and why someone might do something. But it does not excuse at all—because ultimately you still have a choice. Whether you act on it or not, you still make a choice.
What inspired me to get help was really Jana. So we’re just trying to express to people that even as hard as it is for us, even to this day, that at the end of the day it’s still worth it for us. It’s worth fighting for each other and for our family and not against each other.
Jana: For me, it was my daughter. She was four months old at the time. And I just thought how unfair for her, to not to give it the best try that I could. And also because I come from a divorced family, I didn’t want that for my child. So I just told myself that I wanted to try for her.
Mike: It’s been a battle, recovering from addiction and Jana being a spouse to an addict, and then also just mending our relationship with trust and love and everything.
Going to rehab for sex addiction and being there for sixty days awakened me to the issues I had lived with . . . it’s not hard to admit, but it’s tough to swallow. There’s still a lot of shame around it.
You know, I made a ton of bad decisions in relationships and in our marriage, and it’s just like I wanted to fight to be a better person because I don’t want to live the rest of my life going through the same behavior that I had previously.
My love for her is what caused me to keep fighting for it, there’s no question. And her saying when everything went down, “You need to go get help, or I’m gone.” And at that point, I didn’t really think I needed help, but I was like, “Okay, whatever you need, I’ll go.”
The Road to Recovering Trust
Jana: When I was doing Dancing with the Stars, there was an US Weekly cover of my face that said “Married to a Sex Addict.” The story was leaked, and that’s why I wanted to talk about it so publicly. It was already out there, and I wanted to change the narrative.
In his mind, he’s like, “It’s one article.”
I’m like, “No, you don’t understand. This article will come up. It’ll always be there. It’ll be filed. And it will continue to come up and always say ‘He previously cheated on his wife.’ I want to change that narrative. And I want it to be like, ‘Okay, yes, he did. But wow, look at their marriage now.'”
I was originally writing a book about my life and the stuff I’ve gone through and obviously it involved Mike. I remember the first draft that I gave him, he ripped up in shreds and threw it away. And he’s like, “Why do you want to write about this?”
I’m like, “I want to help people. I want to talk about it.”
And this is the reason why I wanted to do The Good Fight: when we were going through our issues and he was at rehab, I was literally knee-deep in so many self-help books, trying to find some kind of silver lining, trying to find something I could relate to, like, Oh, okay, this couple made it, or, Okay, this is how it can be done. And I didn’t see any of that. There was one book about a couple, but they were older and they were therapists. I’m like, I can’t relate to that. There’s nothing to relate to in this. And I so desperately wanted this book to be like, “Okay, this couple has been through to hell and back, and they’ve still been able to to fight for their marriage, and fight for their kids, and fight for their family.”
Mike: Well said, honey.
For us to be public about this definitely took some convincing on her end. I was just so caught in my shame early on about what I did. And I didn’t want the spotlight on me even more for being a bad guy, for being the perpetrator. I didn’t see the light in the tunnel. And then just slowly over time, you know, through the [Whine Down] podcast that we have, when Jana started that and I started coming on, we kind of took the leap. You know, my fears weren’t validated, where I thought I’d be shamed or ostracized or just looked at negatively. But we were flooded with emails and DMs about support and people just being like, “Oh, my gosh. Thank you for talking about this. My husband suffers, my boyfriend. You know, we’re trying to figure it out.”
And so people had a place to actually listen or come to talk about this topic. That just helped me tremendously overcome my shame and realize that my wife was right yet again, and the end game that she saw for this started from her motivating and wanting to be able to help people.
Strengthening Faith for a Stronger Family
Jana: I’m just always constantly praying for our family. I want us to stay together. I’m praying for his recovery. I’m praying for our recovery. And I just hope that we always choose to stay in it. And so I just pray that we’re always strong enough to continue to grow.
For me personally, when we’re having hard times just recently with quarantine and some of our issues, I just go to Him more and I pray more. I just need help. I’m always about signs, like, Give me the sign that I’m on the right path. And if not, just give me a little push, a little help.
“I’m just constantly praying for our family. I want us to stay together. I’m praying for his recovery. I’m praying for our recovery. I just hope that we always choose to stay in it. And so I just pray that we’re always strong enough to continue to grow.” – Jana Kramer
I hate it, because we were getting really good with our relationship with God, and then quarantine hit. We can’t go to church now or do things that I was trying to do, like helping with serving. But in our relationship, I think we need to continue to do a better job with instilling that. And, you know, we do a lot with the kids. I always make sure the kids pray and we pray over our family.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. I mean, Jana touched on it: our togetherness with our spirituality, we need to get better at that during this time right now. And I’m sure a lot of people would use their quarantine as an excuse a little bit, because we were in such a great routine and Jana was serving with the kids room every Sunday before we’d go to our mass. It was just awesome, and it was a lot of fun. And so individually, we’ve still been doing our things. I do reading every morning and meditating and praying and stuff like that.
Like Jana was just touching on, going into conflict with each other. I was talking to my sponsor the other day about some stuff I was dealing with around Jana and I’s disconnect. And he’s just like, “I hear you talking and complaining, doing all these things. You just need to pray and let God in before you have this next conversation with Jana. Pray about it. Let Him in the room.”
And because of that, I was able to finally come to Jana from an empathetic place, and we were able to have an actual, genuine discussion, because I got out of my own way. And that’s what my experience with my Higher Power and with God has been able to allow me to do.
I first heard about Jesus Calling, I think, just from a friend. You know what? I think I had the book first and then it became an app. And I had it around the time all this happened. I think a therapist gave it to me, and then I found that it was an app.
Mike: And so when we finally started doing that, like, physically praying out loud together, I’m doing my stuff spiritually, she’s doing her stuff spiritually, then we started to see a little bit where we allowed Him in and we could feel that vulnerability in the room. He’s holding us, helping us through this, putting us together instead of us just trying to do it ourselves and control each other in our emotions, which had to let go of.
“When we finally started doing physically praying out loud together, I’m doing my stuff spiritually, she’s doing her stuff spiritually, then we started to see where we allowed Him in and we could feel that vulnerability in the room.” – Mike Caussin
Growing as a Team Means Growing Communication Skills
Jana: I think communication with each other and being honest about how we feel is imperative to growing together as a team.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. Trying to communicate, almost over-communicating the feelings that we’re dealing with—which is something we even need to get more consistent with is checking in—we talk about that in the book. We’ve even allowed outside excuses to get in a way of that, of her filming or we’re busy or this or that, where we need to get back on track and almost overcommunicate about those things, because then we don’t hold it in and blow up on the one day that all this comes rushing in for either of us. And it’s a way to avoid those bigger, disconnected arguments that don’t bring you together initially, that do separate you, that you do want space from one another.
Jana: Like in the check in. If we were to have checked in, I’d have been like, “Hey, I need you to pick up a little bit more,” instead of me being like, “Everything’s a mess! This is all—”
Mike: “It’s all on me!”
Jana: Yeah. I feel like the weight of everything—like, “The laundry room’s a mess! This is a mess!” Instead, I could’ve just been like, “Hey, I really need you to pick it up a little bit while I’m working.” And he would’ve been like, “Done.” Communication, who would’ve thought?
Mike: Owning your side of the street, it’s controlling what you can control. And as much as we find us trying to convince each other to see things our way, to convince each other to have our opinion or our outlook or believe our truth, we can’t control someone else’s thoughts or feelings. Control what you can control. You know, you can’t tell your neighbor to pick up their trash. That’s on them.
“Owning your side of the street, it’s controlling what you can control. And as much as we find us trying to convince each other to see things our way, to convince each other to have our opinion or our outlook or believe our truth, we can’t control someone else’s thoughts or feelings. Control what you can control.” – Mike Caussin
So it’s just taking care of you, allowing your partner to take care of them, and then hopefully meeting in the middle.
Jana: Cleaning your side of the street is an interesting topic, because I have a really hard time with that. When we went to therapy, the therapist kind of looked at me like, “Okay, like you have to own yourself, too.” And I was like, “I am totally fine. I am great. I’ve done nothing wrong. And I’m amazing.” Yes, you know, all that stuff happened. But I also have my reactions, my recovery. I’ve got my choices, my things that I’ve done, too, where I have to own and clean up. Because, you know, it’s not fair to have my side all messy, and then I’m dumping it on him. So it’s just about owning your side of the street.
Leaving Shame Behind and Moving Forward in Forgiveness
Jana: Where we’re at now is just remembering all the things that we’ve learned and how to continue to keep using our tools and to continue to grow. We have the tool box filled with stuff, we continue to go to therapy. We continue to learn. And so I just pray that we’re always strong enough to continue to grow.
“Where we’re at now is just remembering all the things that we’ve learned, and how to continue to keep using our tools and to continue to grow. We have the tool box filled with stuff, we continue to go to therapy. We continue to learn. And so I just pray that we’re always strong enough to continue to grow.” – Jana Kramer
Mike: I think that’s just it, nowadays in our relationship we are constantly implementing the tools that we have. Because, yeah, we can always learn more and we will continue to learn more things as we do our own reading, our own praying, our therapy and everything like that. But we have—for being our age and in a younger marriage of five years—we have a lifetime full of tools in our tool box. And we just need to use them, because we’ve learned them for a reason. They have helped us. They’ve helped us get this far. And so for the next five years and so on, we need to continue to implement them because that’ll help us avoid some of these moments of disconnect.
”We have a lifetime full of tools in our tool box. And we just need to use them, because we’ve learned them for a reason. They have helped us. They’ve helped us get this far. And so for the next five years and so on, we need to continue to implement them because that’ll help us avoid some of these moments of disconnect.” – Mike Caussin
Jana: But it is hard. I mean, I get triggered more times than not. I think for me, it’s just working on how to come to him from a good place and not from a four-years-ago place. But it’s just hard, especially being in this situation when I do get triggered and heightened. So I think that’s just a constant thing that I just always have to work on, to come and be like, “Okay, that’s not who he is now. So don’t come at him from how he was four years ago.”
Mike: How do I not constantly feel all that shame in the back of my mind? Short of it is, I pretty much do. You know, it’s tough. But to go on what Jana was saying, we do think it’s important. We even talk about it in the book where that stuff unfortunately never goes away. In twenty years, something might happen where Jana gets triggered and it brings up stuff that happened twenty years prior. God ultimately has control over the situation, and we need to give Him more power.
“God ultimately has control over the situation and we need to give Him more power.” – Mike Caussin
So I try to do the same as Jana, where I try to remind myself, Okay, today. That’s why they say “one day at a time” in any twelve-step program. Today, I’m living with integrity. I’m honest. I’m not acting out. And I’m sober. I’m loving myself, loving my wife, loving my family.
Narrator: You can find Mike and Jana’s book, The Good Fight, wherever books are sold.
Stay tuned to Margaret Feinberg’s story after a brief message about the brand-new television show Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith, premiering Tuesday October 6th at 8:30 PM Eastern Time on Circle TV!
New! Jesus Calling TV Show Premieres Oct 6 on Circle Network
Join us on Tuesdays this fall for the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith television show on Circle TV, hosted by country music superstar Lauren Alaina! Each week, we’ll talk with people from all walks of life about their heartaches, their victories, their joy and their pain—and how their faith kept them going through it all. You don’t want to miss it—Tuesdays at 8:30 PM Eastern Time, and re-airing Sundays at 2:00 PM Eastern this fall on Circle TV!
Narrator: Our next guest is author and speaker Margaret Feinberg. As a public figure, Margaret relies on social media to connect with people and to bring her messages about faith to the world. However, Margaret recognizes the pitfalls of “keeping up appearances” on social media—and how playing the comparison game can lead us to believe lies like “You’re not good enough,” or “You’ll never make it.” To combat this in her own life, Margaret began the practice of speaking daily declarations over her life—declarations about who she is and about who God says she is. Margaret encourages us that when we speak power over ourselves, we’re more fully able to understand who we’re called to be.
Margaret: My name is Margaret Feinberg, and I’ve had the joy and privilege of sharing the story of what God has been doing in my life and in our community and throughout our world for the last twenty-five years through writing and teaching. Currently, my husband and I, we live just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, where he has been serving as a campus pastor. And we love the joy of serving our extraordinary humans in our community.
Finding Deeper Faith Through Challenge and Hardship
You know, over the years, I have seen my faith grow deeper and deeper. And often that’s through challenges and hardship. It’s not always easy peasy, but there are seasons of life where things are difficult, the struggles are real.
I recently completed a book that I’m so excited to get into readers’ hands, called More Power to You: Declarations to Break Free from Fear and Take Your Life Back. And this book came out of a point in my own life where I was in a really dark season. I know some of you know what those seasons are like. For me, it was kind of like the slow descent until . . . I just felt hopeless. I felt discouraged. I felt like there were these things that just kind of slipped into my life that were untrue.
I mean, the things that I was believing were things like, “You’re a failure. You’re a has-been. You’ll never get through this.” And what I discovered is that as I came to think those things, I began to entertain those thoughts until I kind of ingested them, until they started to come back out of me through my attitudes and my actions and my behaviors.
You Are What You Think
I think a lot of times when we think about false beliefs or these negative thought spirals that just sneak in, these lies that are not true—I think a lot of them are more common than we realize because they’re part of our culture. They’re things that people say a lot. They’re things that we hear. And they’re things that if we’re not careful, we can start to believe.
You know, I think some of the common ones—I know that I’ve struggled and many of my friends struggle with being a people pleaser. In that sense, I need to make everyone happy. Or I think that sense of consumerism where we start to believe, I am what I own. Or we’re a little skeptical that maybe God truly loves us, and so we start to think, God just tolerates me, we buy into that. I have to pull myself up by the bootstraps, and we start to think, I have to do it on my own. Or we reach a hard point, and we think, I’ll never recover from this. We look in the mirror and we think, I’m I’m ugly, I’m unattractive, or we buy into the cultural myth that getting older is the worst.
In fact, none of these beliefs are true. I think that these are lies from the enemy, and that if you start looking at God’s Word and what He says about us, it is completely different. I mean, God says that we are the beloved child in whom He is well pleased, fearfully and wonderfully made, who is beautiful beyond measure.
This overthinking often springs from our deepest insecurities. And these kinds of downward spirals can lead to anxiety, discouragement, even post-traumatic stress disorder. And what we have to realize is you ultimately become what you think. And we have a choice to make every day whether we allow these life-giving or these soul-sucking false beliefs into our lives.
God is so committed to drawing our attention back to Himself. As we start paying attention to our inner dialogue, we start the act of recognizing these negative thoughts, these false beliefs, and interrupt those invalidating lies with spirit-filled, life-giving ones. We can begin whispering a prayer of hope, a compliment, an exhale of gratitude to begin each day, reciting these daily declarations that are based in scripture. In the process, we give our neural pathways the opportunity to chart a different course. And so what’s incredible is God has given us the ability to literally renew our mind through the power of the Holy Spirit and scripture, and we can begin doing it today.
“What’s incredible is God has given us the ability to literally renew our mind through the power of the Holy Spirit and scripture, and we can begin doing it today.” – Margaret Feinberg
Declaring God’s Love for Us Daily
I began diving into scripture and identifying the scripture that tells the truth and counters those lies. And so I began just carving out ninety seconds a day or so, just to begin declaring these and to declare them out loud. And they’re declarations like this: “Jesus is king of my life. I am who Christ says I am. I take every thought captive. I break every agreement that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. My purpose is to love, serve, glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. I am filled with the Holy Spirit. The same power that resurrected Christ from the dead lives in me.”
“I began just carving out ninety seconds a day or so, just to begin declaring these and to declare them out loud. And they’re declarations like this: ‘Jesus is king of my life. I am who Christ says I am.’” – Margaret Feinberg
And as I began doing this—and this is crucial, those of you who get More Power to You need to recognize this—it’s not just reading through this list. It is proclaiming it. It is saying it out loud, because there is power that is unleashed when you do that. When you begin making these deeply rooted biblical declarations out loud, number one, you are declaring them to God. You are aligning your thoughts, your mind, your heart, spirit with the kingdom of God, with His purposes and His ways. Secondly, when you say them out loud, you are declaring them to yourself. You are beginning to reformat your own brain neurologically. These become your thoughts. And whenever thoughts start to enter that are not aligned with that, you can more easily identify them.
And this is kind of embarrassing, but I have them all over my house. I have one pinned against the toilet paper roll. I have one on the bathroom mirror. I have one tucked into my Bible. I think there is even one in my car. Some people like to ask, “How does this help us discover our most true self, the one God made us to be and finally feel worthy?”
We live in a culture and a world, in an Instagram/Facebook universe of social media where everything is kind of whispering, “You’re not enough. You’re not attractive enough. You’re getting older. You know, you’re going to struggle. Somebody else is living a better life than you.” And there is something that happens when we begin declaring the truth of who we are and who were called to be.
“There is something that happens when we begin declaring the truth of who we are and who were called to be.” – Margaret Feinberg
In identifying the truth of what God says about us, there is something freeing. There is something liberating that when those lies start to enter in and try to tell us these things that just simply aren’t true, we rise up with the truth embedded in us about our beauty, about the way that we’re made, about how God is and the power of God is guarding our thoughts. The Word of God is guiding our steps, and the favor of God rests on us. All of a sudden, we become more light and free than we’ve ever been before. We begin to see our worth, not through our own earthly eyes, but through heavenly ones where we are treasured and valued beyond measure.
“When those lies start to enter in and try to tell us these things that just simply aren’t true, we rise up with the truth embedded in us about our beauty, about the way that we’re made, about how God is and the power of God guarding our thoughts.” – Margaret Feinberg
“Joy Is The Weapon We Use to Fight Fife’s Battles.”
Devotionals right now, in a time-pressed culture, it is just a gift to begin challenging us, equipping us, and calling us to rise up as faithful believers who experience the power of Christ each and every day. Jesus Calling has been such a gift to me, especially in the way that it’s written, in that it just feels like it’s straight from Jesus. And there will be words or phrases that I read, and they just kind of pop off the page and just touch my heart in such deep ways because they speak the life and the truth of scripture and Christ to each of us.
Jesus Always, January 20th:
REMEMBER THAT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT includes Joy. Even in the midst of severe suffering, My Spirit can give you this wondrous gift. Feel free to ask Him to fill you with Joy—as often as you need. He resides in the deepest depths of your being, so His work within you is very effective. You cooperate with Him by saturating your mind with Scripture and asking Him to illuminate it to you. One way the Holy Spirit increases your Joy is to help you think My thoughts. The more you see things from My perspective, the more accurately you view your life. You need not only to know biblical truth but to tell yourself the truth over and over each day. The world continually assaults your mind with lies and deceptions, so you must be diligent to recognize falsehood, dispel it, and replace it with biblical teaching. The most glorious, life-changing truth is the gospel: I have died (to save all who believe in Me). I have risen. I will come again. Rejoice in Me always!
For me, joy is one of the incredible gifts of the Holy Spirit. Joy is the weapon that we use to fight life’s battles. Joy is a gift that helps us to rise above. Joy is that thing that helps us to learn to worship, even in the darkest moments in the process, to poke holes in the darkness until it breathes life, that we would be a people who cling to the glorious, life-changing truth of the gospel that Christ is with us even in this.
“Joy is the weapon that we use to fight life’s battles.” – Margaret Feinberg
You know, I would be remiss if I did not say this pandemic world has given us so many challenges. We’ve experienced that in our church, in our congregation, in our community, and in friends around the country and around the world. The amount of hardship and heartache at times, it has pegged my tragedy meter beyond any height it had ever reached before. And one of the things that I am most grateful for is that God began planting and embedding this practice of these More Power to You powerful declarations long before the pandemic hit, because it has been something that has been carrying me through each and every day.
In a world where our culture is becoming increasingly toxic and polarized, we can not give in to that negativity and the lies and the deception and the false beliefs, but we can ground ourselves in this moment and the truth of the scripture, the truth of what Christ says, and begin proclaiming that not just of ourselves, but of our family and our friends. It is so incredibly powerful.
Narrator: To learn more about Margaret’s book, More Power to You, visit morepowertoyou.com.
If you’d like to hear more stories about God rewriting our stories, check out our interview with author Cyntoia Brown-Long.
Narrator: Want to hear more inspirational stories of people who have been changed by a closer walk with God? Then subscribe today to the Jesus Calling Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And please be sure to leave a review, which helps us reach and inspire others with these stories. Plus, if you like seeing our guests as well as hearing them, you can find video interviews available on our Youtube channel at youtube.com/jesuscallingbook, on Facebook, and on the Jesus Calling Instagram page.