Author and blogger Jessica Smartt offers suggestions for capturing special moments with your family that you will cherish remembering for years to come.
Mrs. Lacey Sturm: Finally, he’s wiping his tears, he says, “There’s a suicidal spirit in this room.” And it was just total silence. And everybody realized, you know, you’re crying because you feel like a sense that there is somebody here that wants to take their life. And I was like (gasp). It was me. And he’s just wiping his tears, and he says, “Please come up here and let us pray for you, whoever you are. God has a plan for your life. He doesn’t want you to die tonight.”
End of Excerpt
Jim Daly: What an impactful story from Lacey Sturm, our guest last time on Focus on the Family. I’m Jim Daly. Today she’s a “rock princess” and has a ministry of performing in some of the darkest bars, clubs and concert halls. Places where God is only a curse word. And she’s proclaiming the truth and providing the light of the gospel to those very people. But think of where she came from, growing up poor with no dad, moving from home to home with 6 kids and her single parent mom. Lacey grew up with despair. She felt like she was a burden to everyone around her. And then, on the day she planned to kill herself, her grandmother took her to church and that pastor – God bless him – sensed the power of the Holy Spirit and said those words, “God has a plan for your life” and “He doesn’t want you to die tonight.” Can you imagine that? Maybe you can relate to the pain Lacey was experiencing. Maybe you’re feeling desperate right now. Or hopeless about your marriage or a prodigal child who is breaking your heart. This program is exactly for you. As we heard last time and we’ll hear again today, God can use this rock ‘n roller will touch your heart. And here at Focus, we want to offer you the hope that can only be found in God’s love.
John Fuller: And so many of our listeners were really encouraged by Lacey’s story when we originally aired this interview and we know that you’re going to find a lot of hope and help here today. Contact us if you need counseling or if you want to learn more about resources to help you and your family. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And if you didn’t hear part one of our conversation with Lacey, ask about getting the CD of it or look for the download. Or get our mobile app so you can listen on the go. Let me also mention that we do have copies of Lacey’s book here at Focus on the Family. Request your copy when you get in touch. It’s called The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living. All right, let’s go ahead and hear now as, Jim, you began part two of our conversation with Lacey Sturm on Focus on the Family.
Jim: Lacey, let me simply welcome you back to the program.
Lacey: Thank you.
Jim: I mean I am already in tears and that’s not fair.
Jim: I mean I love your spirit and your desire to reach those people that don’t know the Lord and we’re going to talk more about that in a minute. But, um, man, what a life you’ve had so far, and you’re just in your thirties.
Lacey: Mm-hmm. I just turned…
Jim: I’m old enough to be your dad and I’m sitting here crying, wishing I could have been that papa for you.
Jim: Talk about that void in your heart where you didn’t have a dad to say, “Hey, darling, I love you. I care about you.” What kind of impact did that make on you as a 13-, 14-year-old girl?
Lacey: Well, you know, um, we – when you feel like you can’t depend on somebody’s words, I think is what I saw a lot in the men around – that were around my mom and my aunts.
Jim: You saw a lot of abuse, right?
Lacey: I saw that. Yes. And I saw just – just that we’re on our own and we have to figure it out. And we have to be strong and, you know, people are going to take advantage of you if you don’t figure out how to be smarter than them.
Jim: Huh. If you don’t protect yourself.
Lacey: Yes, and you have to always be on your guard. You must always think of, um – you have to have street smarts is what it is. (Laughter) You have to be, like, suspicious first. What are you trying to get from me? What do you want from me? Why are you being nice? What is – I know there’s something. Nothing’s free, you know, um, and also, I talk about this a lot in my new book, The Mystery, about this thought of is there a God who loves me or not? Is He good or not? Does He care or not? Is He going to be there for me or not? Or am I on my own and I have to figure it out for myself? I have to fight for myself. I have to defend myself. So, that’s the kind of things I thought of growing up about men. And, of course, in the end I felt that way about God…
Lacey: …And even after I became a Christian. To know that there’s a God, but then still wonder, “Am I a burden to Him? Does He really – is He really going to be there for me or do I have to just force my way into life and, you know, control and manipulate and guard myself and be smarter than, you know, the people who are going to take advantage of me and always looking for somebody to let me down…
Jim: Huh. Last time we did talk about your suicidal thoughts and where you’re at and I mentioned there is so much suicide today in, particularly, the teenagers’ world, high schools, et cetera, people that are bullied. It just seems to be that decision that’s being made, as my wife said – and my wife lost her brother to suicide many years ago. And she said, unfortunately, young people are trying to find a permanent solution, suicide, to a temporary problem…
Jim: …Whether it’s not being accepted or not feeling loved. As life continues, hopefully those pains and those things become more manageable emotionally. But teenagers aren’t always equipped to manage that trauma and they end up making the ultimate poor permanent decision of taking their own life. You mentioned in your book, The Reason, having courage to live. And I’ll point the point out and I want you to elaborate on it. But one, you said, “It’s brave to keep living when life is sad or difficult.” Now you know working with people who are sad and in despair, that’s a hard thing to convince them of. What are you getting at when you say, “Hey, it’s important to live even if you’re feeling sad?”
Lacey: Well, what I understood when I – when I encountered God was that He is very real. He is very – He’s holy. And His love is so overwhelming, so overpowering, so all-consuming that the questions and the weight and everything, it’s like turning the light on so bright that all the shadows disappear. And I don’t sit, and I say, “Well, bad things happen because of this.” No. I say, “My cousin was murdered, beaten to death by a stepfather, and then I encountered God.” And I have no reasons for the other, but I know that there’s a good God who’s holy. And I can’t tell you any answers that are tangible, but I can say when you encounter God that you will have that light that is so bright, that’s so beyond me – like, it’s so beyond me. His love is so beyond my understanding, and it’s so tangible.
Jim: Lacey, I was going to say the question might pop into people’s mind who are struggling, who have that bitterness because something bad happened. It may not have been the death of a cousin, but maybe the death of a child or the death of a spouse. How do you make that change? How does that change happen where you can go from you – in your case it moved you toward not believing in God, seeing your cousin die at the hands of his stepfather. How does a person let go? How do they say, “Okay, Lord. I’m going to accept the fact that bad things happen and that it’s not Your fault?”
Lacey: Well we – we make this outside of knowing God, and, like, not just knowing about God, but knowing Him. Outside of that, we make this life about this life, and this isn’t all there is. This is a shadow of what’s to come. We are eternal beings, and our – and to recognize if you were in heaven looking at the earth, seeing these things happen and God were to say to you, “Can I send you? Will you help? What will you do? Can you go be a light?” You know, from that perspective up there where you, in eternity, can you, will you go step into time?
Lacey: It’s like this question of like we get a chance right now. Life is a gift to you and no matter what happens, whether somebody lives or dies, you are breathing, and you have a purpose. God doesn’t give you the miracle of life on accident.
Jim: Yeah. Boy…
Lacey: And that’s what I had to understand when I woke up the next day. I wasn’t supposed to wake up today. “Why do You care? Why do You love me? And here I am.” And why’d He give me more time? Because I don’t have any plans.” (laughs)
Jim: I love the way that you depicted that and described it, because God doesn’t overstep the boundary of our own will.
Lacey: Right. Yeah.
Jim: That’s what’s so amazing. Yet He does have a plan for us. The question is are we willing? Are we willing to say, “Yes, okay. I’ll wake up today and I will live for You”?
Jim: And that’s huge! I mean that is critical. But you know so often we are distracted, “Lord, can you come back tomorrow because I got things to do today?”
Jim: And – and that’s what I love about what you have done now with your vocation. Um, a lot of Christians may question you as to why you would continue in rock music and I want to get to that, um…
Lacey: Well, I have a questions for a lot of Christians about why they would not (laughter) go into rock music! You know, I just…
Jim: No, it’s fair. Well, let’s talk about it – how God has perked your, or pricked your heart to say, “Okay, go meet with people that are not speaking Christianese. Go engage your life, pour your life out for people that don’t act the way that your Christian friends act.”
Jim: It’s easy to rationalize to pull out of that. Now, that you’re saved and you’re clean, you’re not going to put yourself in that environment. And I’m sure some people listening are saying, “Yeah, I would agree with that.”
Jim: “How could you put yourself in that spot to be in the world, especially given what God has done to save your life?” But music was a passion for you, you had the ability and you’ve chosen to stay engaged in music. Speak to this idea of you as a believer in Jesus going into the darkness to be a light.
Lacey: Well, I think the way that it happened, really, I just felt like when I sat down the next day at my school, I sat down in the cafeteria after I woke up going, “I wasn’t supposed to wake up today. Why do You care? Why do You love me?” His love just flooded me in that moment, and I knew that His purpose, I don’t know what it is, but He loves me. I walk to school. I start to see the birds in the trees and I’m like, “This is intentional. It’s not an accident. Love is everywhere.” And I sit down and I’m – when I became a fan of a band or fan of an artist, I look at all their work, all their lyrics. I – you know, I start to want to know who they are, and I – because in the art there’s the fingerprints of the artist, you know? You get to learn about them through their artwork. And so, I’m looking at nature as I walk to school that morning and I notice this is God’s art. There’s something of Him is in all of this. And then I get to school, sit in the cafeteria, look around at all these people I hated the day before and I realize – the Lord starts to press on my heart, “This is My masterpieces. These are My works of art.” And so, I was like just blown away, began to cry. I’m, like, with God’s love for each person He made, no matter, and I’m looking at the kids in special ed sitting over here and the kids – and the preppie kids over here and all of those kids nobody notices and nerdy kids over here. And I’m looking at all these people and I have just judged. And here God is like, “Each one I created. I give each one life.” And I was just blown away and I thought, I want to know them, because they say something about who God is. No matter what they’re going through, no matter what choices they’re making, if they are breathing there is some glory in them, you know? And so, it made me love people.
Jim: Yeah. Well, and – and in this context, I mean a lot of Christians, again, will say you go play music in concert halls and probably in bars and other things. What are the people like that you encounter there as you’re singing your songs and being (chuckle) a light? And describe a memory of being in front of people performing but talking about the Lord to the people that are going, “What? What is she saying?”
Lacey: So, I, um – I got to write a song for a vampire movie (laughter) and I did that after I left Flyleaf.
John: Flyleaf was your original band?
Lacey: Flyleaf was the original band I was in for 10 years and we toured all over with bands who are totally, you know, crazy. I loved that music because it was – it felt honest to me.
Lacey: It felt like more honest than other music.
Jim: Well, in fact, just as a sidebar here, you said in your book that you were screaming in your music because that was what was in your heart. And for parents who don’t understand that rage, that was an eye-opener for me when I read that – that in that artistic form of what we would say, “That’s music?”
Jim: We would be critical of that, but you were letting that emotion out, that “Nobody understand me. All I have inside of me is pain,” and you’re screaming while playing music. Is that a fair description?
Lacey: Well, yeah. I mean, I remember after I became a Christian looking for that in a Christian bookstore and wondering why people don’t have music like that in a Christian bookstore because I’m like, “Jesus died on a cross, you know. He screamed out in pain. Like, why would there not be some really heavy music here? Like, there’s some crazy things. (laughter) People were martyred for their faith. Why wouldn’t we scream about these things?” I couldn’t find it and I was confused, you know?
Jim: It’s hard to believe a soft-spoken person like you…
Jim: …Would actually scream, but I guess it’s true.
Lacey: Well, you know I think it’s whenever you have a passion for – like, I want to scream over the injustice of suicide. I know what it feels like. I want to scream over the pain somebody feels from somebody being murdered in their life or just somebody feeling like they are worthless. And it’s not true and they know they’ve been abused. And, you know, I want to scream with them. I want to say, “Yeah, God weeps with you. He’s angry over injustice,” you know. And that’s a good thing to know because people always talk about God being this all-loving God, but He has to be angry about evil with us, you know?
Jim: That’s fair.
Jim: So, you ended up doing this song for this movie…
Jim: …But talk about how God has used that.
Lacey: Well, um, I got asked to do the song after I left Flyleaf. And, um, I had been burdened in my heart about leaving Flyleaf and I had thousands of emails from kids who were asking me about feeling suicidal, feeling depressed, feeling what do I do, about not believing in God, but they want to and they don’t know where to turn. And they’ve seen all this, all these things that – and my heart was heavy to reach people who would never go to church, who would never hear the gospel. And I was like, “I’m walking away from my platform in the mainstream because as an – with an evangelists’ heart, you know, you want to keep your audience so that their ear, you know, however you can.
Lacey: And I was just crying out to God. I’m like, “God, send someone. Send someone out there. If you’re calling me home, send someone out there.” And then I got this phone call and they were asking me about doing this vampire movie and I thought, oh gosh, You’re going to let me have a voice in that environment. You know, what – how can I bring You there, you know, where those kids are, the ones who aren’t going to go to church, but they’re going to go see this movie. How can I bring Your voice there? And so, I looked up the synopsis of the movie and, um, realized there’s this whole theme about these powerful creatures, and I realized God made us to be powerful creatures.
Lacey: And I said, “Well, Jesus – well, God said, ‘I’m just going to become a Man and show them what it means to be human, what it means to be a child of God.’” And I say, “And Jesus was powerful and beautiful, and He was brave, and He was courageous and He was kind and merciful and He was miraculous.” And I was like, “This is who God calls His children to be. And I can just feel them like, “Really? (Laughter) Like that’s who I am?” “Every person He created to be His children and He said, ‘If they will just…’” And I say, you know, “So, He came to earth so He could show us who to be, and then He said, ‘I’m just going to take care of the cloud. I’m going to – yeah, they deserve to die for all this hatred and sin, so I’m just going to die in their place,’ so He’s hanging naked, bleeding, murdered by His own creation on the cross and they are spitting on Him and mocking Him and then the enemy is saying, ‘They’re not going to believe, even if you die. They’re not going to believe, even if you pay for this. They are going to keep choosing that darkness,’” and He is saying- so the chorus – the chorus says, “I won’t repent from this. Blood is binding.” And I got it from the verse that says God’s gift and call are without repentance. And so, He’s saying on the cross, and so I tell them, He’s saying, “I’m not going to repent from this, even though they are mocking and spitting. I’m not going to repent from this.” He went through, He took the sin, He went through the crucifixion. And then He went and He died and He took the keys from the devil, He busted out of hell. Nobody has to go there. He raises from the dead and says, “You are made to live forever, and if you just trust me, put your hope in me and believe it, then you can have it.”
Lacey: And I say that, and the audience is like…!
Jim: At your secular concert. (Laughter)
Lacey. Yeah, and you can tell who the Christians are because they are all ready, you know, but the non-Christians, you can tell them; they’re just a light comes on and they’re like, “Whoo! Yeah! That’s a good story! It’s good news!”
Jim: It’s the good news.
Lacey: Yeah, and so, it’s – it’s interesting to see the response. And the bar, all the people at the bar are turning and just silence, even the bartender. It’s amazing to watch it in the middle of these shows and just feel God’s presence come. And I just know He’s speaking what only He can do in their hearts.
Jim: Yeah. Let me ask you this question. With the power of media in our culture, I mean whether it’s movies or music or video games or all the things that many of us as Christian parents are concerned about because our kids are being pulled and drawn into that – what’s a perspective that we should have as Christian adults to say, okay, this is the world we live in. How do we go about embracing not the sin of it, but embracing God’s presence in it all and teaching our children to be able to be a Christ-follower, even though they are bombarded with messages that are so worldly?
Jim: I mean you’re living in both camps. You have one foot in your Christian world and one foot in your rock and roll world. How do you manage that?
Lacey: Well, I have really black-and-white conversations with my 5-year-old. He asks really good questions.
Lacey: And I don’t think I’ve ever not told him. I don’t think – and I think that the grace of God has been on me to explain to him some things and he’s seen a lot. You know, like one time he was having a fit, and he – and it was at a club, and when we went into that city, sometimes you enter a city and you can feel what’s going on in there. I have this discernment gift, and so does he. It’s an empathy gift. And, um, he has the same thing. I know he has. He’s had it since he was little. I can be smiling at him, hand him his breakfast, and him say, “Mom, why are you sad?” I’m like, “How do you know that?” He just knows.
Lacey: And so, when I walked – when I went into this city, we felt – I felt – a spirit of suicide and depression and as soon as we pulled into the club it was like, whoosh, like a really heavy. I looked out the window and there was tons of fans that were waiting outside the, um – the bar and the band we were playing with was just very dark. And you could tell they were struggling with self-harm, suicide, depression. And my son, he’s only 5, he starts having this crazy fit and he says – he starts staying terrible things about him, about himself like, “I’m always bad. I always get in trouble. I never do anything good. I don’t want to live. I don’t want to live. I don’t want to live.” And I’m like – first thing I think is, why are we here? I have to bring my kids home. Why – I can’t put my kids in this environment. And I feel the Lord’s peace come over me and He’s like, “I brought you here, remember? You don’t think I give you – I give good gifts to my children?” And He’s like, “Tell him who he is.” And so, I was able to stop, and he listened so clearly. And you know it’s important to know where you’re called. If you’re not called there, I don’t think you’d have the grace to do that. But God was so faithful to meet me. And so, I’m sitting in his little bunk and I’m telling him, “Joshua Louis, you – you,” he loves Jesus. He talks about Jesus all the time. I was like, “You love Jesus and you have His Spirit in you.” You know, he asked – one time he told me, “My soul is broken.” And I said – because he’s crying – and I was like, “Well, you can ask the Holy Spirit to come in your heart and fix your soul.” And he said, “Holy Spirit, come in my heart and fix my soul.”
Jim: Oh, sweet.
Lacey: But we’re sitting in the bunk, and I said, “You have the Holy Spirit in you, and you know God knows every person and He knows those people that are outside here.” I asked him, “Why do you – why are we here today? Why are we here?” And he’s wiping his tears, “Because you want to tell people about Jesus. You’re going to rock out and tell people about Jesus.” I said, “Yes.” And he said, “And you’re going to tell the girls,” because we talk about the girls a lot.
Jim: Yeah. That’s good.
Lacey: I said, “Yes,” and I said, “And God knows every single person’s heart and what they’re dealing with and there are people here tonight that don’t love themselves, they don’t want to live, and they hurt themselves. And what you’re feeling – these are not your feelings. You are feeling what they are feeling. And so, you need to understand.” And he – and I said, “If God gives you His Holy Spirit to show you what someone else is feeling, then you need to be know that God is calling you to pray for them.”
Lacey: And he said, “I want to pray for them now.”
Lacey: And I’m like, “Thank you, Jesus!” because that…
Jim: What a great teaching lesson.
Lacey: Yeah, because – so he goes – so he just says, “God, I pray that you would,” and he’s “let them know You love them, God. And let them know that You made them and that they have,” and he was just so beautiful. And I’m crying, you know, and so, I think the first thing is knowing where you’re called, knowing that this is what you’re meant to do so the grace of God is with you, covering you. And then being brave to trust Him to stand firm in your calling when the enemy tests…
Jim: Comes after you.
Lacey: …Tests it and says, “Well…” Because I don’t know what my son is called to do in his future, but I know it’s great because I told the Lord, “I don’t want to have boys unless they’re going to be great.” (Laughing) You know what I mean?
Jim: Absolutely. And you’re beautifully setting up the next point, which is service toward others. And that’s the answer of, you know, having that courage to live. In your book you talk about have a mindset, have a desire to serve others. And you have done such a beautiful job, Lacey, living your life, even with all of your pain – that you have been able, through the help of God, obviously, to transform that into an attitude of serving others, people that a lot of Christians would turn away from. You’re right in the middle and I so respect that, and in my own way want to do that, whether it’s with the abortion people or gay activists. You know what? God died for them, too…
Jim: …And we as Christians have to stop turning our back on them because God is saying, “Tell them about Me! And when you do it, do it with a heart of love and compassion, not judgment.”
Lacey: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Jim: And when we do that, it’s amazing how the heart of people, like at your concerts, they will open up to God because of how you have set the table. And so often, we are destroying the table.
Lacey: They have to know…
Lacey: …That you love them before you can correct anything.
John: And that brings our two part conversation with Lacey Sturm to a close. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and while that interview was from a few years ago, Lacey is still actively writing music and performing and boldly sharing her faith wherever she goes.
Jim: John, I so admire Lacey’s courage. And I hope her amazing story has inspired all of us to be bolder witnesses for Christ in our communities and in the areas of influence that God has given us. We can’t afford to be idle or comfortable in our Christianity. Now is the time to get serious about serving God and living out our beliefs before a world that is quickly moving away from the Lord. And that’s why I want to encourage you to get Lacey’s book, The Reason. It will inspire you and challenged your faith. And we can send a copy out to you when you make a monthly pledge of any amount to Focus on the Family today. And when you become a monthly supporter of Focus, your giving becomes exponential in its impact. Helping us strengthen more marriages, empower parents and rescue people who, like Lacey, have given up hope. So, let’s work together to help more hurting families and individuals through the rest of this year.
John: Call us today to make your monthly pledge and we’ll send Lacey’s book. By the way, a one-time gift will also be appreciated, and we’ll send the book when you donate that way as well. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or visit focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And at our website we have some resources about addressing the risk of teen suicide that I know you’ll find helpful. Check out our Alive to Thrive video series and a new podcast series we have called “Teen Suicide: Knowing the Signs.” Next time, Carey Casey joins us and urges you to become a champion for your grandkids.
Mr. Carey Casey: When it really gets down to it, we have to look at this thing called legacy, and that’s going to live longer than us. We have to be about something that’s bigger than us, that will live longer than us.
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Dr. Mike Bechtle explains how we can stop allowing difficult people to control our emotions, and how we can set healthy boundaries and extend the love of God to them.
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Jonathan McKee offers parents practical advice and encouragement in a discussion based on his book If I Had a Parenting Do Over: 7 Vital Changes I’d Make.