(Photo courtesy of Out of the Dust)
Q&A: Out of the Dust
By Sarah Komisky
Chris and Stephanie are not your typical married duo. While many husband and wife teams have romantically dissolved over the years, this pair has decided to do things differently. Rising from the dust of a broken marriage and divorce, the couple found hope in a relationship with Jesus Christ that binds the ties of relationship, marriage and music.
When and how did you guys start doing music?
Stephanie: Chris has been writing and playing music since he picked up the guitar in high school, and we started leading worship together for a college group as freshman in college. Crazy enough, it wasn’t until after our marriage completely fell apart that we started writing music together. In the summer of 2011, we decided to go to a [Gospel Music Association] conference called “Immerse” kind of on a whim, and ended up placing second in the band competition. That experience along with continued confirmation from the people around us spurred us on to pursue music together in a capacity that allowed us to tell the story of God’s miraculous redemption in our lives. We played our first show as Out of the Dust in the fall of 2012 and haven’t looked back since.
What are some of your musical influences and why?
Chris: Well, John Mayer changed my musical life about 13 years ago, so I’ve always appreciated his incredible sense of pop music and melody without having to sacrifice artistry. All of the acts we love: Ben Rector, All Sons & Daughters, Brook Fraser, Fleet Foxes, etc. are all completely authentic and vulnerable about their humanity and imperfection. We also really like having electro-pop dance parties with our kids. It just doesn’t influence our music a whole lot.
Your key statement on your website is “Restored Lives + Redemption Music.” What does that mean to you?
Stephanie: That statement along with our band name speaks so deeply to what God has brought us through and the hope we have in Him. Our marriage quickly collapsed to the point of divorce because of struggles Chris was having with drugs and his belief in God, as well as our own naïveté and selfishness. God took something as broken as our relationship and redeemed us as individuals and as a couple in a way that could only be described as a miracle. And now we feel responsible to tell the story that He has given us to bring hope to the hurting, no matter what situation they may find themselves in. We strive to write music that reflects our brokenness as Christ followers yet offers hope and redemption to those who hear it.
What is some advice you would give on the subject of forgiveness?
Chris: Yeah, we’ve had our fair share of trouble, and “rocky” might be putting it lightly (laughs). When we were divorced from each other and before we were remarried, we went through some very deep soul searching. Some was guided reflection through counseling and some was alone, but we learned through that time that no marriage is unbroken because both people are broken. We all are. So when it comes to forgiveness, if we feel we’ve been wronged or hurt or cheated, mentally it makes grace more available when we call to mind our own brokenness. No one is blameless and we all need forgiveness, so humility is the name of the game because at the end of the day, forgiveness is just as much for you as it is for the other.
How did God begin to put your relationship back together?
Stephanie: A few months after the divorce was final, God brought Chris to a very desperate place and revealed himself in ways that were undeniable. He was convinced that God was calling him to pursue me again, but it took a couple months before I felt the same call. After some counseling separately as well as together, we got the go-ahead from our counselor and from the people closest to us that it was a healthy thing to move forward. Just a little over a year from the day Chris sat me down to tell me he didn’t believe in God and didn’t want to be married anymore, we got remarried in a tiny ceremony surrounded by our family.
So many of us want to quit when relationships get hard. Why would you say that that isn’t the answer?
Chris: There is an author named Richard Rohr who says that through Jesus’ life we learn that the two primary paths of transformation are great love and great suffering. In the context of our marriage, it’s undeniable. The way that God has enabled Stephanie to love me has absolutely transformed me. Similarly, the suffering that we’ve been through together has had a greater impact on our lives than any other single event. One of the lyrics in a song we recently wrote is, “Through every trial we are grateful nothing is wasted, You use brokenness to make us whole.” With that attitude, there is hardly any marital, or even relational, struggle that cannot be seen as an opportunity to learn more about who you are, who God is and what He can teach you through the pain and struggle.
What advice would you give to others who are currently in a rocky place in their [dating or marriage] relationship?
Stephanie: Marriage is worth fighting for. Looking back, we see just how naϊve and self-centered we were as a young married couple. First and foremost, we are huge advocates of counseling. Your marriage or potential marriage is worth investing in, so make sure and get great premarital counseling. Plus, regular checkups with a counselor or pastor is so beneficial whether you find yourself in a difficult or an easy season. Having someone outside of yourselves is so helpful to gain perspective and see blind spots that you aren’t aware of. Another huge thing that was lacking in our marriage the first go-around, that is monumentally important, was open and honest communication. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but nothing will build up a wall between two people faster than trying to handle things on your own, or keeping things from your significant other. We have learned that it’s better to speak truth that may hurt someone that to try to protect them or yourself by withholding. We honestly could write a book about what we’ve learned in the short 10 years that we have been married (laughs). We are always open to talk with anyone who wants advice or to know more about any part of our story. All you’ve got to do is reach out to us from our website or our social media accounts.
Let’s talk about your single, “All That I Am Made For.” How did that song come about?
Chris: The song “All That I’m Made For” was a really fun song to write. Things like that never happen very quickly for us. We are far from being commercial songwriters who can crank out songs in a 3 hour session. Though writing can be tedious, we always try to hang our hat on the phrase “music people want to hear with truth they need to hear.” “All That I’m Made For” is no different. We wrote that song mostly about the incredible experience we had traveling to Kenya for mission work at an orphanage called Fiwagoh. It was devastating and glorious all at the same time. Coming back to the U.S. after an experience like that can cause significant culture shock and clarity for what we truly need in life. It is abundantly clear that more stuff and more “me” is not what we need or what the world needs. So the song is an upbeat and fun outcry of our hearts for God to wake us up from the American dream and show us what we can be when He truly takes over our lives.
I know you have a house tour coming up, what is that going to be like?
Stephanie: We are so stinking excited to start our summer house tour. We are following a model a fellow indie artist has used and we decided to reach out to our fans to see if anyone would be interested in hosting one of the shows. We were blown away by the amount of people who responded and were able to nail down about 30 shows all over the United States. We’re putting together what we feel will be a truly unique and special night — an intimate concert experience where God is glorified and meaningful connections will be made among new friends through music. We are so honored to be able to do what we do and that people are willing to invite us into their homes.
What’s coming up in the future for Out of the Dust?
Chris: We are working harder and staying busier than we ever have and with that comes more excitement than we’ve ever had. One of the things we’re pumped about is partnering with an incredible global ministry called Our Daily Bread and their record label Discovery House. We’re in the middle of making more music for a release with them that will come out this fall. House tours, new records, new music videos, radio promotion. Our future and the mission God has given us to spread His love and His hope of redemption has never been clearer. Honestly though, some days it’s terrifying to live in constant faith, never knowing where the road will lead, or if the road will even be paved a mile from here. But, every single step we take, in faith, down the path God has given us has always lead to deeper intimacy with Him and greater love for His people.
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