(Photo courtesy of Rogers & Cowan)
How Julianna Zobrist carries a message of confidence
By Sarah Komisky
When it comes to Julianna Zobrist, what you see is what you get. Besides her infectious laugh and down to earth personality, the wife of Cubs’ Ben Zobrist and dedicated mom of three is a serious fashionista. Yet, what she wears best is not her amazing shoes or funky prints, but her confidence in her true identity, an identity she has placed in Jesus Christ. With this confidence, she has set about to spread the message she has come to call Shatterproof (also the name of her newest record). Marked Ministry was super excited to get the opportunity to hear more about the Shatterproof message, how it can help us live outside the opinions of others, avoid unhealthy relationships and stay true to who we are. Enjoy!
I was listening to an interview and you were talking a little bit about a story with a little girl being bullied. Is that how the Shatterproof message got started? Maybe you could expand on that.
Julianna: My best friend had a daughters friend who was in kindergarten and they were having an issue with this little boy on the playground who was bullying her. It was not in the traditional bullying way that I would have expected, but he was telling her that she was beautiful one day and the next time that she was ugly and the next thing that she was beautiful and then the next thing that she’s ugly. This kindergartener, is the most beautiful, physically beautiful girl you would ever see, and on top of that, with the kindest, sweetest spirit, so it was really infuriating to me, and obviously more so to her mother, who was trying to reinstill the truth into her heart.
So I was on my way to a writing appointment when she called, yet again, telling me that this little girl didn’t even get dressed that morning, because she was so terrified that the little boy was going to call her ugly for what she was wearing. It just really struck a chord in me, because being a mom of three, it made me very, very upset, so I went into this writing room wanting to write a song called “Shatterproof.” I want to tell this little girl and myself and other girls like her that we don’t need to dress for anyone else. But, also where is confidence going to come from? Why do we need to feel approved by one little boy on the playground you aren’t even friends with?
I began writing this song and it struck me that I really began to empathize with the bully himself. That he was very manipulative with her, we would call it passive aggressive, but not being truthful about what he was really wanting. He actually, at the end of the day, just wanted to be her friend. He didn’t know how to say that and in return he started this manipulative, controlling kind of behavior with her. It really struck a chord with me because how often I do that in my own personal relationships, when I’m insecure about something or insecure about what another person has chosen to do with their life. Rather than choosing to have a genuine conversation where I’m asking questions, it’s become this kind of verbal gymnastics type situation where you’re dancing around the subject and not really saying what you mean. I began to see in how many ways I was like this in my life, being passive aggressive with my husband, being emotionally lazy, taking things out on my kids that had nothing to do with my children. I got upset at them, but really I was upset about the fact that they dropped a snow globe on the floor at Target.
So now, it has been two years of research and study around this subject of being shatterproof. What does it mean to have your approval left in the hands of God? What does that look like? If God is your authority, if the Word of God is your authority, how can we rest in that and find freedom and then how do we take that freedom and become confident and secure women? So that is how Shatterproof began and it has been such an amazing journey. For me, a realization of my own heart and awareness when it comes to how I deal with other relationships as well.
How do you think that we can even begin to start to not elevate people’s opinions in that way where we get fearful, where we let it dictate our lives? Maybe share a little bit about that and how we can start taking those steps forward?
Julianna: The first step necessary is to be aware of it. More often times then not, I’ll give you an example, say my husband will come in and something’s wrong and I’m short with him and he’s going, “What’s the matter? Did I do something? Are you mad at me?” And I’m like, “Actually, no.” I just had a hard day and the kids did this and I’m taking my emotions out on him, when they’re completely misdirected. So honestly, the first step for me has been awareness of that. There’s been awareness of how other people do that to me and then also in turn, the way I try and do that to other people.
And then secondly, you have you to decide who is going to hold the authority in your life. You know, a lot of the time fear holds authority and we don’t do things because we’re too afraid to, or we don’t say truthful things because we’re afraid someone won’t like us, or where afraid to be honest with our mom because we’re afraid she’s going to be disappointed in us. So a lot of the time, fear holds authority in our lives. Often times, it’s disapproval, this need for approval from other people and honestly a lot of that stems from the insecurity in not knowing where your authority rests. When you begin to become aware of this in your own life or others lives, the way they control and manipulate, born out of insecurities, the more apparent it becomes and necessary it becomes for us to know, OK, who decides what I do in my life? Is it me? Is it fear? Is it what’s going to make everyone happy? Or is it, the instructions and the Word of God, and then leaning on His Holy Spirit for other things. And so, I have just begun to cling onto the Word of God because He has given it. We can take the Word of God and hold onto that and say, this is my authority and anything written outside the Word of God, that is simply an opinion, that’s simply a preference.
I’m a mom with so many different ways of parenting. Everybody has a book out there and a different method, and it’s very easy to take those preferences too far. We elevate them as Gospel truth, when they really aren’t. And so to be aware of that is a very powerful thing. To me this season came when a woman was talking to me about where we were in our lives, being in an entertainment world, where a lot of people know us, she was very serious about what we were or were not doing in terms of ministry. Because, we came to find out, she didn’t consider our lives a ministry. She considers going to Bible school and doing those sort of traditional things being more or less used by God. I mean, I’m so happy that she thought that homeschooling was the way to go for her family, but unless I see it in the Word of God where I’m instructed to do that, than I’m going to do what’s right for my family. When it comes to school and how to feed them, all these things we have such strong opinions on, as women, with each other. Really it ultimately puts us in bondage through others opinions, instead of giving one another the grace and freedom to be able to be who we are and live the life that only God has set before us and no else can decide how you live.
You touched on the relationships that we have with each other as women, but I wanted bring it back to guy relationships. Our magazine is devoted to purity and what that looks like in this generation, so we talk a lot about relationships. So, how does the Shatterproof message help girls navigate guy relationships?
Julianna: One thing when you’re thinking on who’s going to be the authority in your life, one thing I think about the Shatterproof message is illuminating the fact that God does not use shame as a method or motivator for us. Yes, we might feel guilt because there is innately in us this need for right and wrong and a lot of times that should motivate us to not make those poor decisions again. But, this idea that God uses shame to control us or change us, I think is completely wrong and completely false.
A lot of times we fall into that, I fell into that as a young girl because I felt that I wasn’t being sufficient for the boy that I was dating, who wasn’t a believer and wanted to do these physical things with me. I felt, because he was saying stuff like, “You’re a Christian, I need you to give me grace here,” and I would be going, “OK sure.” And really what he was doing was using this shame and ugly sin to control me and me keep in this unhealthy relationship.
It’s important to realize that that happens very often and what the Word of God can do and the authority of God can do in our lives is empower us and give us the boldness to say, “I just don’t want this!” Like this is wrong and according to what God is telling me, this is wrong and I’m going to stand on that and not be afraid to stand on that. And then to even take it further, when someone is saying, “Oh but you need to give me grace, oh but you need to forgive me,” you need to realize that God does not use those shaming messages towards you saying, “You have to do this.” It is not our job to be someone else’s Holy Spirit in their lives. I wish I had been empowered just in and of myself to just rest on that truth because so many of my relationships growing up were, I just did whatever I wanted because it was fun and I would get these guys who were like, “But you’re a Christian. You should be doing this and you need to be X, Y, and Z.” I wish that I would have had the confidence to say, “God doesn’t tell me that in His Word.”
He can embolden you and He could have emboldened me at the time to be able to put my foot in the ground and say, “I’m not dealing with this, just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean that I turn a blind eye to sin or to manipulation.” I see that very rampant in relationships and obviously I’m not an expert in any way, shape or form when it comes to abusive relationships, so I would say to those girls that they need to seek safety and professional help immediately because no one person’s advice is going to save them from that kind of manipulating environment.
I love how you bring it all back to God and His Word and standing on that to bring security. Bringing things ups to speed, I thought this would be kind of fun to ask you, how does Ben [Zobrist] inspire you to be a Shatterproof woman, being free to be yourself and walk as the person God has called you to be?
Julianna: Ben has always loved my personality. He appreciates our differences. We could not get any different when it comes to our personalities because we are on completely separate sides of the spectrum, but he recognizes and realizes each one of our good gifts that we have are a reflection of God and His personality and being made in His image. And it really is a joy for us, to be married and be together to see the way we’re different from each other, because it’s like a glimpse into the heart of God. God is equally as extroverted as he is introverted for sure, He is outspoken, but yet also patient and careful with His words and we have no way of understating Him completely, but it’s sweet to see how in a relationship you can release each other to just be the person that they are and recognize that neither is better or worse, but that they are both reflections of being made in the image of God Himself. It’s a really powerful thing and on a really tangible level, Ben has always loved the fact that I have weird hair and that I dress completely kooky. I have so much fun with what I do in life and he appreciates that and he never in any way tried to squelch that part of me. He’s always really been very encouraging when it comes to all things creative, so that’s been very fun for me.
That is so great! You’re so fashionable. I love you’re style! I was looking at your Instagram and I was like, “That’s so cute!” And it’s so different and unique. I love that that you are just confidant as the person you are and I think more women need to be like that.
Julianna: And we all can be! That’s what’s so fun! People ask me, “How do you pull that off?” And I’m like, confidence is really the only common theme in my life when it comes to creative expression. And you’ve got to have it. You’ve got to know and never lose what it is you love and I think a lot of time, as women, when we get older or we settle down, it’s so easy, you don’t neglect yourself. You don’t have to forget who you are and forget what you love, in an effort to put others before you. You don’t forget that. I’m very much a firm believer in remaining true to who you are, just those innate things that you love that have no rhyme or reason.
Like my daughter, when we go to get our manicures, she’s five-years-old, and she will pick five different colors and she’ll know exactly what finger she wants the color on and she’s like, “Oh I want yellow on my pinky finger, not my ring finger.” And she knew the whole thing. And it’s such a funny example, but the heart of it, I think is so beautiful. I mean there’s no right or wrong way to paint your nails, and as we grow older we tend to lose what we enjoy and love, just for the sake of loving. This gift that God has given of just being able to enjoy life, we just sort of lose it and before we know it we’re asking, “Hey, what color do you think I should paint my nails?” “Hey, do you like this color?” We lose the ability to say, I love this color, I’m going to paint my nails this color and no one else is going to tell me otherwise. Slowly but surely we just lose touch with who we are and what gives us life and joy and it’s fun for me to be able to freely express my faith in all these different ways. Writing, music, fashion, etc. allow me to be courageous to put myself out there; to see how it’s freeing other women to be courageous themselves, to tap back into the way God uniquely made them.
That’s such a powerful message. So as we’re wrapping up, I know you dabble in lots of different things like you said but maybe you can share whats up next for you?
Julianna: It’s all part of a plan. I’m very much a planner. I was deciding in high school, whether or not to go into micro biology or music. So I have this far left brain, far right brain thing that drives my team absolutely crazy [Laughs]. The record came out last year and we are about to release a new single, which will be very exciting. Currently, I’m working on writing a book. Which is expanding on this Shatterproof message, hopefully offering some sort of bravery and confidence to other women. So we are working very hard on that right now and about to start back up in May with some shows, which will be the tail end of the Shatterproof idea.
Discover more about Julianna’s music and message by visiting www.juliannazobrist.com