(Photo courtesy of Birdhouse Group Inc.)
Lessons Learned When Life Raises Its Voice
An Interview with Lacey Sturm
By Sarah Komisky
One definitive through line in Lacey Sturm’s story is life. It will not take long for her to tell you personally how sacred the word is to her because at 16-years-old, she almost lost it. Since that point, every part of life has become meaningful and Sturm cannot deny its impact. In a world plagued by darkness and in a rock genre focused on romanticizing death and negativity, the singer and writer alternatively focuses on advocating for hope and life. Today, the wife, mom, writer, and former Flyleaf singer, who recently went solo, opens up about her latest music project that peeked Billboard Hard Rock charts. With vibrancy, passion, and spunk, Sturm shares from her own story on lessons learned when life raises its voice.
Born to a low income, single, teen mom, seeds of faith were sown at a young age. Recalling these moments, Sturm shared, “We’d give our food stamps away to someone who she [my mom] thought needed them more. There’s a scripture that says those who are poor are rich in faith, and it’s true.”
When the bottom dropped out, Sturm’s mother reminded her that God would take care of her and her siblings, to which she attested to occurring.
Yet tragedy marred her world and her view of God when her little cousin was beaten to death when Sturm was only 10-years-old. Questioning why God would let that happen and not finding any good answers, Sturm stopped believing and became an atheist without even knowing the word at the time. Vowing to keep a commitment to being sad for her cousin’s sake, she also would begin to attempt to discount people’s faith out of a heart to keep people from being let down.
“I went on this journey of just spiraling into purposelessness as an atheist and trying to make my own morality that changed all the time and fighting for myself. In orphanness, you have to be God,” she says. “I have to control my own life and make sure people don’t ruin their lives. It’s exhausting. In the end, all of it was very destructive.”
Worn from all the pain in her heart and all she went through, Sturm made the decision to take her life at 16. On the same day, an argument with her grandma changed everything. Begrudgingly going to church, the pastor spoke and suddenly began to weep, which was the first moment Sturm understood God’s love noting, “That was shocking because I didn’t think Christians cried.”
Sensing a suicidal spirit in the room, the pastor asked if that person would come and let the church pray for them. Not wanting to go up in front of people, she attempted to walk out the back of the church when she was stopped by another man. He shared, “Even though you never knew an earthly father, God will be an even better father to you than an earthly father could ever be and He sees you when you cry yourself to sleep at night and all that pain that you have been rehearsing.” This was exactly what Sturm did every night.
She interjects, “The Bible says to meditate on things that are good and lovely and things that are true and praiseworthy, what is good and I think it’s so funny and interesting that the enemy has no creativity at all. He seeks God’s ways and he twists them. Because that meditative part of our hearts and minds is meant to encourage ourselves and the enemy uses it to discourage us.”
Transitioning back to her story, Strum remembers the words of the man that stopped her in the back of church saying, “Did you know that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of the world so He carried the cost of sin Himself so we don’t have to carry it ourselves and I can pray and let God take that pain in your [Sturm’s] heart through what Jesus did so you [Sturm] wouldn’t have to.”
Agreeing Sturm says, she was in the presence of God expressing, “It was such a powerful experience of knowing first of all, that God is real. Understanding God is real is something that changed me in a way that when I look at the way people talk or sing about God, I just think, they don’t sing and they don’t talk about Him like He is real, and they don’t even go about their lives like God is real, even though they say they have faith and they act like it’s a really big part of their lives that governs their choices.”
She expands, “The fear that came over me in that moment, was just kind of like, this awe of knowing that God is real and He created us all and that we all will face the One that created us one day. The only thing that keeps somebody with a personality like mine and the experience like mine and someone on the right path I guess, because I get very cynical and I get very empty and it all feels very pointless outside of knowing that God created us for a purpose and there is a beauty around this because of us for His love.
Understanding the messages life is screaming at us is what Sturm believes is utterly key confessing that life is meant for us to experience new love to share with others. She acknowledges, “The only thing that keeps me from feeling this despair and this upheaval going on around me is to know that He is real and He’s love, He is perfect love. Everything I thought was love was not love compared to what God was in that moment.”
Understanding God is real revolutionized Sturm’s life and the fervor for life continues as life continued for Sturm as she toured with her popular rock band Flyleaf and then entered a new season, where she balanced family time with speaking and writing her books “The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living” and “The Mystery: Finding True Love in a World of Broken Lovers.” Now taking on a new role as a solo artist, Sturm still shares about this passion for life. Now, it’s echoed in her album, Life Screams observing, “In Scripture, He’s always using the shadows of the spiritual reality that is the light behind it all. Maybe there is a message in all of this and maybe the message is, it’s broken and we need a model.”
Sturm also continued to share of life screaming while we search for it in restlessness quoting C.S. Lewis as deeming pain as God’s microphone. The musician quickly notes that sometimes there are moments when life screams and it’s important.
Laughing, she offers up a funny life lesson sharing, “I remember my husband being upset with me about yelling one time and I was just so confused and I was just like ‘listen, if my kid was drowning, I would be like [in a whispered tone], honey, you know what, I think our kid is going to drown’ [laughs]. I would be like, ‘HONEY OUR KID IS DROWNING!’ To me there are certain things that come to me spiritually or emotionally that feel that way.”
One way Sturm puts her feet to faith by going into the mainstream world, taking on one assignment at a time. As darkness sweeps the rock genre with negative messages, Sturm seeks to shed light on the prevailing darkness.
“When you get a whole crowd to sing about wanting to die and go to hell, to me, it’s like, really? And what did it take to get someone to just wink at that to the point where they’re totally deceived that it’s actually a reality,” she confesses. “Death is a reality and people are choosing death in their lives everyday and that’s not where we want to be. It’s not a joke, it’s not a lifestyle, it’s not a poem that we celebrate or a song or fashion that we wear. It’s a reality. And, it’s an eternal choice we make. Everyday we’re heading towards death or life.”
She continues, “It’s just shocking to me that there’s so much out there now that helps us to meditate and choose death instead of what rock was meant to me (or what it was to me), to help you not feel alone in your pain but also to help you fight to overcome this. And that’s why I love rock in the first place and that’s the kind of spirit I wrote the record to say how can I bring life in this death and can I help you stand up in your purpose? To stand up in your pain. And it’s always saying you can’t stand up and I want to say no, that’s why I’m going to stand up. I’m going to stand up because I’m not going to stand for this pain anymore keeping me down. I’m going to stand.”
Equally Sturm has been diligent about only going where God has called her to go saying that she knows she will serve Him best wherever the Captain of the Army is (Jesus). She adds, “If I think I am going to serve Him best by bringing light in the darkness by being on stage at a rock show, and He says no, you have to be at home loving my kids, then I’m only serving my own ideas and I’m wearing myself out and vice versa.”
Wrapping up her soon to be released book entitled, “The Return: Reflections on Loving God Back,” Sturm shares personal stories from life and inspires others with a prayer, to-do list, and journal saying, “Since every day is a gift, what are we doing with it?”
For more on Lacey Strum check out laceysturm.com