(Photo courtesy of Brianna Broyles and Universal Music Group)
The Other Side of Healing
An Interview on Finding Recovery in Creativity with Jeremy Camp
By Sarah Komisky
When we go through hard things in life, it is always comforting to talk to someone who’s been there. Accomplished Capitol CMG songwriter and recording artist, Jeremy Camp has. No stranger to pain and loss, Camp began the year debuting the much-anticipated feature film about his life entitled, “I Still Believe” that tackled these very themes. Quickly gaining box-office momentum, the movie shot to the top until the outbreak of the pandemic shifted dreams suddenly. In this unexpected and disillusioning place, Camp would be left to wonder, as many of us did as well, ‘what’s next?’
To answer the question is to go on a journey with the artist in retrospect. This interview is a conversation that does just that as it takes a look back into Camp’s pain, process, and project alongside wife, Adrienne. Here is a candid look at what he had to share on his 20/20 journey, the beauty of collaborating on the album “The Worship Project,” the healing found in creativity, and why placing art in God hands turned out to be the most incredible thing he could do in a pandemic. Enjoy.
Sarah: So diving straight into “The Worship Project.” I loved it so much. I listened to another interview and I thought it was really interesting that you said that God really nudged you to pick up your guitar and that’s kind of where everything began for you, so maybe share a little bit about that.
Jeremy: Yeah, so I’ve had many instances in the past and one in particular when I wrote the song called “I Still Believe” where I felt that nudge, like, ‘pick your guitar up, now’s the time,’ and that’s what transpired.
It’s always been something special, and so this is one of those times where, I’ll be honest…it was – here we are. There’s a pandemic, my tour got cancelled, the movie got taken out of theaters because of Covid. It was just one of those times when I just felt down and disappointed, and all these different emotions. And so, I remember for the first couple days, I really couldn’t get out of bed. I just I thought, ‘What is happening?’
On Monday morning I remember I woke up and I just felt that nudge again that I needed to pick my guitar up. I was like, “Ugh, OK.” [Laughs]. Through music, God just really speaks to me, and in a sense, there’s healing that happens. So, I got up, and it just came out. The song called “Whatever May Come.” So, it really was the starting point of, ‘OK God, you’re downloading all this stuff to teach me things,’ and I just told my wife, “Hey, what if we just did a quick recording on Facebook?” And, I just pushed play on my video camera on my phone and then just sent it to Facebook and Instagram and she sang with me – we got like a crazy response. And I’m like, ‘OK, wow people are hungry right now, and it’s crazy!’ I didn’t think anything of it. I was like, ‘Wow, Lord, thank you that you’re still using this,’ and all of a sudden, God kept giving me more songs. And I thought, ‘OK!’ So that just kept happening to the point where I just knew basically that this was something that He was doing.
It was nothing I was trying to manufacture. My label asked, “Are you going to do anymore of these because – that did really well!” And I said, “I’m not writing anymore songs unless it’s something He lays on my heart.” It just happened. I didn’t tell anybody until – me and my wife sat down and wrote some songs and then I just said, “Hey, I really want to put out some songs that we had written during this time,” and everyone agreed, “Yeah, that’d be great.” I showed them some of the songs.
I didn’t want anything…I didn’t want any agenda. I didn’t want any expectations. I didn’t want anything to be complicated. I just said, “I just want to sing these songs with my wife that we’ve written and hopefully encourage the body [of Christ] to keep their eyes fixed upon Jesus.” And so, that’s what happened. And I think that’s why it’s so special because it wasn’t manufactured. It wasn’t overthought. It just was, ‘here’s our worship to the Lord, and hopefully, it encourages you.’
Sarah: I love that. that’s amazing. And this month at our magazine, we’re going to be launching an issue that’s devoted to creativity and celebrating that. So, when talking about that subject, I think a powerful thing when I think about this record is that it’s so Holy Spirit-filled. So, talk about why that is so important to invite the Holy Spirit into our creativity.
Jeremy: Well, we know the disciples in the book of Acts – they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. That’s when they went out in boldness, and that’s when they had all these miraculous things happen. And so we know from scripture that – and even things from our own lives – that when you’re infused with the Holy Spirit and say, “God, pour out what you want in this” – there is amazing creativity and power impact that happens. And I think that God is a God of endless creativity.
If you think about the vast world that we live in and the millions of different types of species of creatures and it’s just insane to think about all the vast things that God has created. His creativity is endless. So when you tap into that well that never runs dry, that’s when special things happen, and that’s when you can really say, “OK this is God’s hand upon this.” And so, it’s really key. Because if you want true impact and true creativity that’s sent from the Holy Spirit, then you have to be infused with Him, and invite Him in every aspect of it.
Sarah: Yeah, I agree, and you touched on it a little bit earlier. You were talking about songwriting and how it is a vehicle to express your emotions. And I think a lot of people have been doing that in different ways this year – in 2020. Talk about – especially with “The Worship Project” – how that enabled you to have an outlet to express yourself through this really crazy season.
Jeremy: Well, I think there’s a lot of reflection that’s happened during this time. And I think that there’s been different themes that God’s been teaching me throughout it. I feel like they were really birthed during these song sessions. One is basically saying that whatever I face, You are with me. Whatever may come – I know You’ll hold me. So no matter what, whatever the pain or the hurt – all those different things – I know that God is – He’s always said, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” And so you have that aspect of knowing, ‘OK, there’s a lot of things happening, all these different ups and downs, but God has never left me.’ He’s literally carried me through all this. And you have the times that you’re like, ‘OK, now God’s stripping away things in my heart’ because you’re really hyperfocused on, ‘OK Lord, what are you doing here?’ And if you allow God to show you and highlight areas of your heart, then He will.
I felt “Your Way, Yahweh” – it’s the “purify our hearts, teach us how to walk in Your way.” You know, tear down every wall that we’ve built basically. And it’s these themes throughout – turn your eyes upon Jesus. When he [Peter] stepped out onto the sea and he was focused on Christ, he was fine. But when he started looking at the things that were all around him, that’s when fear and worry overtook him. He started sinking. It’s almost like the weight of those things were pushing him down. And I think about, that’s very much the simple answer to our issue in our world today. It’s that we are not focused on Christ. Whether you know Christ or not, or you do know Christ and your eyes are off of Him because you’re focused on all your surroundings, or just distracted by whatever. Those things weigh you down and you start to sink, and so, it’s all those different themes that I was able to express in this writing process which was really incredible. And to be able to collaborate with my wife as well was so amazing.
Sarah: That actually leads me to my next question. I got to talk to your wife a few months ago and she’s amazing.
Jeremy: Yes. She is.
Sarah: So this is very special that you got to collaborate together, and I think when you work together, you get to know somebody even more. And even if you guys are married, you get to discover new things about each other. So what did you discover while creating this project?
Jeremy: Well, I think really understanding her writing ability, as in just lyrics. I’m thinking, ‘OK, we’ve never really written a song together.’ Which is insane. I mean, we have – we did a little bit in the past, but it was very short, and in the beginning of our marriage. I think it was 15 years ago, but there’s been a lot more depth and a lot more things God has taught us since then. So, I think that you start to see her ability to tap into the lyrics and different things and express them in a creative way.
It was special too. Just watching her really put her heart into this fully, passionately, and just go, “yeah, I’m all in” – she’s always been that way, but everything I’m seeing is just her being fully in, and fully engaged.
Sarah: That’s beautiful. And I think, some of the most beautiful things can come out of pain. During this time of writing the album, how did your pain turn into beauty through the music you both wrote?
Jeremy: I think there’s a growth that’s happened in our family as well. Because I think that we’ve had to re-shift and refocus. Basically our plate has been cleaned, and so, it’s like, ‘OK God, what do You want us to put back on our plate?’ And so, I think that’s been so good, to learn that.
I also think, the beauty of my family growing. We’ve had some amazing discussions, Bible studies and times of worship as a family that, I don’t think we would have had this much time at all if I would have continued to do what I was doing. Not that anything was bad. It was just that you grow, and you realize that, wow, through this, in a sense – through pain and disappointment – there’s a growth that happens. It’s the refining factor of what we have to go through to be refined like gold is refined through fire or the clay that is being shaped and molded. Sometimes it’s not liking the direction that its going, but it’s saying, ‘OK, now I see the beauty in that.’ It’s very necessary, and pain is a necessary aspect of our walk with the Lord. I mean, Jesus dying on the cross was ultimate pain and suffering, but it brought forth life and redemption.
Sarah: Right. So true. I’m going to go back to “The Worship Project” for a moment. At Marked Ministry Magazine, one of our focuses is reaching youth with hope. And, I wondered because you have Egan and two teenage girls who are dabbling in a lot of creative projects, as a dad, what is your hope for your kids, in terms of leaving their mark, in the time we’re living in?
Jeremy: You know, I’ll give you an example. My my middle daughter is fourteen now, Aerie, and she told me – I don’t know how many years ago now – five years ago maybe? I’m trying to think exactly when, but she said, “You know, Dad, I don’t want to do what you do.” And I was like, “oh babe, that’s OK. You don’t have to do what I do.” I said, “It’s not a big deal, I just want whatever you do, to do as unto the Lord. Just serve Jesus in whatever you do, and give it your whole heart.” And of course, now she wants to do music, so she’s fully on. She has a song coming out this Friday [October 1st].
Sarah: I saw that. That’s awesome.
Jeremy: Yeah, which is really exciting. And so, she’s all about it. But I think with my kids, I always tell them, “You can make a great impact on your generation. But that shouldn’t be a pressure thing where you’re like, ‘I need to make a big impact on my generation.’”
What it is, is that you’re faithful with what God’s given you with your whole heart and give it 100%. And you will affect people along the way. If God gives you a platform, then just be faithful with that platform. And if it ends up impacting this generation or if it impacts someone who’s going to impact this generation, or whatever it may be, you just serve the Lord and don’t have that pressure. You just love Jesus.
You know, I think there’s a pressure of “I need to do something great for the Lord,” but yes, I understand that, but you know, there’s pressure in that…because then you are looking for something great instead of saying, “God, I want to look for something that You have put in my path that I can be faithful with.” And if you’re doing that, He’ll take care of the rest. I think that’s the key. I think in this generation, there’s a lot of, self-made celebrities and all these different people that people feel a pressure to make that kind of mark, and it’s not what God looks at as faithful. He looks at faithfulness as being faithful with what He’s given you, and He’ll open the doors as He sees fit.
Sarah: That’s really good, I agree. I think it does take down that pressure that we have internally, and then externally by what we see, especially on social media.
Sarah: Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today, and even doing fun Disney questions.
Jeremy: Yes. Absolutely. I love it.
Find out more about Jeremy by visiting jeremycamp.com