There are a lot of things in life that require bravery. Often times, I feel as though mostly decisions in life only lack bravery on my part. It’s why I’m thrilled to tell you about a new book, by Ann White, 7 Steps to Courage.
In this guide to address areas in your life that specifically lack courage. Author and TV host Ann White knows firsthand that courage begins with one fearless choice. As a Bible study teacher at First Baptist Woodstock with a seemingly perfect life, she made the choice to address the issues that were plaguing her life and marriage. Ann shares her transparent journey that enabled her to face her past, make fearless choices, and find joy in God’s freedom and grace in 7 Steps to Courage.
7 Steps to Courage is a blueprint providing readers the tools to make courageous choices no matter their circumstances, and helping them to replace fear with faith. Each of the seven steps represents a letter in the word “courage”: Commit to change, Overcome obstacles, Uncover your true self, Replace worldly lies with spiritual truth, Accept the things you cannot change, Grasp God’s love for you, and Embrace a life of grace. Ann admits the first step, Commit to change, is the hardest and most significant.
Ann’s book has many endorsers including her own pastor, Dr. Johnny Hunt of First Baptist Woodstock, who said, “I have watched these truths lived out in her marriage.” Dr. Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, describes this book in six words–honest, transparent, vulnerable, courageous, encouraging, and insightful. Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary deemed it, “An inspiration to those who choose to do the hard things in marriage, rather than take the easy way out.”
Sonoma Christian Home interviewed Ann White at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville about her book, which offers seven doable steps so others can face their fears and walk in courage and faith. SCH Contributor Ginny Dent Brant reports.
SCH: How hard was it to admit to your pastor and his wife that your marriage was not what you portrayed when you were a leader in that church?
AW: It all started in 2012 when my son and I went on a trip to Israel with my pastor, his wife, and a group from my church. My marriage was basically over at that point. We loved each other, but we were two broken people and both carrying baggage too heavy to bear. God gave me the courage to come out of isolation and told me to write down my situation and deliver that note to my pastor‘s room (Johnny and Janet Hunt). If I had stopped and thought, I would have changed my mind. After delivering it to their room, I was shaking all the way back to my room. My husband had no clue I was doing this.
SCH: As with many people, your dysfunction began in your childhood. Tell us about the courage it took to unwrap boxes you did not want to open from your past.
AW: I did not have a choice. I made a commitment that night in Israel, that no matter how painful it was, I was not going to stay the same. There’s a saying, “Many of us don’t change until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of the change.” My life was so painful where I was, that I knew change had to be better. I had to stop the insanity of the cycle of thinking that I could make my marriage better, and I can fix it all. I had to realize I couldn’t do it. The only person I can change is me. And I needed a lot of changing.
SCH: How did your husband rescue you from your past and become your “savior”? What pressure did that put upon him?
AW: I did not have a healthy relationship with my dad. I was afraid of him because I saw how he treated my mom and my brothers. I so desperately needed a positive male figure in my life. I was attracted to Mike because he was charismatic, good-looking, and the life of the party. He was a senior when I was a freshman in high school. When he showed an interest in me, it made me feel good. I could hide behind his personality and not really show anyone who I really was, and what was going on in my home.
He was my happiness and my security blanket. He was my everything. And no one should be in that position and have that pressure.
SCH: You say in your book, “Sometimes God allows pain to motivate us to change.” How did you experience this?
AW: Sometimes God whispers, and other times He has to yell to get our attention. That yelling can be in the form of us going through a painful experience. Those experiences can drive us into God’s arms, helping us to realize we must turn to Him because we don’t have control. God used my broken marriage to let me know that I need to let Him takeover. He’s got this.
SCH: Your suggestion of replacing worldly lies with Scriptural truths is wonderful. Explain how studying God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation revolutionized your thinking.
AW: I began studying and teaching God’s Word about eight years before I came to the crisis point. The more I poured truth into my life; the lies that the enemy was using like self-condemnation, insecurity, and shame were exposed. I fell in love with the Old Testament, and I began to see heroes in the Bible who were real people who made mistakes and had junk just like me. Sure they had consequences, but God lovingly brought them back. I knew that He loved me in the same way.
Studying the Bible helps us to know God on personal basis. It’s so much more than just going on Sunday or occasionally getting our dusty Bible off the shelf. God’s Word is transformational, but only at the pace and depth we are willing to expose ourselves to it.
SCH: You mention that counseling is hard work. Tell us about the most difficult assignment you and your husband did that was the most beneficial.
AW: The most difficult was the first one—uncovering all of the junk. With 25 years of marriage and seven years of dating, we had over 30 years of baggage. I needed to get all this junk out on the table for my counselor to help me with it. It also gave me an opportunity to apologize and ask for forgiveness for the things I had done. My husband was also able to do the same. It was powerful to be able to unveil the truth and ask each other’s forgiveness.
Communication is important in any relationship. There is a big difference between saying, “I’m sorry,” and “I was wrong.” Our counselor taught us to say, “I was wrong. I know this made you feel a certain way. Will you forgive me?” That heartfelt confession helped to heal some of the damage. So uncovering the past, admitting the wrong, and asking forgiveness from one another are powerful exercises.
SCH: What advice would you give to the woman who says, “My marriage is beyond being repaired?”
AW: With God all things are possible, but a marriage takes two people. It took two people to get into the marriage, and it will take two people to stay in the marriage and make it healthy. I was very blessed that my husband is also a courageous man. He was willing to do the hard work to save our marriage. So we were two people together willing to fight. And that is not always the case. I have several friends who are divorced because either the wife or husband was not willing to fight. It takes two willing to commit, and it is so worth it.
SCH: What was it like to see your father transformed at age 60?
AW: That is an amazing part of the healing process. When recording the audio for the book in my own voice, just reading My Dad’s letter to God again, brings a place of healing. Most likely, none of us escape childhood without some scars. In my case there was verbal and emotional abuse, and some physical abuse.
Things changed when my dad surrendered his life. It was an eye opener to me to eventually find out that his alcoholic father physically abused my own dad as a child. Although what he did was wrong, I saw a broken person and began to have more compassion for him.
My dad’s salvation gave me a relationship with him through the last ten years of his life that was sweet. I got to see him do prison ministry and going to church on Sunday. He was a different person, and we had a different relationship.
After her transformational journey, Ann now defines courage as, “Taking a risk and trusting God with the outcome.” Her small step of courage in taking that risk changed her life and that of her family forever. She has a burning desire to help others overcome their personal barriers. This book is also a great resource for pastors as they guide their church members towards wholeness.