Agency client Christa Black Gifford is our guest interview on the blog today. Christa is a dynamic worldwide speaker, author, and bestselling songwriter. She was the keynote for Women of Faith’s Revolve Tour as well as a popular blogger and a writer for The Huffington Post. Her life-goal is to provide resources for those broken by the pain of life, leading them into wholeness of heart and intimacy with Jesus. She’s married to the love of her life, Lucas Gifford. They live in Nashville, TN with their son, Moses Grae Lionheart, a daughter in heaven, Luca Gold, and their newest addition, daughter, Birdie James.
Christa, your second book, Heart Made Whole released today and I know it’s been quite a transforming journey that has led to this day. A journey you’ve been excited to share with others so they too can experience heart wholeness. Tell us a little about why you wanted to write Heart Made Whole.
I don’t really write books; I kind of drop bombs. I’ve learned the hard way over the years never to let something come out of me that I’m not fully living, so this book begged to be written, pouring out from an overflowing heart that couldn’t stay quiet any longer.
When my daughter Goldie died on March 5, 2014, I treated my shattered heart very differently than I had in the past when tragedy would crash into my world. I started treating my bleeding heart like it had been in a bomb blast--because it had. And as I learned to care and tend to my heart with kindness, patience, grace and understanding, the strangest thing happened.
I found God smack dab in the place I had avoided my entire life--He was living in the middle of my broken heart, waiting to nurse me back to life through connection, acceptance, grace, and love.
In the book you write, “If our hearts are not anchored to the goodness of God when tragedy strikes, we lower our theology to match our pain.” Can you walk us through what that means?
For years, horrible things would happen (or persist) in my life, but because I couldn’t find breakthrough, healing, or release, I would alter my theology to match my circumstance.
Surely, God doesn’t want to heal me of this eating disorder or sexual addiction because I’ve cried out to Him a million times and He hasn’t zapped me into wholeness.
Surely God wants me to stay single because He hasn’t brought my husband.
Surely it’s God’s will that I can’t find financial breakthrough because it keeps happening.
Surely God wanted to give me a ministry to the sexually assaulted since He allowed my sexual abuse and rape.
Instead of looking at God’s perfect theology with skin on--the person of Jesus Christ--I would alter my perception of God and His will dependent on my life in a fallen world, instead of continuing to press in and find out why my life wasn’t lining up with His word.
Most times when we go through trials in a wounding world, we put God on trial. But the more I built my inner case of offense of God, the more I pushed Him away--separating parts of my heart from the solution. It becomes very difficult to experience the love and healing of God when deep down you’re stiff-arming Him away in distrust.
I love the story in Matthew 17:14 of the demon possessed boy. When the disciples couldn’t get the demon out of him, they didn’t lower their theology to form belief systems around how God wants to heal some and not others. They realized there was a disconnect to the will of God and what was happening in the natural, so they brought the boy to Jesus and he was instantly healed.
When my daughter died, I refused to create cheap theology around my experience with lack and loss, especially since I am convinced that if my Savior had been standing in front of me in the flesh, her disease would have been instantly healed (as evidenced in scripture; John 10:8-10).
When God is discovered to be the good guy, and the adversary is seen as the bad guy, it becomes very easy to move toward intimacy with God--especially when all hell breaks loose in your life. You realize your dependency on heaven’s perspective is critical to surviving hell in a fallen world.
One of the core messages of the book is that pain is not a bad thing. How did you ultimately come to an understanding that pain is something to experience, rather than resist? And how did you invite God into your pain?
Our Western Christian culture is in total denial about internal pain, and as a result, the church has become a bleeding mess of wounded people, hiding their secret shame to preserve their Christian reputations and ministry platforms. We beat ourselves black and blue with scriptures, spouting out how we should have deeper faith, acting as though we should never fear, or how we should put away our tears because God will bring something good out of the current tragedy.
But why would Jesus have given us a Comforter if He never intended us to mourn?
Denial about my childhood sexual abuse wounds left me as a Christian adult working overtime to hide them. But pain never goes away on its own with time, neglect, or shame. Pain must be felt, embraced, and brought into relationship with Perfect Love.
When I stopped denying the mess of my heart--that it was broken in parts, naturally fearful, insecure, diseased with shame and condemnation--that was the point of ultimate breakthrough. I stopped running from the mess, and in turn, realized that the mess was the ENTIRE reason God had chosen to make my heart HIS home.
He wasn’t overwhelmed with my heart like I was. He wasn’t ashamed or disappointed in it. He was patiently waiting, with oceans of grace and love, to start the process of inner restoration and transformation as I learned to stay connected to Him.
Because you started this road to wholeness a few years ago, you have experienced the benefits of what it’s like to begin living with a whole heart. What words of encouragement can you give readers who are facing what can look like a painful road as they forge ahead?
Inner healing isn’t easy, and most of us stay away from it because we’re afraid of what we’re going to find inside. But living every breath to ignore, hide, or deny the reality of your old broken heart is FAR more exhausting than surrendering your inner land to perfect love.
And I know this from decades of experience.
When you realize that God made YOU the landlord of your heart, and that YOU choose what stays inside or what has to go, you instantly remove your "victim role" and become the most powerful person in your world. Every day, I have the power and choice to either default to the Love who lives inside, or choose to guard my pain and fear, cutting myself off from the healing I desperately desire and deserve. When I finally realized that I hold the keys to my heart, I also realized that I was far more in charge of my life and its outcome than I once believed.
You see, old Christa believed she was a victim of God and life--living every day in fear of what was lurking in the unknown future. But once I took the keys to my heart and said NO MORE, I choose whether or not bitterness, self-hatred, self-loathing, disgust, fear, and pain get to stay inside, or I choose whether or not to roll into the pain and connect with God who lives inside … that was the moment my life changed. I am a co-creator with God, and He isn’t at all insecure when I choose to stand up and be like Him.
My job each day is very different than it used to be.
My job in each moment is to make sure I choose to keep my heart consciously connected to the Trinity who lives inside, defaulting to their wisdom, expertise, and ways. Denying love each day becomes my only problem, and embracing it is my only answer.
When you learn to embrace love in every moment--even in the painful moments--I promise you, you’ve discovered the secret of life.
You’ve discovered how to live from a Heart Made Whole.
Order your copy here today!