Countdown to Freedom – Interview with author, Brenna Stull

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Brenna, in the realm of performance issues, in which area do you struggle the most: perfectionism, people pleasing, or both?

I have struggled with both in the past.

Where do those issues play out most in your life: family, friendships, career, or in your relationship with God?

Had the Lord not gotten a handle on my perfectionism issues, I know it would have taken a toll on my children. Since the Lord has helped me recognize and accept my strengths and weaknesses, I feel better equipped to do the same with my family members. God created each of my five children different, and I respect and appreciate each one’s distinctiveness. By taking the time to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, I can best cheer them on to reach their fullest potential with joy.

How did your performance issues impact your family? (Husband, children, extended family)

Knowing that I tended to place so much emphasis as a child on my performance (even with a healthy home life), I make an effort to express my children’s inherent value and my unconditional love for them. As I pray over my kids when I tuck them into bed each night (started that when they were little, and I’m still praying over the 17-year-old each night), I use words like, “she is so precious” and other words that ascribe value and worth in their personhood and not just performance. Don’t get me wrong – we still pray about things on which they need to work, or thank God for successes, but I try to emphasize their value in who they are (period.)

Where do you think your performance issues started?

As I child I always wanted to do my best, but to an extreme. Much of it was for the approval of my teachers. I think it all came to a head for me my junior year in high school. My parents fostered a healthy home life and loving and accepting relationship. But my driven personality took over and I wanted to perfect every area of my life: my academics, fitness, ability to play the clarinet, leading in school organizations, even my spiritual life. After losing sleep and skipping meals in an effort to squeeze everything into a day that I felt needed to happen to meet my goals, I came close to an emotional breakdown. I was doing everything in my power to meet others’ expectations, but I was still disappointing people. After turning it over to the Lord in prayer, I vowed to focus on only pleasing Him. I got out of everything I could as fast as I could (my Mom assured me, “It may be hard for you to believe, Brenna, but Student Council will go on without you!”). After that I made a conscious effort to only pour my time and energies into the things for which I felt called to do. The freedom that brought immediately and still brings is a joyful thing!

In the realm of expectations, how have you learned the art of disappointing people?

I think it’s important to define what expectations are realistic, and work toward goals. But also it is important to accept that even if I’m doing the best I can, sometimes I will not meet even those. I’m married to a man who is a man of high expectations for himself and everyone around him. There have been times in our marriage when I’ve had to remind him that my junior year I accepted the fact that I was not perfect…and I need him to accept that fact, too.

What is one verse you feel every performer could benefit from internalizing?

Psalm 62:5 – “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”

As I rest my soul in God alone, he is perfectly faithful to meet my deep need for love, significance and security. No one or nothing else can do that.

Tell us a little bit about the book you are giving away?

Coach Mom: 7 Strategies for Organizing Your Family into an All-Star Team helps moms learn to be effective and intentional in creating an organized and happy home where their children and their marriage is nurtured. Teamwork built on Christ as the foundation is the key.

Leave a comment and your name will be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of Brenna’s book! We’ll draw a name tomorrow ,so don’t delay!

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