Are you trusting God through the process? The ins and outs of life can take unexpected turns, but read this month’s INNER VIEW with Jodie Swee as she encourages us to grow, view failure through a different lens, and earn our place of influence with others.
Jodie Swee is a spiritual director, dating coach, and founder of Topanga Social, a dating service for imperfect Christians. Jodie has authored four Bible study series and shared her joy and authenticity with audiences for over 20 years. She lives in the South Bay of Los Angeles with her husband of 16 years and their 2 daughters.
Kathleen Cooke: What’s the one thing you’d like to share with women that God has recently taught you?
Jodie Swee: Trust the process! Growth and accomplishment don’t usually happen overnight. If you spend quality time with Jesus regularly, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and do your best with what you have, then trust that the Lord will take care of you and lead you to where you need to be.
When you trust the process, you discover an invitation to experience things differently. Failure becomes an opportunity to learn, detours become adventures, and the lack of control over external circumstances becomes a chance to surrender your internal perspective to the Lord.
I recently had a conversation with my best friend, and at that moment, I wasn’t trusting the process. Let me share with you what she told me.
She said, “Babies have to grow.” And she’s right. Our babies…our hopes, dreams, and expectations for the future… need to grow. They need to grow so that the Lord can teach us how to take care of them before they become unruly teenagers with their own ideas!
So, my dear friends, trust the process and enjoy the adventure it brings.
Kathleen: Failure today often dismantles us. How have you dealt with failures in your life?
Jodie: I hate failure. I loathe it. It makes me feel all squishy and small inside, and for many years I used to hide from it behind excuses. But not anymore. Instead of running and hiding from my failure, the Lord has taught me to turn and face it. Don’t get me wrong, I still HATE it, and it makes me feel icky inside. My initial instinct is still to run and hide, but the Lord has granted me the ability to pause before doing so (or before getting too far) and embrace my failure.I don’t embrace it for long, but rather than run from my failure, I receive it…and then bring it to the Lord and yield it. When I do that, he transforms it into something else…something beautiful and beneficial to me and/or others.
Twenty years ago, I was speaking at a young adult event in a church. I completely bombed. After I finished, someone in the crowd actually shouted, “That’s it?” I thought I would be consumed by shame. I blamed it on my lack of talent/skill and ended up quitting speaking for a decade. Until the Lord invited me to try again (which is a sweet, sweet story for another time).
Last year, I was speaking at another church event, and once again, I completely bombed. I experienced all the familiar feelings, but then I laughed (a little) and brought it to the Lord. In doing so, I discovered an opportunity to deepen my spiritual practices before and after speaking. The failure became a gift that will serve me and others for the rest of my life.
For a long time, I thought that someday I would be so wise and experienced that I wouldn’t fail anymore. Bless my naive little heart! Now, I am indeed wiser and more experienced…and I know I’ll never outgrow failure (this side of eternity). It’s not something to outgrow or run away from. It’s something to embrace, even with its uncomfortable feelings, and surrender so we can experience more of God’s transformative love in our lives.
Kathleen: You have a deep passion to help others with growing strong, meaningful relationships. What have you learned about developing relationships that last and can be trusted?
Jodie: I have a deep and fierce love for people, and I pastor many. It is my purpose and passion. However, personally, I tend to be somewhat of a loner. Surprisingly, my inner circle is quite small, not by choice but by some intentional design, I believe. Throughout my adult life, I have consistently sought out a steady mentor, but I have never had one. Nevertheless, I have been fortunate to receive bits of wisdom from older friends who have come and gone throughout my journey.
I have ADHD, and I’m not awesome at keeping up with people who live far away. (Out of sight, out of mind is LEGIT for us neurodivergent homies.) I didn’t meet my best friend until I was 42. She was leading worship; I was giving the message…and we bonded for life over the realization that we both experienced the love of Jesus through the TV series Outlander. (That’s weird, I know…but that’s why she’s my bestie.)
My relational experience over the years has taught me to enjoy and delight in what I have, grieve and release what has been lost as a natural part of life, and always be on the lookout for my next kindred spirit to pop up in an unexpected place.
Kathleen: What’s the one thing you’ve learned about how we can influence others?
Jodie: Honestly? I’ve learned that influence can be a sneaky and destructive beast, and it is important for us to be mindful of how we wield it and the individuals we permit to influence us.
Influence should not be won; it should be earned.
I believe that it is earned by faithfully pursuing our calling with our whole lives (public and private), being honest and saying “I don’t have an answer to that” when we don’t, and being intentional about sitting under the authority and influence of God. Any influence we have not supported by a firm foundation in Jesus is just an invitation for that sneaky Satan to twist and misuse. Influence shouldn’t puff us up or make us strong; it should keep us humble and desperately in need of the Lord’s guidance.
Connect with Jodie:
Book a free intro session at: JodieSwee.com
Instagram: @jodieswee and @topangasocial
Do you hold onto offense easily? How do you navigate relationships when it seems like the brokenness in others (or yourself) continues to get in the way? Dr. Donna Marie Hunter addresses this important topic that we all face. Find out how you can set healthy boundaries, navigating your way to healthier relationships with others and deeper intimacy with God.
Dr. Donna Marie Hunter is an engaging TV show host on her show, Grace & Space, arousing honest conversations that encourages viewers to continue dreaming by building healthy habits and genuine relationships. She has co-authored two #1 International Best-selling books, Women Who Rise and Women Who Empower. Dr. Donna received her BS degree at Pepperdine University and her Master’s in Educational Leadership; she has a Counseling Credential and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University.
She is an intuitive coach for personal and professional growth, a knowledgeable consultant in education and leadership, and an inspiring champion for equity, access, and inclusion for individuals with disabilities. With over twenty years of awarded leadership as a counselor and administrator, Donna is a well-respected expert in public education. Her mission is to educate, enlighten and empower individuals with knowledge that transforms thinking and leads to actionable steps toward positive change.
Kathleen Cooke: One of the biggest challenges today is having meaningful deep relationships with those with differing world views without offending each other. What has God taught you recently about standing for what you believe and yet being “gentle as doves?”
Dr. Donna Marie Hunter: Being unoffended is one of the most freeing dispositions to hold. My ministry, Grace and Space, has been my focal point and banner even before hosting a Television Show. I intentionally focus on forgiveness or grace, which lowers the tendency toward being easily offended and judgmental. Giving space allows for time and distance and to gain perspective, enabling us to see our predispositions and biases more clearly toward people, places, and things. God continues to teach me lessons on being unoffended, which produces the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” Hebrews 12:11 invites. Growing closer to God and letting people off the hook has helped me love my brother and sister as myself. It allows me to esteem the individual while recognizing the imperfection of our humanity; it has freed my soul. When we rise above being offended, it elevates our ability to impact and influence others positively. We become light in the shadows when darkness appears. We take on a righteousness that is not of our own and are able to suspend our ranking and judgment of someone else’s motives, intentions, and actions.
Kathleen: How can we choose right relationships? What’s the one thing we should consider in choosing a meaningful relationship?
Dr. Donna: Relationships are God’s chosen method to heal. We are broken in relationships, and we are healed in relationships. Isolation is usually an invitation to offense, creating barriers. Barring times of consecration when God is setting us apart for intentional growth and ministry, we need one another for our health and healing. When choosing to enter a relationship with someone, it’s imperative to hold the mirror up to ourselves and acknowledge our imperfections. Then, we’re more open to connecting with flawed individuals we choose to be in a relationship with. Appreciating the uniqueness of an individual while simultaneously offering grace and holding true to your boundaries (giving space) is the sweet spot of loving thy neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39). I’m not sure it’s possible to be in a healthy relationship unless we honor the Spirit of God within ourselves. God’s love flows through us first and then to others, touching us first and extending out.
Kathleen: Relationships are also about drawing boundaries. How can we decide where we need to draw them?
Dr. Donna: Boundaries are the language of love. I love you, and I love me; thus, I want the best for both of us. Understanding my limits and limitations allows me to fully love and express unbridled care for another. Boundary setting starts from a place of honesty and authenticity within, recognizing our brokenness and need for a holy God heal and save our souls. Our propensity toward sin, selfishness, and neediness has the potential to invite extremes and may cloud our ability to communicate authentically and avoid unhealthy situations and people. It is both loving and honest to say, “thank you, however, that does not work for me right now.” We offer grace and space by communicating our portion of the wrongdoing, taking responsibility for the mishap, asking for forgiveness, communicating an ending, and giving space or time for God to heal.
Kathleen: Our influence impacts our relationships, and relationships impact our influence. They work in tandem. What have you learned about how we can influence others?
Dr. Donna: Influence, both intentional and unintentional, is a weighty gift. Hence, my goal is to be intentional in loving and purpose-filled in my impact in the communities where I serve and inspirational in sharing my faith and the message of hope that fuels my passion. Influence is the telltale seeds we’ve sown over our lifespan, the fruit that remains after we have passed by, passed through, and passed on. It bears witness to the gravity of our impact. The legacy we desire to leave in this world is a direct result of our influence and interactions with family, friends, and foes. My favorite hashtag is #MyHopesAreUp. These words are indicative of a life, legacy, and influence I desire to intentionally leave upon the earth.
Connect with Dr. Donna:
Grace & Space Season 1: https://rvntelevision.com/tv-show/grace-space/
Facebook & YouTube: @drdonnamariehunter
Heidi Rasmussen is the co-founder and COO of Freshbenies – a fresh approach to benefits. She is a communicator, strategic planner, customer service advocate, builder, mentor, defender and coffee addict. Mostly, she says she’s a “gettin’ stuff done and make it happen” gal. She worked for over 27 years in the retail industry having started at JCPenney where she worked her way up the ladder to the Divisional VP at Corporate and led the largest brand launch in JCPenney history.
Seeing the need to make company benefits used wisely, she launched Freshbenies to give employers and employees practical tools to control their dime, time and peace of mind. Freshbenies has been named to the INC. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in America for the past four years and the top 100 companies for two years in a row in Dallas, Texas, as well as receiving two Health Value Awards for their innovation and for providing value-based healthcare. She is a passionate believer that people matter and is an advocate for making life simplified so that they can succeed in all God’s called them to be and do. She serves on the board for, 4WordWomen, where she mentors and encourages women in the corporate business space to live out their faith to the fullest.
Kathleen Cooke – Heidi, I love that you call yourself a communicator. We live in a polarized culture today in which just chatting with someone can be challenging. What has God taught you about how to communicate effectively?
Heidi Rasmussen – So far, 2021 has been another crazy year! With all the racial injustice and political discord, the Lord is showing me how to live out His command to “love one another as I have loved you.” The Holy Spirit is working in me to change my thinking which is changing my actions. Specifically, when I’m speaking about someone on the “other side of the aisle,” I no longer use certain words or phrases (like “What an idiot!”) in casual conversation. He reminds me that He loves that person just as much as He loves me, no matter what their background and, He wants to love that person through me. It’s the main reason I’m on this earth – to love Him, love His people and bring glory to Him.
Kathleen – I have found that having great conversation starts with a relationship foundation. Talk to us about why relationship is at the heart of candid conversations and how it affects good leadership.
Heidi – To build strong relationships, I’ve had to learn to have candid conversations. At the core, candid conversations are about love. If we love someone, we’ll have a hard, truthful conversation because it’s a lot easier to avoid those kinds of talks! When I was a young manager, I was very capable and would just come behind those who weren’t doing their job and fix everything. As I grew in my career, I didn’t have the time to do that, so I had to get good at setting clear expectations and having tough conversations when expectations weren’t met. It is harder and takes more courage to tell someone they aren’t meeting expectations and need to improve their performance. As soon as I realized this and started to master the principles around conflict, I experienced more peace in my life.
Kathleen – Business decisions are often places of uncertainty and risk. What has God taught you about how to trust Him and about taking a posture of obedience in challenging situations?
Heidi – You know that saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle?” It’s nowhere in the Bible and it’s not true. How am I, in my own strength, supposed to love another person as Jesus loves me? That is impossible. In Matthew 19, Jesus says, “…with God all things are possible.” I spent many years working hard for God and asking, What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)? Then, I learned the necessity of working with God and asking, What Will Jesus Do” through me? He’s in me and His Spirit is working through me all day every day. I just need to be available and let Him use me to do His work. I ask Him to help and guide me every step of the way. That includes when I don’t feel Him nearby. I often pray, “Lord, please help me to feel Your presence.” When I’m in a bad mood, I pray, “Lord, please lift me from this funk.” And, when I’m mad at Him, I pray, “Lord, please change me.” I can ask Him anything and be confident that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
Kathleen – How do you view influence in a culture where many strive endlessly today to be influencers?
Heidi – At the risk of sounding like a broken record (if you remember what one of those is), I’ve learned that influence is about loving people and letting Christ work through me. People are influenced positively by other people they love or like on some level. I’ve learned that if I want to influence the world, I have to be salt and light to others and loving (and lovable) in all circumstances. To do that, I have to ask Christ to do it through me and be available to let him shine through me to others.
Find out more about Freshbenies here or connect with Heidi on LinkedIn here.