Audio Interview: Trillia Newbell

May 18, 2016

We caught up with Trillia Newbell via Skype to talk about her new audiobook Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves. The interview was recorded and be played below. Enjoy!

 

Announcer:
Welcome! You’re listening to an exclusive author interview brought to you by christianaudio.com.

Vicki Morgan Intro:
Hello and welcome to the conversation! I’m Victoria Morgan interviewing for Christian Audio, and today we’re all in for some real encouragement. Author and public speaker Trillia Newbell is speaking with us today on Skype about a subject that has tortured me personally on a daily basis for years. It’s fear, a feeling that is actually a sin and yet we all struggle with it. Some of us don’t even realize we’re in its grasp. And in the terrifying process of breaking free from its grasp, Trillia has written an important new book, Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves. Trillia’s writings have been published in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Desiring God, True Woman, Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and more.

She speaks at numerous conferences, churches, women’s retreats, colleges, seminaries, just so many things to encourage so many women. She is currently the Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Trillia was the lead editor of Karis, the women’s channel for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. And in November 2011, she launched a Christian women’s blog style e-zine, called Women of God Magazine, where she was the managing editor. Her greatest love besides God, however, is her family. She is married to her best friend and love of her life, Thern.

So, welcome Trillia! We are excited to hear about your new audiobook and what you have to tell us about the subject of fear.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Thank you. I’m excited to chat and be here.

Vicki Morgan Question:
Well, Trillia, you have a beautiful family and I’ve seen them online. I know you cherish them. You have a God-given intelligence, and God certainly uses you to inspire men and women worldwide. But you also have a lot to lose. We all feel like we have a lot to lose. I don’t want to start this interview on a negative note, but all of us have been afraid, one way or another, to lose what God has so generously lavished on us, especially those with a precious family. So, how would you encourage the woman who worries as she sends her family out to face the world each day?

Trillia Newbell Response:
If I could encourage anyone, it would be that one … God relates to our suffering, to our pain. I’m thankful for Jesus, who was tempted in every way but without sin, so that’s the first thing that I’m just grateful for. But that as I understand and get to know God more through His word and through prayer, God is good. He’s holy. He’s sovereign. And He isn’t just sovereign but He’s good. He isn’t just ruling, but He’s my father. And so I can trust Him with my future. That is something that I’ve had to learn as I fought fear and as I’ve experienced my own loss and looking towards the future. I can’t control what will happen to my kids, but God has them. He has them in His hands. The same thing with my husband and the rest of my future, God is in control and He is good God.

Vicki Morgan Question:
Well, Trillia, thank you for that. We need to not only hear it and know it in our minds, through the Book of Job and so forth, but we also need to really get that in our hearts.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Absolutely.

Vicki Morgan Question:
Yeah, and it’s just a process, isn’t it?

Trillia Newbell Response:
It is a process. And I’m thankful for these promises like, “God will finish the good work He began in you and in me”. And so it’s a process. And when I wrote Fair and Faith, one of the things that I said was, “I’m not someone who has a right, but someone who has learned to fight for faith.” So I know my whole life, I’ll continue this fight, but God is continuing to change me and to mold me and to make me more into the image of His Son and to help equip me for this good work and the fight of faith. And so I’m thankful for the promises that we see that God’s going to finish the good work He began in me.

Vicki Morgan Question:
That’s a good point. On the other side of the coin, there are some who are afraid to admit that they’re afraid. Now this treads dangerously into the belief that if we just think positive thoughts, nothing bad will happen to us. Or that if we just speak good things, that good things will happen. I know the Bible does say focus on these things – what is true, what is lovely, what is pure.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Right.

Vicki Morgan Question:
And there are those that also are afraid to think anything bad. And the Bible tells us to focus on good things. But would you explain to us that very important distinction between wanting only good things to happen, and being willing to accept what God has for us without fear?

Trillia Newbell Response:
Absolutely. Well, first of all, God never promises that the Christian life would be without trials. As a matter of fact, it’s just the opposite. He knows that trials are coming. Even if it’s the death of ourselves, I mean, if we have an easy, easy life, we still will have this sting of death. There’s something that’s going to happen that is not ideal or what we desire, or what we want. And so, one of the ways to fight this is one … to know that the Bible says, “If we confess our sin, He’s faithful and just to forgive us.” So if we’re fearful, we don’t have to pretend like we’re not fearful. You can just say it to the Lord and He, who is loving, wants us to. He says, “Come and approach My throne of grace in your time of need.”

I love the Psalms. David isn’t pretending like he has it together because we know he doesn’t. He is crying out to his Heavenly Father and we are invited to do the same thing, which I’m thankful for. So we don’t need to pretend or we don’t need to just try to think these good, happy thoughts. Yes, we want to have a true view of the reality of our state and we definitely want to think good thoughts and think true thoughts, but there is nothing in the Scriptures that says we cannot weep, we cannot mourn. Actually, it’s so the opposite. And we are invited to do so.

So, for someone who is maybe afraid of admitting they’re fearful, I would just encourage you that the Lord says “Come to me.” And He’s going to give our hearts rest. He wants us to be open and honest. He invites us to confess sin and not receive condemnation, but receive grace and mercy, and it’s amazing. And so, yeah, for the woman or the man who’s struggling in that way, go to Jesus. He is inviting us too.

Vicki Morgan Question:
So I’m going to admit it. I struggle with fear. If I feel a bump in the road, my heart skips a beat.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Sure.

Vicki Morgan Question:
And I start worrying about whether I have a flat tire. I worry about my husband’s death.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Yeah, yeah.

Vicki Morgan Question:
I worry about what people think of me. I really am a mess, but I know I’m not the only one.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
No.

Vicki Morgan Question:
So, what happens inside of us when we fear the future – any future? And where do you think or you probably know because you’ve done the research, where does that fear of tragedy come from?

Trillia Newbell Response:
I have this funny story I tell often. First of all, I’m right there with you. When my husband first started to travel, he would walk out the door and within two minutes I’ve got his eulogy down, I was mourning his death. He was alive! He was just going on a trip. But something in mind just would start worrying. And the Scriptures talk so much about our anxiety and worry and not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough trouble of its own.

Our problem, I think, it’s rooted in unbelief. We may know God, but at moments when we’re fearful, especially at the future or tragedy, we forget. We forget God, we forget who He is. And so, we aren’t believing that God can handle it. We want control. I want to be sovereign. I want to rule. Because in my head, I think I know what’s best for me and I’m going to make sure it happens.

And so I have to work to trust God and trust that He really is all that He says He is in Scripture and that He’s going to work all things together for the good of those who love Him. So I have to believe that. And when I don’t believe it, when I don’t believe that God really is who He says He is, that’s when I err and fall into these traps of fear and, yeah, forgetfulness of who God is and thinking at the future really grimly because I want to have control.

Vicki Morgan Question:
And in your new book, I mean, it’s just such a wonderful book and audiobook, Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves, which is what we’re talking about today, you give us a lot of solutions and a lot of steps that we can take. But let’s just cut it out. How do we expose that root of fear for what it is, and cut it out of our lives for good? What’s that first step that we need to take?

Trillia Newbell Response:
Well, I think the first step is recognizing that you’re fearful. I think so often like you asked a few seconds ago, we don’t want to admit it. So I think being okay with saying “God, I am fearful” and then confessing that sin. I think getting in the word of God, learning who God is so that we can fight it with truth. It’s like when the Scriptures say, “You put on and put off.” In order for us to put off fear we must put on trust. And we can’t trust someone we don’t know. So we need to get in our word and learn, “Okay, who’s this God that we can trust?” And then, I think we ask God for faith.

Faith is a gift. It’s not derived from us, which is good news, [laughs] because we won’t have the strength to make ourselves new. We won’t have the strength to renew our own minds, but God can and He does. He transforms our hearts. He transforms our minds. So we can ask Him, “God, would you help me? Help my unbelief. Lord, help me to believe you … to trust You.”
So I think in order for us to root it out, we have to confess it, be okay with recognizing it, and replace it with trust through reading God’s word and getting to know who He is, and then asking God for the gift of faith.

Vicki Morgan Question:
And He shoulders our burden. He takes it from us. So you’re really talking about freedom. I used to think that my worries and the precautions that I was taking to avoid bad things were actually keeping me safe! So if I save enough money, I’ll never have to worry.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Right.

Vicki Morgan Question:
If I take side streets, I’ll never get in an accident. If I act super nice to everyone, everyone will like me and I’ll avoid rejection.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Right.

Vicki Morgan Question:
If I exercise, which is a big one for me, then I’ll never get sick. So, what’s the difference between focusing on staying safe, or just being precautious, and being free from worry? Are we allowed to have both?

Trillia Newbell Response:
I’m going to say yes. Here’s the thing: there is no problem with exercising to try to stay healthy. There’s no problem with being kind. But it’s our motivation. So, you want to be kind not so that everyone will like you, but so that you can love your neighbor as yourself because that’s a command in Scripture and you want to make Christ look good. We want to be healthy, and it’s okay to be healthy because we want to feel good. But it’s better to be healthy because we want to love others through service and be strong for the ministry.

But ultimately, what we need to ask ourselves is, are we saving money, are we doing all these things because our hope is in these things? So, my hope is in money, so I’m going to save money. My hope is in exercise, so I’m going to exercise so I can stay healthy and prolong life. My hope is in people, so I’m going to be really nice. Instead of … my hope is in Jesus. And that’s where we err. So we can do these things, but we need to ask God, okay, whether we eat, drink, whatever we do, we need to do it to the glory of God and God help me to place my hope in you and not hope in all these other things that ultimately will not bring peace or freedom. It brings more change, right?

If we are hoping in our money and then we lose our money, then we are completely on our face flat, depressed and despondent and struggling. If we hope in people and someone does rejects you, same response. So, if we hope in our health and we don’t think oh, our future is actually this beautiful, resurrected body, then when we get sick it’s going to be really difficult if our hope isn’t in Jesus. So I think we have the freedom and joy to pursue these things, but we also have the freedom and joy to pursue them with our eyes set on eternity and our hope in Jesus Christ.

Vicki Morgan Question:
Well, you brought up a good point, you said when these things happen and the Bible says when we encounter bad times, when we encounter suffering, we’re actually called to suffer with Jesus in a certain respect. Now, for those of us who have had tragedies happen, those of us who have suffered a rape, or an accident, a family illness, whatever the unthinkable is, we’ve been wounded, and we’re still paralyzed by fear.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Yes.

Vicki Morgan Question:
Now, I don’t like to use the word wounded, but occasionally it’s accurate. In this case, it’s accurate. So, talk to the person who is still wounded, still fearful from having gone through a tragedy.

Trillia Newbell Response:
Well, I would encourage someone who has gone through a tragedy and is still really suffering from it … they’re not just wounded, but this is suffering. I love and I’m thankful for Jesus and I’ve mentioned this before, but that when He was tempted in every way but without sin, He was a Man of sorrows. He was rejected. Even in the garden, He cried out to the Lord, “If it be Your will, take this cup from Me.” And then on the cross, He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” We have a Savior who relates to our sorrows. And He doesn’t say to us, “Hurry up, hurry up, get over it.” He says, “I relate to your sorrows.” And He allows for mourning, so we can mourn. We can ask questions. We don’t have to pretend to understand everything. We don’t. We don’t. And we may not really, fully, until that day when we see Him face-to-face.

So I would just encourage the person who’s struggling that Jesus, He relates and He is weeping with you. And you can ask God the really hard questions and trust that He is your Father and He does love you, and He is walking with you through this. I would also encourage someone to speak to other people to pull people in and to not be sorrowful alone. It can be a temptation and you have the church for a reason, so we can encourage one another and build one another up. And we need the body. We need a community. So I would encourage that person to seek out others to really get help.

Finally, I would just say I am so thankful for some of the old hymn writers and theologians. They didn’t write from a place of constant joy. William Cowper, for example, who wrote the hymn, God Moves in a Mysterious Way, he was depressed. He actually even tried to commit suicide. He was suicidal and just really struggled. And he wrote this beautiful, beautiful hymn. And if you are listening and you have a chance to look it up, read the whole thing. But one of the things that he just talks about is God moves in a mysterious way. His wonders, we don’t understand. He plants His footsteps in the stream and rides upon the storm. So He knows we will scan His work in vain and in error, but one day He will make it plain. And one day we will see. But right now we can trust His sweet providence that we don’t understand, and it can be hard.

Vicki Morgan Question:
Now, let’s go to the other side of life here.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Okay.

Vicki Morgan Question:
In your book and audiobook, Fear and Faith, you talk about how our obsession with efficiency and time management can actually contribute to our fear. I’m talking about the person who really hasn’t had anything terrible happen to them.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Yeah.

Vicki Morgan Question:
They’re very involved in ministry or they’re involved with their children’s lives. They work. They run around like a chicken with their head cut off. I remember personally I had a very demanding position in ministry, and out of the blue, I developed panic attacks. I thought I was a productive human being, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, there’s panic attacks. I don’t have them anymore, but I know many men and women who struggle with them. Do you think there’s a correlation between fear and all this running around and people-pleasing that we do?

Trillia Newbell Response:
Absolutely! [laughs] You know, I looked up failure and it said something like, “Failure is not an option.” And there are books and books and books about that topic. Ten Steps to Being the Better You and how we can’t fail! So we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to please everyone into trying to do as much as we humanly possibly can. And the truth is only God doesn’t need rest. The rest of us, must. We must rest. We must stop. We must say no. But it’s so hard and I’m speaking as someone who has struggled with this many times and goes back and forth between going, going, going, and stopping.

I think we what we just need to know is that failure is okay. Failure is an option. And we want to measure up to all these various standards and we don’t want to not measure up. And if we can understand busyness does not equate to effectiveness; it’s just busyness, then we can stop and we can ask God, “Okay, how can we please you in this and not fear failure, not fear not measuring up, and be okay with being limited, being human?” Because I think that’s my problem. I want to be superwoman, superhuman, when in reality, I’m just human-human. [laughs] And so, I have to fight that temptation to be something I’m not which ultimately is I need to fight the temptation to be God. So, yeah, we need to learn to rest and trust the Lord and be okay with knowing that Jesus is our measure and He measures up for us, and that’s good news.

Vicki Morgan Question:
He’s the only perfect one! [laughs]

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Right.

Vicki Morgan Question:
Now, for the upside, let’s end with this, your book and audiobook Fear and Faith, it offers so much hope. But this, in particular, let’s end with what you have to say about the saying “God is love.”

Trillia Newbell Response:
Yes! Oh goodness! Everything that God does is wrapped up in His love for us. And so, gosh, we can be so encouraged to know that every good and perfect thing, everything that He has given us is for our good and His glory, and He loves us. And He loves us not with a shakable love, or He’s not looking at us and thinking, “Well, I don’t know.” No, He loves us with this radical, rejoicing over us, pouring out His grace upon us … love. It is amazing love. And He displays it mostly in the cross … that Jesus would die on the cross bearing the wrath that we deserve. Yeah! And it is this awesome, amazing love!

And then He looks at us and He sees us as covered with Christ’s righteousness, which is amazing. If we placed our faith and trust in Him, that’s what He gives us. And He says it in His word. But we can rejoice in knowing that we are in the hands of a mighty, awesome and loving Father.”

Vicki Morgan Question:
Well, Trillia, we do thank God for you and your ministry. Your publicist said that you have a wonderful smile and I can hear that coming through. [laughs] We all need to keep our eyes fixed on Christ. And you help thousands do that through your blog, your articles and so forth. Where can we find you online?

Trillia Newbell Response:
You can find me on my website, which is my name, trillianewbell.com, and it’s T-R-I-L-L-I-A, N-E-W-B-E-L-L dot com.

Vicki Morgan Question:
Great. Well, thank you again, Trillia, for joining us. We are so pleased to have published this audiobook so that more and more of us can break free from fear and from all its lies. It’s like a breath of fresh air.

Trillia Newbell Comment:
Mmmm. Thank you.

Vicki Morgan Question:
Find out more about Trillia Newbell’s audiobook Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves at christianaudio.com. Also, if you’d like to receive our free audiobook of the month, please do join our mailing list. I’m Victoria Morgan. Thanks for listening!

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