We recently spoke to Mo Isom to talk about her new audiobook Wreck My Life, written and read by Mo. The interview was recorded and can be played below. Enjoy!
ANNOUNCER: Welcome! You’re listening to an exclusive author interview brought to you by christianaudio.com.
VICKI MORGAN: Hello and welcome to the conversation! I’m Victoria Morgan interviewing for Christian Audio and we’re excited to have author, speaker and blogger Mo Isom Aiken sharing with us today about her new audiobook, Wreck My Life. And she comes today via Skype. Mo is an internationally famous, All-American soccer star and football player. She was the first female to try out for an SEC men’s football team, and currently holds the LSU all-time goalkeeper record as well as an SEC all-time shutout record. She trained with the US Women’s National program, and appeared on ESPN Sports Center Top-10 Plays, in Sports Illustrated, CBS, The 700 Club, and countless other platforms.
Everything seemed to be going well for this sports superstar, until God wrecked her life in ways few of us would ever want to imagine. The words “fiery trials” don’t even begin to describe the horrific ordeals, one right after the other, that Mo endured. She lived through what most of us cringe to think about. And for Mo, brokenness was just the beginning of her journey.
Her new audiobook, Wreck My Life, is a personal invitation to all of us, to take that journey from broken to bold and surrender our lives to the King who was wrecked on our behalf.
Fast-forward now, Mo is changing lives with her transformational speeches, challenging her audiences to trust God with an intensity born of pain. An intensity that demands courage and prayerful action from those who have an ear to hear. And that is her goal for you as well … to listen to her new audiobook, Wreck My Life, and to be changed by it. Mo is married to her best friend Jeremiah, and they have a beautiful daughter named Auden.
Mo, I’m going to let you do most of the talking now. Thank you so much for joining us today.
MO ISOM AIKEN: It is my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
VICKI MORGAN: I just have to say I couldn’t even breathe as I was reading the details of your car wreck. It was beautifully written – very descriptive. And we’ll talk about that in a few minutes. But according to your audiobook, your life was a wreck long before the accident.
MO ISOM AIKEN: My life really was wrecked, it was a struggle. There was a lot of unexpected brokenness, a lot of brokenness brought on by myself. I mean, my testimony was one that was just riddled with a lot of adversity. I grew up in a wonderful middle-class family, a great home, kind of a situation that you wouldn’t think would warrant much struggle or hardship. But because of that walked into some struggle because faith-wise my walk with Jesus was very much just sort of an inherited faith, this shallow cultural Christianity, church on Sunday, showing up at the right places, saying the right thing, walking in this faith walk following in my parent’s footsteps — which isn’t bad, but it’s not an independent pursuit of Jesus.
So what happened as a result of those shallow roots was that when my identity came into question (who I was, what I was about, what my worth was) I really struggled with a lot of identity issues and in that place Satan kind of found a foothold and those identity issues evolved into control issues, and those control issues evolved into a pretty vicious eating disorder that really shaped much of my high school days … having some amazing successes and then seeing Christianity as, “Oh, I give God the glory and He rains down the blessings, that must be what this is all about.” And it moves through that misunderstanding, that incomplete picture of faith into sudden horrific tragedy and the suicide of my dad which was out of the blue, unforeseen, no warning signs and really pretty horrific.
And the book dives pretty deeply into that struggle. So the suicide of my father which then just caused me to really run from God … I was already confused about what this faith thing was, this shallow faith that I had, and ran into depression, anxiety, promiscuity — I mean, you name it. I was just struggling and broken in a lot of ways and breaking myself in response, just numb and using anything to fill a hole in my heart. My testimony [laughs] also includes this phase of my faith walk where I was continuing to proclaim good things about God because that’s what’s comfortable in our culture, especially being in the Bible Belt, but I was very much Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, struggling with a lot of darkness on the inside until God chose such a time to wreck my life and reveal Himself to me and that is where the car accident comes into the story.
And so it’s messy. It’s messy. It’s a lot of up and down and kind of a roller coaster ride. I call it a rollercoaster ride of faith — figuring out some sense of authenticity, some sense of who I was, and moving through a lot of adversity and a lot of hardship, but God ultimately finally saying, “I have plans for you, I have purpose for you, and I need to get your attention.”
VICKI MORGAN: And you called yourself desperate during this time. In your audiobook you say that, “desperate girls do desperate things when they don’t feel loved” and you’re referring here to your former habit of “hooking up with guys.” So Wreck My Life isn’t just about a fiery trial, it’s about addictions and eating disorders and lying and faking it and everything else that we try to do to control the emptiness in our lives.
MO ISOM AIKEN: Yes. To summarize it into a whole, it is a testimony of self. It was my self-image, it was my issues with myself, my body, it was focus on my struggles, how the adversity was affecting me, it was a lack of self-confidence. It was just my world revolving around me. And I think when we live in this self-absorbed, self-consumed life, we lose vision and clarity about the world, about just a healthy outlook on life on all things. And for me, that manifested itself in promiscuity trying to find my worth in men. It manifested itself in eating disorders — trying to find control and beauty. And so that’s where really I think a lot of my desperation was rooted.
VICKI MORGAN: And that brings me to my next question. You talk about the “tension of warfare” in your audiobook and that really caught my attention — because in Wreck My Life you talk about sitting in church while the enemy whispers lies during worship, during the pastor’s message, during fellowship … and I think it comes down to us being so focused on the wrong thing rather than focused on God. And I wonder how many of us either ignore or completely miss the fact that we’re caught up in this tension of warfare.
MO ISOM AIKEN: Yes. So many times (for me at least) it was always this dialogue in the back of my head of, “Don’t buy into this, think a little bit more about this.” “Well, I know the pastor says this but what if this”. And really at the root it was me trying to rationalize and guard myself from being vulnerable from having to place my faith in something that I didn’t fully understand. And you know, the enemy doesn’t always come and do horrific things, sometimes he just comes to confuse. And sometimes he disguises himself as logic, as our need for answer, as this voice inside of us that doesn’t want to let go and fully surrender to placing our faith in something that requires faith to fully believe. It was like he just wouldn’t go away. [laughs]
I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that but it’s just like he deceives and he twists and he confuses and you think you’ve moved past something and surrendered it and he comes and deceives and twists and confuses the next thing. And when we’re focused on self, when we are apprehensive to surrender, he just keeps coming back because what the Gospel calls of us is surrender of self and what Satan would call of us is protection of self, of “make sense of self.” I think when that warfare exists, and Satan’s voice is prevalent, you also feel a tension of God’s voice prevalent, and that is really where the warfare exists — Satan of our flesh pulling us in one way, of God calling us up into healing and to hope. And so it was a battle, it was a regular battle. [laughs]
VICKI MORGAN: And you were embroiled in this battle and so let’s go back to that pivotal car accident where you’re driving along and you’re talking to God and you’re railing against God and you’re still shaken, quite understandably, by your father’s suicide. But in hindsight, what exactly were you headed for? It was more than just a car wreck, wasn’t it?
MO ISOM AIKEN: It was. I think in that car headed home I was too weak to respond fully — and too prideful and too angry and too hurting. And I think had I continued to just dismiss God, to ignore the other opponent in this warfare … I think I was just headed for self-destruction. There were times where I understood why my dad did what he did, and I saw it as a viable option for myself … for my own life. That’s how exhausting this pain, this constant pain, really was.
So I was headed for a dark place. I’m grateful that that’s not what God had for me. I’m grateful that He met me on that car ride home and wrecked my life physically and wrecked my life spiritually in so many ways. I know that God knew. Scripture said the plans He had for me … not to harm me but for hope and a future, and I don’t think I believed that myself up until He really encountered me and wrecked my life and said, “You don’t have to just continue to think this is as good as life is going to get. Just numbing this pain and trying to figure things out on your own and trying to wrestle through this warfare and just stuff it down deeper and deeper and pretend that it’s not controlling your thoughts and your emotions and your days. But no … I know the plans that I have for you.”
VICKI MORGAN: And in your audiobook you bring it home … this very important point about adversity. It’s not if, but when fiery trials happen.
MO ISOM AIKEN: I love what my pastor Louie Giglio says. He says that the storms in life are inevitable. If you haven’t been in a storm, if you aren’t currently in a storm, then a storm is headed your way. It’s just the way of life. If you look at John 16:33, which is one of those key verses that really opened my eyes and a key verse of the book, Scripture says, “I’ve told you these things but in Me you may have peace. In this world you will face trouble, you will. In this world you will face trouble. But take heart, I’ve overcome the world.”
And so when I look at that Scripture I see two promises, promises of God. One is that in this world you will face adversity. It’s going to be hard. There are going to be storms. It’s not that God wants it for us. It’s not that He’s just hoping it will tear us apart. It’s just a King of all kings stating the facts and calling out the enemy’s schemes before the enemy even has time to scheme. There is your flesh. There is your own desires — you are going to face trouble.
The second promise says, “Take heart, have courage, I’ve overcome the world.” I think when we can embrace and wrap our head around the fact that adversity is inevitable, we can also wrap our hope and our strength and our faith around that second promise. There’s a King who’s already won the war and so I can trust and have hope and have courage that it’s overcome — that I can overcome it through Christ.
VICKI MORGAN: And that’s when brokenness becomes boldness, right? You said in your audiobook (and I love this quote) “Brokenness becomes boldness.”
MO ISOM AIKEN: Exactly. That’s when the brokenness and all of the hard stuff in life we can stop and we can embrace it and we can surrender that to Christ and say, “Make this bold.” I love Romans 3 through 5 … it actually calls us to rejoice in our adversity because adversity produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope. And hope in the Holy Spirit never fails. And these battles don’t get to win the war, it’s won. And so knowing that you already stand in the forgiveness, in the grace, in the favor of the King of all kings, of the Victor, who takes our brokenness and makes it bold, He can’t help but compel us into boldness and allow us to approach and handle adversity with a new perspective … with a divine hope.
VICKI MORGAN: Well, Mo, speaking of a hope and a future, let’s switch now into a new season. In one of your videos you say that you’re trying to reach your generation, and you talk about it as if it were a challenge. And then on your website one of your endorsers says that this generation lacks authenticity. Why do you think your generation is so hard to reach?
MO ISOM AIKEN: I think the primary thing is just the constant unyielding distractions of the world right now. If it’s not social media, if it’s not the internet, it’s one thing, it’s another. I mean we’re just a generation that needs constant stimulation and has very short attention spans. And so that’s our first challenge, reaching millennials, is getting them to stop to be still and to know that He is God … putting things down and slowing life down and being still.
But another challenge is that we’re also just in this time of this “fake it till you make it” culture, this “fake it till you make it” mentality of “only put your best foot forward, only put your best, most whole things forward” and “you need to do better and you need more and we need this and we need that.” And we’re just chasing this constant ideal. And we’re told to fake it till we make it, make it look good. Instagram, Twitter, social media, Facebook … I mean only put out what’s the best and what’s going to get you the most “likes”. We seem to be a generation that thinks we have to have it all together.
And so we’re going through hard things and we’re facing adversity but we’re keeping it all inside because the world doesn’t want to hear about that. It doesn’t want to see that. It doesn’t want brokenness, it wants only the best and the richest and the coolest and the newest and the most popular. And so I feel like there is this cultural pressure for millennials. We’re holding things inside and we’re wrestling with the brokenness and it’s leading us down these really challenging paths and we’re just avoiding … stuffing it deeper, avoiding processing, avoiding dealing with things in a healthy way because this world’s fast-paced and we just need to move on to the next thing and just get yourself together. That’s what the world would say.
And so I find that millennials are just in a tough spot. We’re just in a distracted, noisy, busy world that says, “Do your best, be your best, show us your best.” But Scripture calls something very different from us. It says to boast in our weaknesses so that we can point to the cross — to the glory of renewal in Christ Jesus. We are a generation that’s really uncomfortable with boasting in our weaknesses, and yet at the same time desperate for the authenticity of hearing someone else share that they are messy and broken too. But we’re scared to be the first one to do it.
It’s amazing to get raw and real and vulnerable and share. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people say, “Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one dealing with this.” And that’s just what’s difficult. That’s what’s challenging about this generation. And I wish, my hope, my heart, is that our generation will begin to boast in our weaknesses, share our vulnerability, share our struggles because that is where true community is born. That’s where people can come together and say, “Your scars match mine”. And that’s where someone can come and say, “These are my scars but I know healing through Jesus.”
I think when we can say, “I have these scars but I know healing through Jesus”, the people whose scars look the same say, “I want healing. I need that.” And they follow and they come to know Jesus as well. And so it’s a lot of words to wrap around a pretty simple thought, but millennials are just closed. They’re just closed. And so my heart and my hope is that vulnerability and truth would open them up and that they would become vulnerable and open to a King who has so much to say about their lives.
VICKI MORGAN: And that King you speak of, Jesus, He walks with us through our lives. And you said in Wreck My Life that living boldly is walking with people through life. And when you were talking about social media, I started to think. People think that if you interact with them on social media, it takes the place of having a relationship with people, but it doesn’t, does it? And so getting back to sharing our struggles and being open with each other and walking with people through life … some of us really don’t want to walk with other people through their messy lives. I mean let’s face it, we feel like social media and “liking their status” is going to be enough. It’s not like we don’t want to help. We want to help as long as we don’t have to get our hands dirty. So where do you think the selfishness comes from and how can we move past that selfishness?
MO ISOM AIKEN: I think a lot of it roots in selfishness of our time. There’s nothing you can do to get back time. And I think that we are in a culture, in an era that’s so busy … that is so full and occupied and to do lists and calendars and go here and do this and be seen here … and we’re in like the busiest time. And people are very selfish with their time as a result. It’s inconvenient for us to think we would have to give minutes … hours of our time to someone else, especially if that someone else isn’t getting it and it’s taking even longer than we’d hope. We’re just selfish. We’re just selfish with our time. But I love looking through Scripture and Jesus was never afraid to stop. He just stopped with people, sat with people, was present with people.
And we seem to be an era that’s forgotten the power of being present with people. We want to offer our quickest bit of response, and we’ve got other things to do and so we’re out. But Jesus sat with people and knew their adversity, their pain, their struggle. He’s relatable and genuine. And I want to live like that when, in a busy crazy world, someone stops and loves them well and comes back and loves them well and journeys with them through a season of life … through a struggle, through a hardship — they actually journey with them. They don’t just give them five minutes of their time and move on.
They genuinely pray for them. They meet any needs that they can for them. They’re there and they’re present. And that’s what looks like Jesus. And that type of love is an authentic love that’s going to look different from the rest of the world. I don’t know … I think we’ve got to get a better grasp on that. And I think when you’ve come to know Jesus and that Gospel has transformed your life, the utmost importance in your life is that others would come to know that same truth and peace and love and redemption and forgiveness. I t makes stopping a busy schedule to invest in someone’s life, it makes it a lot easier because you know the eternal significance that those relationships have.
VICKI MORGAN: And now you communicate that very well in your audiobook. You say that even though I had all these things and I was an extremely successful all-American athlete, now you say that your worth comes from Christ and now you can stop and help other athletes and audiences all over the world see that as well.
MO ISOM AIKEN: Well ,yes, I mean when you come to know Jesus, it just shifts your whole perspective and where you place your worth and what you find your value in. And all of those incredible successes, the amazing blessings that God’s given me, they’re incredible. And they help me connect with people. They help become relevant to individuals who see those things as very valuable. They’re wonderful things but they’re not what my identity is rooted in. Just like the adversity is no longer what my identity is rooted in. The highs aren’t what hold my value. The lows aren’t what hold my value. What holds my value is my relationship with Jesus Christ and the redemption and the grace that He’s extended me in my life and forgiven my sins and welcomed me into eternity with the King.
And I think when we can shift our perspective — when our identity and our worth can be rooted in that … in that constant, unchanging, never-leaving, never-failing truth of who Jesus Christ is … of God’s unmeasurable grace, then we come to understand — I may have more successes in life, I may have more values in life, but that’s unchanging. Who I am, and what God says about me, is unchanging. And I want all those around me to know that their identity … that their worth … that what God says about them is unchanging as well.
I heard an incredible quote one time. It said, “Every single person you come into contact with in your life will spend eternity in one of two places. We must love like that’s a big deal.” And that quote changed a lot for me. It changed my perspective on loving others and loving others well and what my purpose really is here in this time, and what is the most valuable types of successes to me. While it doesn’t take anything away from my athletic highs, it makes this rooted truth … this constant high of being seen and known … loved in God’s sight … it makes it the most valuable identifying factor of me and it compels me to go forward and love others like it’s a big deal that they come to know that truth too.
VICKI MORGAN: “Love others like it’s a big deal.” That’s a great mantra. And another one of your mantras is, “Wreck my life, wreck my dependence, wreck my obsessions.” It’s actually some kind of a prayer, but it also happens to be chapters in your audiobook. All of these chapters I believe are a “must listen” for every generation. And I love your videos, they’re very inspirational — and I know people are going to want to delve into this audiobook and connect with you and watch those videos and get inspired. How can we best reach you to do that?
MO ISOM AIKEN: Well, I have a website which is moisom.com that is full of video clips. It’s full of blog posts and writings. Also on the website is a calendar of my speaking events. I would love to meet you. I’d love for you to come hear what God’s laid on my heart when I’m traveling around. So there’s that. You can also connect with me on Instagram (that’s my favorite) @MoIsom, Twitter @MoIsom, Facebook … on all the different social media platforms people can connect. And I love to interact with my readers, with my fans, it’s a lot of fun for me. So I would love to connect with people there.
VICKI MORGAN: Well thanks again, Mo, for being a catalyst of courage and transformation … not only for your generation but for all of us, and for athletes and for the rest of us who want to just draw closer to God. Wreck My Life was a challenge to me in many, many ways because that is a very hard prayer to pray, but I’m learning. It’s a very powerful message. And Wreck My Life is a very powerful audiobook. Thank you so much Mo, for joining us.
MO ISOM AIKEN: Thank you. I’m honored to be able to talk about my audiobook coming out, and excited for people to listen.
VICKI MORGAN: Get your copy of Mo Isom Aiken’s new audiobook Wreck My Life at christianaudio.com. If you like getting free audiobooks, you can get one each month by joining our mailing list. I’m Victoria Morgan. Thanks for listening!
ANNOUNCER: For over ten years christianaudio.com has been providing top-quality Christian audiobooks and audio Bibles. To learn more about the titles we discussed today, or to learn how you can get a free audiobook every month, visit christianaudio.com. Thanks for listening!