In 2020, in the midst of quarantine, Bethel Music co-founder Jenn Johnson felt God revealing to her some truths about herself — and they were, according to her, “mostly ugly.”
“If I'm honest — which I'm always honest — if I'm transparent, I really took a big look at my life one night at the piano after months of no corporate worship; we were leading on cameras for the church, but there weren't people in the room,” the singer-songwriter told The Christian Post.
“I really had this awareness of the fact that I usually only ... make the time to worship when there's a stage involved. And that cut me deep. And I remember just this moment where all my kids had gone to bed, at the piano with the Lord for like one of the first times in a very long time, because life was so demanding and I just was not making time for quiet time to worship. I just had a special moment of bawling my eyes out and … getting back to the heart of worship ... [I realized] I need to be more intentional, to make time with this in this wild, loud house.”
An acclaimed worship leader and mother of five — most recently to son, Malachi, who she and her husband, Brian, adopted early last year — Johnson understands the challenges that come along with endless busyness. Hoping to encourage other women to focus on a holy and holistic life — one free from unrealistic pressures and marked by beauty and truth — she penned her new book, All Things Lovely.
She described the book as a “fun peek into our life of juggling it all,” sharing childhood stories of loving the Church, valuing community and health, and how to set one’s mind on things that are lovely.
In it, the “Goodness of God” singer shares how to practice and prioritize emotional, relational and spiritual health; for example, she dedicates an entire chapter to the importance of cleaning out an “emotional junk drawer.”
“Just not letting yourself get a junk drawer in your heart, where you're harboring bitterness or unforgiveness, you're dealing with things, whether they're physical or emotional … you're talking to people when they hurt you,” she said. “Otherwise, it really messes you up if you don't, and it gets ugly fast.”
A coffee-table-style book, All Things Lovely also delves into the importance of biblical hospitality, which Johnson defines as simply “loving people.”
“For us, we have such a passion to invite people over that are of mixed backgrounds, are of mixed church … you just watch iron sharpen iron as they talk and get together and build community within unity, within diversity,” she shared.
In her own life, Johnson said she constantly seeks the wisdom of the Holy Spirit when it comes to raising her children — her daughter recently got married — and teaching them to know and love the Lord. She advised other mothers to seek help and refrain from placing pressure on themselves, stressing the importance of balancing work, rest and play.
“There are some days where I feel like I'm doing a great job and sometimes failing miserably,” she reflected. “I think that's just life; you do your best. You work on what you are not good at. We're really connected to our home church that has requirements and meetings and speaking, and leading worship, and then we have five kids, and they are from 1 year old to 20, so it's an absolute zoo.”
Johnson added: “I try to not put pressure on myself, but really let the Holy Spirit lead me … You can kind of get through anything, at least I can ... if I've got work, rest and play.”
The local church, the artist said, is an “anchor” for her family — and the place she, as a little girl, and her husband, came to know the Lord.
“My husband and I both came from Christian families and were raised in Church. And I think that was huge, raising our kids in Church, to love everyone, to be the Church everywhere, but to have that foundation in the love of the community and gathering of the saints, as the Word says.”
Through her book, the California resident said she hopes to inspire readers to get healthy, look at the junk drawers in their life and put action to them — whether it’s physical or emotional — and take a “deep dive” into the depths of their heart.
But more importantly, she said, she wants to lead people to God and follow His leading in every aspect of their lives.
“He's there and He's talking, and He's your friend, and He wants to help you," she reminded. "He's the counselor and the comforter. He’s amazing. My biggest prayer is that it would just lead people into getting healthy and knowing God on a deeper level than they might have before.”