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Christian social media influencer Kelsey Grimm opens up about battle with suicide, faith and identity

Kelsey Grimm
Kelsey Grimm of duo Caleb+Kelsey releases debut book “Over It,” Sept. 21, 2021. |

Social media influencer Kelsey Grimm of the YouTube duo Caleb + Kelsey says she understands what it's like to face overwhelming expectations.

“Unspoken expectations surround us. In culture, in the church, and in general. If they weren't pushed on you as a child, you're now scrolling through them as an adult. You should look like this, talk like that, dress like them. Own a house that looks like Joanna Gaines just decorated. Be as fit as your favorite Instagram mom, who somehow works out on her Peloton while balancing a newborn on one hip and her side hustle on the other. And, by the way, are you really in counseling this early in your marriage? The expectations surrounding us, particularly women, are ridiculous,” Grimm says in her new book,Over It, Forgetting Who You’re Expected to be and Becoming Who You Already Are.

Grimm has battled her way through the music industry and navigated the pressures that come with being an influencer on Instagram and TikTok. She and her husband, Caleb, from the Christian band Anthem Lights, are often seen on YouTube performing worship covers that have garnered hundreds of thousands of views. 

In an interview with The Christian Post, Grimm, who's also a survivor of emotional and sexual abuse from a past relationship, said, "We will always carry scars of what the trauma represented in our lives, but we don’t have to be defined by it."

The singer told CP that she wants her new book to encourage others to look to Jesus and not the secular world for fulfillment while gaining their identity from God alone. All of her life experiences, she said, have taught her the importance of gaining freedom, letting go of expectations and "embracing the beautiful reality of who you already are."

In the following Q&A interview with CP, the social media star shares her heart behind the new book — which is targeted at modern-day Christian women — and offers advice for anyone who's struggling with their faith, identity and suicide ideation.

CP: What made you want to go from being in front of the camera to being an author in this season?

Grimm: I’m not sure I’ve ever felt super comfortable in front of the camera, to be honest! I have definitely grown in that area, and it’s a very integral part of what Caleb and I do as artists to share our music with the world. As much as I’m passionate about sharing our music and art with the world, there’s always been an element of vulnerability and honesty I’ve longed for the opportunity to share as well. Our music offers a piece of our hearts, but ultimately I have wanted to share a much deeper part of my own heart and story for a long time now.

I’ve held a deep love of writing in my heart for years and have often wondered how God might present me with opportunities to share it. My book takes my story and heart to the most vulnerable level and I can’t wait to be known deeper than our music has allowed up to this point. It’s finally time for my love of writing to be out there. 

CP: Over It is a great title. A lot of people have a hard time getting over the most traumatic moments in their lives. Can you share a brief testimony of one of your hardest moments and how God helped you get through it?

Grimm: The book title “Over It” came from the idea that I was trying so desperately to live up to the expectations of others — of culture and all the other areas of life that try to define who I was. I spent most of my life trying to be who I thought other people needed me to be. It’s where I placed my worth.

Ultimately, this led me down a dark and damaging road that culminated in an abusive relationship, a suicidal night on a bridge in Nashville and a desperate feeling of hopelessness. They were the darkest years of my life — years I didn’t think I’d survive, honestly. But all along, God was there. He never left me. Even when I couldn’t see, He was orchestrating a rescue plan for my life. 

It took hard work, making difficult choices, and asking for professional help too. But ultimately, I survived and lived to tell about those years. The reality is that we can’t deal with trauma alone. And trauma never leaves us. We will always carry scars of what the trauma represented in our lives, but we don’t have to be defined by it. We can all find healing and wholeness again. No place is too dark for God to pull you from. And I am walking, living proof of that truth.

CP: I know your book encourages women to know that they are already loved and enough. How do you help a woman who is having trouble believing that truth?

Grimm: I think we all struggle with this concept from time to time. No person is exempt from feelings of inadequacy. So know that first and foremost — you’re not alone. I think it’s important to remember in those moments the source of our worth and where our value comes from — and that’s the love your Creator has for you simply because you exist, because you are His. You are worthy of love, of good, of blessings and honor simply because you’re a child of God. When culture tries to tell you you’re not enough, just remember who created you and whose image you bear.  

CP: What is a way you have gotten over the pressures that come with the expectations of being an influencer?

Grimm: To be fully transparent, I don’t know I will ever fully “get over” the pressures that come alongside being an influencer. I think over the years, I’ve learned to find my worth from the Source, in who God created me to be, and it doesn’t matter ultimately what anyone else thinks. Of course, this truth is always easier said than done, but I am constantly working through shattering the expectations people have of me and reminding myself that I am a whole and loved by God woman just as I am today. 

I often remind myself that “hurt people, hurt people.” Not everyone who says mean things or leaves inconsiderate remarks to me necessarily intends to hurt me (although sometimes that’s true). Sometimes what people say behind the comfort of a keyboard is really just coming from a place of their own insecurity and hurt. 

CP: How was it for you to share so honestly about the traumas you've been through. What are you hoping will be the result?

Grimm: It was and will continue to be terrifying to be this honest and vulnerable with the world. My story has a lot of darkness riddled throughout it, and things I’m not particularly proud to share. But part of being human means being messy, making mistakes and then having the courage to share them in hopes that it might help someone coming after you. And that is my hope and prayer in sharing my story through this book.

I want women to know that they’re never too lost to find their worth again. And I want women to know that you never know someone else’s story and what they’ve been through unless they share it with you. Most people who look at my life from the outside think it’s been perfect. And I’m here to tell them it wasn’t and isn’t. And that’s OK. We’re all on this life journey together. Embrace the mess, there’s always something to be learned from it.  

CP: As a wife, mother and influencer, how do you maintain your identity in who God made you to be and not get caught up in those titles?

Grimm: I think it’s important to remember our titles don’t define us. We can definitely find purpose and fulfillment in some of our titles. For instance, being a mama is one of my favorite titles because it brings me such deep joy, and it’s one I carry with so much honor. But it’s still important to remember our titles don’t bring our worth or our value. They don’t even make us who we are. Who we are is loved by God. Period. And that’s where we can remind ourselves of our intrinsic value.

CP: What advice do you have for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts?

Grimm: Please know that you’re worthy to be here. You’re worthy to take up space in the world — to leave a footprint. And most importantly, don’t fight this fight alone. Reach out to someone for help. There are so many people that would be honored to walk you through this season of your life. There are always brighter days ahead, but get help through the dark ones. 

CP: What advice do you have for anyone struggling in their faith?

Grimm: We all struggle in our faith. It’s part of having faith at all. Believing in someone or something we can’t see is confusing and hard sometimes. Surround yourself with people who give you space to ask questions and sit with you wherever you are on your faith journey. 

Sometimes leaning into a season where you have more questions than answers isn’t a bad place to be. Ask God to open your eyes to see — I promise you He will. But know that there’s no “wrong way” to have faith.

Over It is now available everywhere books are sold. 

Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: jeannie.law@christianpost.com She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic

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