Everybody has a story, if you’ll stop long enough to listen.
We often hide the difficult, painful, and messy chapters of our stories, especially when we’re in the middle of living them. My first encounter with Joanie Faust let me know Joanie had a story to tell and was courageous enough to share it.
I met Joanie in 2012 when she began attending the church where I serve as one of the pastors. She was in the middle of a major life crisis (a miscarriage) and asking a ton of questions. I was excited when she was baptized in 2013. She told part of her story with a couple friends that same year. (You can watch the powerful video here – we titled it The Secret Mothers’ Club).
Joanie runs MawsLaws.com, is married to Ryan and loves being Rex’s mom. She has BFA (Bachelors of Fine Art) in Creative Writing from The University of Arizona, and has worked as a writer, editor and content director.
Joanie is refreshingly honest, genuinely hilarious and a brilliant voice. I loved getting to interact with her around the subjects of fear, courage and hope in this interview. I know you’re going to enjoy what she shares!
Scott: Joanie, thanks so much for sharing with us. This is going to seem super deep right out of the gate, but I’m just going to dive in. You struggled to get pregnant and it was a major battle for your sense of faith and hope. How did that season change you?
Joanie: Losing two babies to miscarriage is one of those events in my life where there was who I was before and who I was after. I was never the same after the first time I heard the words “baby didn’t make it.” It changed me. But even though my grief and fear could be overwhelming, I’m very fortunate that my faith and hope were just as strong.
Joanie on Fear
Scott: What has fear kept you from doing in the past? Did you ever battle fear of continuing to pursue motherhood?
Joanie: Pursing pregnancy after a loss is a very scary thing to do. There’s an element of post-traumatic stress that most women go through that unfortunately is rarely recognized or properly treated. As soon as I was able to get out of bed after my first miscarriage I called a mental health therapist. Once I had an appointment set, I started looking for a home church. I knew there was no way on earth I was getting through any of it without help and that help included therapy, faith, friends, family, everything.
Even though fear lived with me everyday, fear never kept me from pursuing motherhood. I was always (and will forever be) terrified of losing, but that fear wasn’t powerful enough to push me away from something I felt I was destined to do and something I wanted so badly. That’s not to say I’m anyone special because I was able to push through it, it’s just what happened. If anything, I think I’m more fearful than most, but as much as humans are equipped to be afraid, we’re also equipped to be courageous. Fear is strong, but a person is stronger.
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Joanie on Courage
Scott: What helped you become courageous in the face of fear?
Joanie: I always credit my second baby, who I lost, with helping me become courageous in the face of fear. After I lost my first baby, I felt like I was teetering on the edge of a cliff, just completely broken and waiting for another event to happen that would knock me over and send me falling off the edge. When I lost my second baby, it did knock me over, but I fell the other way. I sort of woke up and thought, “Wait, you don’t want to jump. You don’t want to stay on this cliff.” So I walked away from that edge and got on with life.
The thing I feared more than anything (losing another baby) actually helped me realize I wasn’t afraid and I could handle whatever came my way. Again, I can’t credit myself for that. I was stronger because I had surrounded myself with amazing support.
Joanie on Hope
Scott: How did you stay hopeful?
Joanie: I would always tell myself that anyone who wants to be a mother eventually becomes one. It may not look the way you always imagined it, or it may take a while to get there, but everyone who wants to get there will get there. I knew the only way I would fail is if I gave up. I think that’s true for most things. You’ll find success eventually if you keep trying. You just have to be open to what that success looks like.
Scott: You’re now writing and running a blog for moms. What does fear most often look or sound like in your life as a writer?
Joanie: Oh boy. In that aspect of my life, fear is the voice in my head in a constant loop saying, “You’re not good enough for this, why do you think anyone cares what you have to say, this has been done before, you’re going to embarrass yourself, you’re not special, etc.” If you know of a way to turn that off, please let me know. But I feel like self-doubt is the inherit curse of any writer and it’s supposed to be that way so that we’ll keep striving to be better.
Joanie’s Encouragement to You
Scott: What would you say to encourage readers who are battling fear?
Joanie: One of the most amazing things about pregnancy and motherhood (and running a pregnancy and motherhood blog) is finding out that you’re not alone. I remember being at home with my son when he was a few weeks old and I was trimming his nails when I accidentally trimmed his finger. Not his nail, his FINGER. Oh, his cries and mine were epic. After we both calmed down, the first thing I did was text every mom in my phone and ask them to please tell me they had done the same thing. I got instant replies confirming they had all done it, and most were happy to share stories that were much worse to make me feel better. That was a turning point for me as a mom because I finally felt free to be honest and not act like I had it all together. Because I had wanted to be a mom for so long, I was afraid everyone assumed I had done my research and done my training and should’ve been a perfect mom by the time my baby arrived. None of my wishing, hoping, and praying to be a mom actually prepared me to be a mom. That’s a totally different thing.
I would encourage readers who are battling fear to realize we are all walking around completely terrified and once you admit that, the fear starts to go away. And don’t wait for an event to knock you back away from your cliff, knock yourself back and remind yourself that you don’t want to jump.
Joanie, thanks so much for sharing with us!
You can check out Joanie’s blog at MawsLaws.com, where Joanie shares about what she’s learning from life and motherhood.
If you’d like to ask Joanie a question, share a comment below. I know she’ll be checking in on this post.