Christy Nockels is a wife, mother, and internationally renowned worship leader and recording artist familiar with both the rush of the stage and the everyday mundane. As a Passion Conference worship leader, her music has inspired thousands of university-aged students worldwide to sing, dance, and raise millions of dollars to combat human trafficking around the globe. Passion's most recent album, Let the Future Begin, was released yesterday.
As a suburban mom living in Atlanta with her husband and three children, Christy recently opened up to TCW about how to make everyday tasks become something glorious by welcoming Jesus into our hearts, homes, and minivans.
You have 3 children at home: Noah (12), Elliana (10), and Annie Rose (5). Talk briefly about your work/life balance, and the priorities of faith, family, and marriage in your life.
When I took some time off from touring and producing records with Watermark in 2006, I had to re-learn how to run my house. We'd been touring so much before we had kids, and when the kids were tiny, I didn't really know how to care for my house. I'd cook food and take care of things at home, but true foundation building takes time, and your heart has to be in it.
One of the sweetest things I clung to during that time was Psalm 37. I was saved when I was seven years old through the message of Psalm 37:5 on a wall plaque in my house: "Commit your way to the Lord, and trust in him." I still wanted to sing and write, but God was bringing me back to this foundation for being a mom and a wife first. I meditated on Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." If I found my satisfaction and delight in him, he would give me those desires.
Coming off the road was so sweet, and for now, I'm touring again a little bit, but I'm able to keep my focus on being a wife and mom. I know God will take care of the desires of my heart, but I've got to hit the mark of family being first. It's a journey that I want to be able to encourage others in as well.
What encouragement do you have for mothers in homes today?
I think if there's anything that women struggle with day to day is that the mundane can be more crushing and immobilizing than we realize in the moment. We think these moments of picking up the kids and going to work don't feel very glorious or spiritual, but God really is with us in the mundane. I have to open myself up every moment to be invited into the glorious, and I'm going to invite my kids into that as well. I'm going to write songs in my minivan. A lot of my album Into the Glorious was written in my car singing into my iPhone, praying prayers, asking God to somehow shape some songs in the middle of everyday life.
God faithfully did that through me. He was in the everyday moments of my life, and I have proof because there are 12 songs he brought through that busy, crazy time to encourage women. When you can pray while doing laundry, that's a good step.
What did you learn from the 2013 Passion Conference, where you led more than 60,000 university-aged students in worship as they united in a stand against human trafficking?
It's been incredible to realize that leading worship and standing up for people who have no voice need to be one and the same. Many leave the conference with this whole new perspective on their entire lives, and they're in this whole new posture of how can I give my life away? For some, who they're going to marry, how they're going to raise their families, and what direction their lives are going to go has completely changed over the course of four days.
It's just amazing, and we see it every year. When the students walk in the doors the third night, it's usually a completely different response than what we saw the first night. You'll see the weight of the world they've been carrying around in their everyday lives lift off of them, and they've adopted a completely different posture by the time they leave. Getting to lead worship is incredible because we're a part of getting to put songs in their hearts and in their mouths to sing during that transformation, so it's very powerful.
You wrote a song called "Sing Along" and dedicated it to the fight against human trafficking. How would you encourage women to sing along with their lives in faith on a day-to-day basis?
"Sing Along" is a song that stirred from my desire to raise grateful children. I want them to understand everything they have is a privilege—even going to school. I asked my five-year-old last night, "Do you understand you're blessed?" I hope to open up the lives of my children to look around and see what's around us. This song is really a cry for how we can reach beyond this world that we live in and really know the heart of God. To know what's on his heart, know what breaks his heart, and respond to that with our lives.
Along with having three kids, you've also experienced two miscarriages. How did you work through those trials?
Not many people are happy about trials that come in life, but I've come to a place where I'm grateful for that season of my life, even though at the time it was crushing. You don't realize until you go through something like that—it's a quiet loss.
I clung to the truth that Jesus was the foundation of my joy. During that time I learned he uses sorrow and pain for a lot of reasons, and one is for us to be able to share him and to comfort others. If I hadn't experienced those losses for myself, I wouldn't be able to identify with people in that pain. Now I'm able to comfort others through the comfort he gave me, and that's Scripture being lived out. He lets us suffer so we'll share him.
I remember finding out I was pregnant with my now-12-year-old. We had experienced a couple of miscarriages and thought, God, if it brings you the most glory, I give this baby over to you as well. That was a huge step for my heart to say, Jesus, you're the foundation of my joy. You're able to love your children differently when Jesus is at the foundation of your joy.
That question is so important: am I at the foundation of your joy? Or is getting pregnant, having a baby, singing on this stage, or being a part of this ministry? He asks me that all the time, am I truly what you need, the source of you being satisfied on this earth? Do you believe your children are a blessing and a joy? Jesus, you're enough.
How would you encourage women who have recently experienced miscarriages or the loss of a child to work through the healing process?
For me it was having people around me. I knew I needed a support system around me to heal, so my mom came and cooked and cared for me during that time. I also journaled a lot while I was experiencing that pain. That was healing for me. It's neat to go back and look at what I was writing at the time, including a song called "Glory Baby" I wrote in the early 2000s. Writing that song was a large part of my healing, and I wanted it to be part of others' healing as well.
Blessed Be Your name was a song Matt Redman wrote out of his wife, Beth, having a miscarriage. The Scripture says, "He gives and takes away," but getting to that place of actually saying "blessed be the name of the Lord" means we're grieving well. I have a friend who just had a miscarriage, and she insisted she had to move on with her life and keep going in her job. I told her she needed to grieve. Make that process a priority. Try to come to a place where, even though you're in pain, you can still say, blessed be the name of the Lord.
Why is it important for Christians to engage in church communities worldwide?
The global church is huge, and it's something we're called to be a part of. I didn't get that when I was a college student. Now, I see how vital it is to be part of a worshipful community.
We've got to reach our cities, then it can go out globally from there. It's so important to put one foot in front of the other—everybody wants to belong, but it takes obedience to grow and connect as a community. When you want to be a hermit and go back to your room, don't. God himself is a community: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That's a design for us, a design for life. You can't change the world by yourself. Community is hard, but it's worth it.
Pressing in and moving beyond our little community of people in our church means pressing beyond those moments where you start bumping into each other. There may be differences of opinions and different ways of doing this or that, but when you push beyond those things, it really does bring you closer to walk together into more than what's happening in places like our little church here in Atlanta. The local church can also be global, reaching the world.