Today, Sara speaks to us about how God set her free from so much, the meaning of freedom in Christ, some books to add to your list and a trip that changed her life.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was blessed to grow up in a loving Christian home. My parents have been married for almost 30 years and have been incredible examples of a Christ-centered marriage. I have two older sisters, and we were quite creative children. We always had new concepts for games and our imaginations brought other worlds to life.
My family always did and still does love to laugh. We value time spent together. I was homeschooled until high school and involved with church and then went to a Christian private high school. My parents gave us room to question and work through our faith to make it our own. They gave us the space to have our own personal relationship with Jesus and out of that I was able to make my faith my own at the age of fourteen. My parents and sisters have been huge inspirations to me in my walk with the Lord, and I am blessed to call them family.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Recently, I have loved Mark 6:30-44 where Jesus feeds the five thousand. In the midst of the quarantine, I was feeling discouraged about how little I can do to still be impactful to a desperate world. I felt like posting encouragements and devotionals on social media just wasn’t enough.
Then, I sat down and read this passage and Jesus spoke right to me. In the story, Jesus tells his disciples to go feed the people because they are hungry. When they tell Him they don’t have enough, He tells them to go get what they do have. When they bring it to Him, He multiplies it to abundance. It was like Jesus was telling me to bring the small amount of resources I have to Him, and He will bring it to overflow. He wants us to be a part of the miracles that He performs. I’ve also continuously been hearing Psalm 34:5 in my head which says, “Those who look to Him are radiant.”
“He wants us to be a part of the miracles that He performs.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Lately, especially in light of facing all of COVID-19 and quarantine things, I have been pressing into the idea of Jesus being better than all my other hearts desires. With the whole world kind of feeling like it’s on pause, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and long for other things. But I’ve realized that even if this is what the rest of my life were to look like, I would still have enough because Jesus is enough. There are so many things I desire in this life, and they’re all good things, but will never be enough to satisfy my soul. Jesus is still better than all of those things, and I have Him right now. And for all the ways I am struggling to believe that still I am asking for Him to help my unbelief.
Profession: I am a barista at a third wave coffee shop in Rochester, NY and a singer/songwriter and recording artist.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Freedom and Wonder.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? Growing up in a Christian home, I was always aware of Jesus. I would have said I had a relationship with him since I was five-years-old or so, but I didn’t fully understand it. I always sort of viewed God as someone you pray to before your meals, worship on Sundays, and ask for help when you need it. But when I got to middle school, I became depressed and struggled with battles in my mind. I wrestled through an eating disorder and constantly called on God but felt no response. So I turned my back on Him because I thought He was just a big angry man that was out to ruin my fun. I ran far from Him for a few years. I entered high school and indulged in all the things I was always told not to as a form of rebellion. It didn’t take long for that to leave me more broken than before.
I remember one day as I was getting ready for school, I broke down and said a simple prayer. All I asked was for a good day. I told God that I didn’t love Him and didn’t want to follow Him but just knew I couldn’t do this on my own. And I felt a wild peace that day. I knew that it was no longer on my shoulders anymore and someone else was carrying it. So I started to open up my heart but still kept my feet dipped in the things of the world. A few months later, I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I couldn’t fully explain it, but there I experienced the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus in a truly transforming way. There, I fully committed my life to Jesus and decided that I wanted His way, regardless of what I had to give up.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? Before I was walking with Jesus, I was quite mean. I was painfully obsessed with myself and as a result painfully insecure. I always thought I had to prove something to people, and I was just out to have as much fun as I wanted to, regardless of the consequences. I got myself in a lot of messes that only Jesus was able to get me out of. And in the last seven years of following Jesus closely, I have seen him pluck my insecurities away one by one. He has covered years of shame. He has shown me the worth and value I have in Him that isn’t dependent on how people respond to me. As a result of that, I don’t have to put so much pressure on my relationships to fill me up or make me feel good about myself, because Jesus has already determined my worth. Jesus has set me free of an eating disorder, crippling depression, and chaotic anxiety. I can truly say I am walking in freedom because of the love of Jesus, and He continues to mold me each and every day.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Pressing into my personal quiet time with Jesus has been transformative. I have been making sure to read a few passages of scripture everyday, even if I don’t necessarily feel the motivation. And I have spent more time on my face, quiet before the Lord and letting His peace come over me. That has really been the only peace in anxiety that I have been able to find. His presence alone is enough to calm us, and I have been experiencing that first hand in this season.
“His presence alone is enough to calm us, and I have been experiencing that first hand in this season.”
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I am currently going through a devotional called This I Know by Laura Dingman. It is a 6-week devotional talking about trusting Jesus in an unknown time. A friend and I picked it before everything with COVID-19 began but it has been perfect for this time of unknowns. There are so many examples in scripture of God proving himself in times of uncertainty and it has been an encouragement, especially right now.
Top three essentials: Daily time with Jesus, coffee, [and] an outfit that feels like me.
How did God speak to you recently? Recently, God has spoken to me that He is enough, and all my longings come second to Him. He is all I need now and forever, and I don’t need to do anything or be anything, I can just rest. In Him, I will always have enough.
“In Him, I will always have enough.”
Hobby: Thrift Shopping/outfit styling, photography.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
1. PRIORITIZE TIME WITH JESUS. I remember one time a teacher telling me that if you wanted to have an intimate and personal relationship with someone you wouldn’t only spend time with them in groups. Our time alone before Jesus is so important to our growth and intimacy with him.
2. Prioritize and foster relationships with other people who are running hard after God. It is encouraging to spend time with people who naturally bring up Jesus in conversations, tell you encouraging testimonies of ways they’re sharing the gospel, and keep you accountable in your personal life.
3. Be bold in what you believe Jesus is telling you. Write down the ways you hear God speaking. You often find that later in life He says the same things, or other people confirm them to you.
“Be bold in what you believe Jesus is telling you.”
Favorite person in scripture? I love Paul. His life is inspiring. His connection with Jesus will always inspire me. He truly is an example of someone who sacrificed so much for the gospel but saw it all as a reward. His eyes were so fixed on Jesus and because of him thousands of people now know their Savior.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want people to know that there is more freedom than most people live in. In the gospels, Jesus speaks mostly about the kingdom of heaven on earth. We don’t have to wait for heaven to see true freedom. I lived a lot of my life drowning in shallow water when Christ was reaching his hand out the whole time to pull me up. We often stay stuck in despair because we think it’s inevitable. While there will always be highs and lows in life, I do think we can walk in true freedom from fear, insecurity, and anxiety. And I want people to see that when they look at me. I want them to know that it’s Jesus in me that is bringing freedom.
“I want people to know that there is more freedom than most people live in.”
How do you engage with your community? I work at a local coffee shop where I am constantly meeting new people from the area. I try to be as vocal about my faith as I can be, showing that it is a part of who I am. I am also very active on social media and have a blog where I try to share encouraging things that Jesus is teaching me. I also sing on the worship team at my church and try to stay involved in that way.
Favorite holiday? My favorite holiday is definitely Christmas. I still find it so magical, and I love that we get over a month of Christmastime, not just one day.
A goal you have? I want to be electric. I want to have an energy about me that is contagious to others and doesn’t just make people pay attention to me, but makes them feel good about themselves, hypes them up, and points them to their creator.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: On Christmas Eve, we always gather around the tree and pass around a little dove ornament that my parents got when they first got married. We say one thing that we are thankful for and a good memory from the year. Then we read the story of Jesus’ birth and unwrap the small Jesus figure in our nativity scene.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? What are ways God got the glory in world catastrophes that we could never see?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I am very passionate about women and want them to know their worth and leadership abilities regardless of what society might say. Jesus was so blatantly for women, and I think people often miss that.
“Jesus was so blatantly for women, and I think people often miss that.”
What does your morning routine consist of? These days my morning routine consists of waking up and reading the daily devotional from The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller. I then read an article from “The Daily Good” which is a women’s sustainable living newsletter I follow. Then, I make breakfast, workout, get ready for the day, and start checking off the day’s tasks.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is following and devoting your life to Jesus Christ, believing that He is fully God, that He came to earth, that He was crucified on a cross, rose from the dead, and will one day return to make a new heaven and a new earth.
For more Sara:
Spotify: Sara Coutant
Apple Music: Sara Coutant
Facebook: Sara Coutant Music
Until next time, keep witnessing!