Most people probably believe Laura Story is blessed based on her status as a recording artist with INO Records who’s been nominated for seven Dove Awards, including three straight Female Vocalist of the Year nods. Thus, a new album titled Blessings makes sense given her ministry in the spotlight. Those people, however, would be wrong.
Indeed, Blessings is the latest and fourth studio album from Story, but its title is a mixed bag for Story and her husband, Martin. Instead of referring to an abundance of fame and attention, the title concerns the ongoing battle waged each day as the Atlanta-based couple deals with the consequences of Martin’s brain tumor nearly five years ago – something that Story says they’re still learning to cope with.
“”Blessings” was the last song that I wrote and it ended up being the title track,” says Story. “It’s definitely the synopsis of everything we’ve been learning these last four or five years. My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor five years ago, and it very much affects everything we do.”
Story says the struggle is a daily one that affects both their physical and spiritual life, giving a perspective in the midst of balancing a music career and growing fame with each new radio single.
“On a practical level, he has some disabilities that have really changed our life as far as a memory deficit that he has,” she says. “On a spiritual level, we’ve wrestled with how God would allow something so good to happen to us—giving us this amazing platform in getting to share about God through music—while at the same time, taking us through the hardest time in our lives.”
For Story, it’s been relearning what she believed the word “blessing” to even mean, which makes it an appropriate moniker for the new project. Given everything the two have been through, the songs on Blessings mark a personal time filled with this new perspective.
“It’s made us redefine what it means for God to bless us,” she explains. “I think in the past, I would have said that God blesses His children when He answers their prayers in the way that they want. We’re learning that that’s not necessarily the case. We’ve learned there is also a blessing that comes in the midst of Him not answering our prayers the way we wish He would, when He’s teaching us to trust Him in a different and unique way.”
Not only does this affect them personally, but it also gives the live show a different perspective. Story says that most artists or speakers mention moments from their past as the obstacle they’ve overcome, yet for her and Martin, it’s about the ongoing struggle.
“Before [something like this], you feel confident speaking about things that you’ve learned and you’re on the other side of and you’ve tested them out. But this is different than that. We’re not on the other side of it. We’re choosing by faith to believe that these promises are true while still being in the midst of the problem.
“It does create weaknesses,” she continues. “We’re always in a place of vulnerability. Every night I do a concert, I say that I was faced again with choosing to believe in the midst of whatever struggle we faced that day based on Martin’s struggle. The thing about being a believer is that we find our weakness is a place of strength. When we’re weak, then God is strong. I want to see a strong God, so I have to acknowledge that it will happen when I am weak.”
Story is most famous for writing worship songs, including the Chris Tomlin-sung “Indescribable” which became a No. 2 hit on the Billboard Christian charts. In the live setting, however, it’s the personal moments of sharing from her struggle that hit home the most.
“There’s nothing as affirming as people coming up and thanking us,” says Story. “God not only uses the story to encourage and inspire, but also to make the audience ask those questions about the events in their own life that they might be calling curses right now. Perhaps those are the moments God wants to use to glorify Himself in it. Someone will say, ‘I’ve lost this loved one and I’ve never thought of it as being something God will use to glorify Himself in the midst of it.'”
The interesting part is that even though the crowd comes to her afterward to share their support and appreciation for her own vulnerability, Story says she is actually the one who is ministered to the most in those moments.
“A lot of times people will tell me at the concert, ‘Thanks so much for singing those lyrics. They really gave me hope. You sang that song for me tonight.’ I always say to them, ‘Well, I’m really glad that God used it, but I sang that song for me tonight.’ I’m the one who needs to hear this stuff. We sing the songs every night because that’s a great memory tool from God for me to sing His promises again and again. Also, getting to share our story is pretty therapeutic in terms of what we’re choosing to believe in the midst of hardship and life.”
Another struggle facing Story is dealing with the mounting pressures of her career as both a recording artist and a member of a church staff.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Fall 2011 edition of The Brink magazine.