When God Gets Your Attention with ABC News’ Paula Faris

When God Gets Your Attention with ABC News' Paula Faris

When God Gets Your Attention with ABC News’ Paula Faris

My guest is Paula Faris. As you probably know, Paula is a Senior National Correspondent for ABC News, and she’s had one heck of a journey. She’s won multiple Emmys reporting on politics, sports, entertainment, major stories of the day, she’s interviewed political leaders, athletes, newsmakers, and even celebrities.

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TWITTER: @paulafaris



I’ve got to say, to my fellow geeks out there, Paula has interviewed the cast from the most recent Star Wars movies, as well as The Avengers… like as in ALL of the Avengers. I mean, come on, right?

Last fall, she walked away from a couple of the most coveted positions within her industry, being the co-anchor of Good Morning America weekend edition, as well as being a co-host of ABC’s The View, all to do something she felt called to do. One of those things was to launch a podcast called “Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris.”

Now I can tell you, this podcast has become one of my own favorite podcasts because Paula’s doing this incredible job of talking with some of the world’s most influential people about how their faith and spirituality guide them through the best and worst of times.

I’ve got to say, it’s pretty revolutionary. I don’t think that’s too strong a word, because she’s open about her own faith as a Christian, but she’s talking with people from a wide array of faith backgrounds. Like when I say that, I mean she’s really talking with people, she’s connecting, she’s not debating, she’s talking. She goes in curious, she honors the people’s stories, it’s just so interesting, eye-opening, refreshing, you’ve got to check it out. Seriously, this was a bold move, to launch something like this and do it in the way that she’s been doing it.

The more I’ve been listening to her show, the more I’ve wanted to have her on DREAM THINK DO, so we could talk with her about her journey and dig into some of the things she’s been learning along the way. Let’s get to this, Paula Faris, welcome to DREAM THINK DO.

Paula Faris: Thank you so much, Mitch, I’m so honored.

Mitch Matthews: This is awesome. Okay, so I know people probably know your name, they’ve seen you doing your thing, but what is an average day, a “normal” … I’m doing air quotes because I’m guessing there’s not really a normal day.

Paula Faris: Yeah, let’s do some air quotes.

Mitch Matthews: What does a normal day look like for you right now?

Paula Faris: A normal day, well it’s a lot different than my normal day, say, a year ago, which weekends I was getting up at like three, 3:30 in the morning and going to anchor at Good Morning America weekend edition, and just working crazy hours, Fridays I did “The View.” Now I work primarily Monday through Friday, a day for me is, like for instance, today I got up early to do GMA, I filed a story for Good Morning America weekday edition, and I’m doing this podcast now, I have a shoot later for Good Morning America at Disney down in Brooklyn. It’s a little bit of everything right now because I am a Senior National Correspondent. I’ll file for Good Morning America, I’ll file for World News Tonight, for Nightline, the various ABC platforms that we have.

Then I do podcasts, so I’ve recorded a couple of podcasts this week for my new podcast, Journeys of Faith. By the way, I appreciate you plugging it and listening and supporting it.

It’s a mixed bag, but I’m really enjoying this new lane and this new kind of venture. I walked away from those two dream jobs, as you mentioned because I just needed some more balance. Now it’s primarily Monday through Friday, and I’ll fly, I’ll travel occasionally for those interviews like you mentioned, The Avengers, Star Wars, that took me to LA and Chicago for those interviews, which is great.

Mitch Matthews: My wife freaked when she also heard you were at the royal wedding last year, like are you kidding me?

Paula Faris: I know, I was right there at Windsor Castle where Harry and Megan were married. I’d say that was the moment, as a journalist, you always want to kind of remove yourself from the situation, you are not part of the story, you are just letting the facts speak for themselves and you’re an observer. That was one of those assignments that I totally fan-girled, and I was not expecting to have that reaction.

Mitch Matthews: I wondered about that, like if that ever comes out.

Paula Faris: Big time.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, I would think that or The Avengers, I know that I would freak out, like, “Okay, keep it cool, keep it cool.”

Paula Faris: Any guy or girl freaks out when they see Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans walk in a room, which happened to me, so I was like, “Where’s my train of thought, what was I supposed to ask you?”

Mitch Matthews: Exactly.

Paula Faris: Exactly.

Mitch Matthews: I love it, I love it. Yeah, but it really does, I can only imagine kind of your previous life, just not even a year ago, it was pretty much, from what I understand, seven days a week. You were doing Good Morning America on the weekends, doing The View during the week, I mean crazy, full, I’m sure amazing, but also really challenging schedule.

Paula Faris: Yes, it was very challenging, and you know, I think as people of faith, we’re taught from the time we’re young to walk and to find your calling and live up to it, but I got to a point where I felt like my vocational calling had really consumed me, to the point where my family was getting my leftovers, my friends, my relationships were suffering. I wasn’t going to church as regularly, and so I really felt that God was trying to get my attention. I went through a really tough season where he had to get my attention to step away from these two dream jobs, even though it was really hard and I was scared, and in fear of what people think of me, and who walks away from those jobs?

I was told you’d be crazy to give that up, but just really wanted me to walk into this new season of kind of ambiguity and launch a faith podcast. When my contract was up, I went to ABC last spring and said, “I need to work Monday through Friday, I need to get my life back. I’d like to do consequential interviews and consequential stories, and launch a faith podcast.” They worked with me, they were gracious with me, and they said absolutely. It was terrifying to walk into that, not only-

Mitch Matthews: I bet.

Paula Faris: To give up these two dream jobs, but also to walk into this kind of season of ambiguity. Really, it’s been amazing to see the new doors that have opened up. It’s that quote from Martin Luther King, you know, “Faith is taking that first step when you can’t see the staircase.” I joked that I couldn’t even really see that first step when I walked away, and I was terrified not only of what I was walking into but what I was walking away from. I had to kind of move past that fear.

Mitch Matthews: Well, I think that’s a really big thing. I want to go back to that because I think a lot of dream-think-doers are in the midst of a kind of where you’re at. We have a lot of very successful people that listen to this, and it’s so often it’s kind of one of those where it’s like you’ve hit the pinnacle of success, you’re good. That doesn’t necessarily mean the journey’s done, and it’s so often we need to keep listening, you know like you, kind of praying and saying, “All right, what is it that I need to do?” Sometimes there are tough seasons and we need to double down and recommit, and other times it’s like, “Wait, this feels different.”

It’s so interesting to look at your story. So often, people I think will hit that pinnacle position, those high points, and so often I think stay with them longer than they should, and sometimes you see them go down in flames because of it, and here you were-

Paula Faris: Completely, I was headed for that. I was totally headed for that, [crosstalk 00:08:57] I was burnt out and I was flaming out. It was a year before, it was the summer of 2017, and I had initially talked to one of my executives and I said, “I’m really thinking about stepping away from the weekends and The View.” I was told, and it wasn’t in a way to scare me at all, it was just a dose of reality, “This isn’t a great career move for you, we just want to let you know.” I understand that, and people will think that you’re crazy if you do this, because there are people lining up for these jobs. I think I let that fear paralyze me, and I was like, “You’re right, I’ll just keep digging in, I’ll keep digging in and I’ll dig in even harder, and prove my worth.”

Then I went through this season of seven months which, like the underlying denominator here is I knew that I was supposed to walk away, I just had that feeling, but I was too scared and I let my fear paralyze me. I went through this tough season, I’m like, “If you don’t take the cues from God, he’s going to give you those cues a little bit louder.” I went through this season where I just knew God was getting my attention, I had a miscarriage and then an emergency surgery following that, and then I had a concussion and I was knocked out of work for three weeks, and the day I got cleared to go back to work I got into a head-on car crash, and then I developed influenza, like influenza, not just, “Oh, I don’t feel well,” influenza which turns into pneumonia, and that was seven months.

I was like, “Okay, God, I got the picture. You’re trying to get my attention here, slow down, and to stop putting all my value in what I do and my job, this vocation.” I say, sometimes, I mean I am probably one of the most stubborn people out there, which I think makes me an effective journalist because I’m tenacious and I’m a bulldog and I’ll go for it, but in the same sense, it almost cost me, I wouldn’t say everything, but my stubbornness, I didn’t want to hear it. God did what he had to to get my attention, and he did, loud and clear. I mean, [crosstalk 00:11:06] literally I got hit in the head with an apple on a live shot, and it exploded, the apple was traveling about 60 miles an hour, like I literally had to get hit over the head for God to get my attention, but that’s what gave me the concussion.

Mitch Matthews: Well, I heard that story and I’m like, “How is that even … Who brings an apple to throw? Like that’s the craziest thing.” I do think I’m with you, it’s like whether God causes those things, or I think a lot of times, he just redeems them, like what the heck [crosstalk 00:11:35]-

Paula Faris: Totally.

Mitch Matthews: It’s that whole thing of being able to say, “Okay, God, like what am I to do with this, and what am I [crosstalk 00:11:42]?” But still, [crosstalk 00:11:44]-

Paula Faris: Because he goes to great lengths to get your attention when you’re not paying attention.

Mitch Matthews: And to know that he’s right there with you as you’re in it, it’s like crazy. At the same time, like knowing, here you are, your seven months of a tough season, it sounds like, and obviously God’s using it or working through it at the very least, redeeming it to get your attention to continue to talk, but what’s it like … I can only imagine what it would be like the day you decided to have that conversation. What did you have to do-

Paula Faris: Terrifying.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, because there’s a lot of dream-think-doers that are in different roles that may be a tough conversation’s coming, like they’ve got to either take a stand or they’ve got to put it out there with someone, or they’ve got to share the dream. What was that day like, and how did you just push through and do it?

Paula Faris: I had to meet with my boss, and we had scheduled a lunch. I was so terrified, that was one of those moments that I needed a prompter, and I never do, because I had written everything down that I wanted to say, because I’m like, “This is really important, I don’t want it to come out wrong.” Just because you know what you’re doing is the right thing does not mean that you’re not terrified. I was scared to death, but I realized that that same fear that was paralyzing me at that moment was also paralyzing me from taking that much-needed step that I needed to. I just realized like, “I know this is right, doesn’t mean it’s not scary, but I have to do this.”

Many times, you know what you’re stepping away from but you don’t know what you’re stepping into, even though you know you’re supposed to, and that’s really where faith comes in. I mean, I didn’t expect all of these doors to start opening up, I didn’t have a magic eight-ball, or I didn’t have the tea leaves to read to see what was going to happen, but you know that’s the beauty of the journey. Fear is going to be there regardless, but you just have to push past that and you really have to believe that what you’re doing is going to lead to a better place. That’s what I had to do, and I don’t mean for it to sound trite, but the fear was there, I had to recognize it and then I had to face it down. Then even after I talked to my boss that day, I was like, “What the heck did I just do?”

Mitch Matthews: Exactly,

Paula Faris: That’s totally normal, that’s totally normal, but it’s been so amazing. I feel like my career has been, there’s some ambiguity into what I’m doing but it’s so rewarding, and many times the blessings don’t always come on the vocational side. The blessings have been personal blessings too, I have a life, my husband and I can get away, we never could get away overnight because I worked weekends, he worked weekdays, it was a completely conflicting schedule. It’s been really, really amazing, I mean the faith podcast has opened a ton of doors. I just moderated a panel in May, it was called Uniting the Faithful, dignitaries and luminaries from the different faiths at the UN, which was-

Mitch Matthews: I was going to say, at the UN, for crying out loud.

Paula Faris: At the United Nations, for God’s sakes.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, exactly.

Paula Faris: I couldn’t see that, like I didn’t have a crystal ball, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but as I said, you have to take that step of faith. Again, I don’t want it to sound trite, but the fear is normal, you have to push past it, you just have to keep believing, you really do, and keep positive. Stay positive and surround yourself with people that are going to encourage you along the way, not discourage you.

Mitch Matthews: That’s so true. It’s also like you said, it sounds like, “Okay, we’re in danger of being trite here,” but it’s only trite because it’s true. It’s one of those things that if you’re going to go after a dream if you’re feeling called to something, there’s going to be fear involved. There’s no doubt if there’s not 

Paula Faris: Completely.

Mitch Matthews: Using copious amounts of drugs, or you know 

Paula Faris: Exactly, exactly.

Mitch Matthews: Other issues going on. Absolutely. Now, one other question though that I had, you know personally, listening to the podcast, it’s truly as you listen to it, guys, go check it out, but as you listen to Journeys of Faith, it’s kind of one of those where you’re like, “Oh, this podcast has been around forever.” It just feels like it fits like a glove, you have a wide variety of guests, I mean Robin Roberts all the way to Ben Shapiro, to Dave Ramsey to Deion Sanders, Melissa Joan Hart, I just listened to that one last night, that was so much fun.

Paula Faris: That was so fun, we recorded it in her office in her Connecticut home, which is hilarious.

Mitch Matthews: Speaking of offices and homes, you were just in Chris Tomlin’s home.

Paula Faris: Yes.

Mitch Matthews: Like he’s singing, and I loved how you couldn’t help yourself, I know you didn’t want to, but like you can hear you, you couldn’t help yourself, you started singing. I’m like, this is [crosstalk 00:16:58]-

Paula Faris: I did, and I was-

Mitch Matthews: Singing here.

Paula Faris: I couldn’t help it, because that’s the thing, Chris Tomlin who is probably one of the most influential singer-songwriters of our time, and his music is sung in 20 to 30 million churches every week, so I didn’t want to sing because that’s intimidating, but he writes music that can be sung. [crosstalk 00:17:17] He is a worship leader, and he said when he first started performing, he told his mom, “I don’t like this, I don’t like everybody staring at me.” That’s why he started writing music that people could participate in, so he started writing really simple music when he was young, when he was in high school. That’s really how he started walking into that calling, and that’s why his music is just so singable, because that’s the intent, that’s where it comes from.

He does not want to perform, he wants to engage with you, and he wants you to engage with the music. I couldn’t help but start singing at the end of the interview, and I told our audio producers afterward, I was like, I just figured that we recorded two tracks, I’m like, “Just kill my audio, please,” [crosstalk 00:17:53] and they were like, “Uh, it’s all on one track, so it’s there.” I’m like, “Great.”

Mitch Matthews: I loved it. Well, it’s so funny because I found myself singing along, because you know, every song he’s doing it’s like, “I know that one,” but it was like [crosstalk 00:18:04]-

Paula Faris: I know.

Mitch Matthews: Singing too, it’s like, “We’re in this together.”

Paula Faris: Gosh, that was embarrassing though. [crosstalk 00:18:08] I really thought it would be on two separate audio tracks and they could just kill it, but [crosstalk 00:18:12] not happening.

Mitch Matthews: I love it. The thing though is that sometimes you listen to something new and go, “Eh, they’re finding their footing,” and obviously this is based on interviewing people, you’ve been doing that for years, but at the same time it just, with the faith conversations it feels like it’s fitting like a glove. It feels like it’s always been around, even though it’s, I think, revolutionary, the way that you’re doing this, actually having conversations with people I know you have very similar faith background to, but also people with completely different outlooks and perspectives. You know, I’ll listen to the Sam Harris interview, as an example, it’s completely different perspectives, all of that.

As you’re having those conversations, we’re time traveling here because we’re talking about the now, but let’s go back to that, those initial conversations. As you’re starting to have that conversation, did you have this in mind? Because so many people, as they start to have what we call an “essence” of a dream, like the essence of the vision, it’s like you don’t know all the parts, you don’t know the specifics, but you just know you’ve got to keep stepping forward. When you’re having those initial conversations with ABC, you’re taking the risk of saying, “I need to do something different,” did you have Journeys of Faith specifically in mind, did you know what it was going to look like, or was it like, “I have a sense of what it’s going to look like, and I’m just going to keep walking towards it”?

Paula Faris: No, it was just a sense.

Mitch Matthews: Wow.

Paula Faris: What’s interesting is, my former co-anchor on the weekend, Dan Harris, who also has a very popular podcast called 10% Happier, and he’s a New York Times Bestseller, you know he is an agnostic Buddhist. He and I would routinely, we have a brother/sister relationship, we adore one another, but I was talking to him, he knew what I was going through, that I was really just feeling this pull between work and family to find more balance. I said, “You know, I really want to do something else.” He’s the one that, he doesn’t remember this but I do, he’s the one that encouraged me to, he’s like, “You really need to work in the faith lane, because you’re trying to figure out what is it that’s unique about me, what do I really want to do.”

I never really thought about it, because for me, it’s not like me and my faith, that my faith is who I am, and it’s so foundational I don’t see myself separate from it. He said, “You know, you should really explore the faith lane, you should do a faith podcast.” I said, “That’s a great idea.” When I first, there had been many iterations of what we wanted the podcast to be. When I went to my boss’s last spring, it was basically just a zygote, like we didn’t know the gender, we didn’t know anything about the baby, so it really just started evolving.

Mitch Matthews: That’s amazing.

Paula Faris: What I really think what is missing in our culture today is these conversations of faith, these comfortable conversations where we can talk to one another regardless of our faith background, and respect one another for their traditions and their cultures, and learn. I had a member from the Sikh community, or he pronounces it “Sikh”, and you know it’s the largest religion in the world, many people confuse for Islam and Hindu, I didn’t know anything about it, and I know a lot about faith. I’m talking to people of many different faiths about what they believe and why, and how it gets them through the ups and downs. I think part of the challenge we have here in the US is we just don’t know about one another’s culture and religions, and that does fuel a lot of ignorance.

I want to just bring people to the table to have these conversations about their own personal journey, because it’s missing in the marketplace, so to speak. If we have a faith conversation, it’s a debate. I’m trying to prove myself, instead of just-

Mitch Matthews: Exactly, “I want to show you that I’m right.”

Paula Faris: Sitting there and listening … Exactly, and in the mainstream media, we really don’t … I think every network would readily admit they don’t want to get too controversial. You mention God or Allah or Jesus, and we don’t really want to go there, but so this is a platform, a special platform where we can give people, influencers and news makers here at ABC, we can give them an opportunity to talk about their faith and what it means to them. Everyone’s journey is so different, everybody’s journey is different.

Mitch Matthews: It is. I love, you know it’s obviously a longer format, so what you can do 30 minutes, 40 minutes is you can really allow someone to dive in and be real. I think you also put people at ease, which that creates that safe place for them to be real and authentic, and it’s a beautiful thing. I think to your point too, it’s that whole thing of being curious, being honoring, because dream-think-doers know we’ve talked with a wide variety of people, wide variety of faith backgrounds, and it’s all about honoring. It’s all about being curious, and it’s that whole thing of being able to say, “Let’s learn from each other, let’s love well.”

I love that. All right, now we’re time traveling, we’re back to today.

Paula Faris: We’ve been doing a lot.

Mitch Matthews: I know, right?

Paula Faris: Can we go back to when I was younger and I slept more, please? [crosstalk 00:23:24] That’s where I want to go, time travel.

Mitch Matthews: [crosstalk 00:23:26] up in here, I love it. Now, you’re taking that risk, you’ve had those conversations, you walked away from these coveted positions into something that was pretty nebulous. Again, a lot of dream-think-doers can probably completely identify with that, they either have done that or they know that that’s probably on the horizon for them. I always love to celebrate a little bit of the journey too, because I would imagine it’s been messy, looking at it from a 30,000-foot perspective it’s fun to [crosstalk 00:23:58] all of that. I’ve got to imagine that it’s been enriching in a lot of ways, maybe in surprising ways. I’m not going to ask you for your favorite interview, because that would be like picking your favorite kid, [crosstalk 00:24:12]-

Paula Faris: No, my favorite interview is [Bo Schenbeckler 00:24:13].

Mitch Matthews: Really?

Paula Faris: That happened years ago, when I was working in sports. I’m from Michigan, born and raised just around the corner from Ann Arbor, which is the University of Michigan. Bo Schenbeckler is a legendary coach, I was indoctrinated into Michigan football, so for me, that will always be my favorite interview. [crosstalk 00:24:31] Peaceton’s Past by Bo Schenbeckler was a famous, respected, revered football coach, and I’ll always remember that moment.

Mitch Matthews: That’s awesome, [crosstalk 00:24:42] that’s when you’re like [crosstalk 00:24:43]-

Paula Faris: There you go, that was back when I was working in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Mitch Matthews: “I’m doing this for a job!” That’s great.

Paula Faris: Yes, exactly.

Mitch Matthews: I love it.

Paula Faris: But Chris Hemsworth is probably up there too.

Mitch Matthews: Really? How so? Just because of hotness?

Paula Faris: Hello, it’s Thor, hello. Come on, Mitch.

Mitch Matthews: From what I’ve heard, the guy is just a great guy, he’s just a great guy.

Paula Faris: He has a great personality, he does actually. That’s something that makes him so charming. He is this bigger-than-life persona, and he’s absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.

Mitch Matthews: I hadn’t noticed that.

Paula Faris: He’s a loving husband, three kids, adores his wife, they’re madly in love, and he’s just one of the kindest human beings on the planet.

Mitch Matthews: And he has 2% body fat? That’s just not, like 

Paula Faris: Maybe one. He’s hilarious, he’s a funny dude. He’s just charming, he seems like he’s a good person.

Mitch Matthews: He is, that’s awesome. I love it, I love it. I mean, that’s the, just again, the wide spectrum of people that you’ve gotten in your career to be able to interview, but let’s talk about Journeys of Faith. Here, you sit down with a Chris Hemsworth or someone from the royal family or whatever, that’s cool, but I [crosstalk 00:25:55]-

Paula Faris: Yeah, for Good Morning America, yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mitch Matthews: But these Journeys of Faith conversations, oftentimes you’re having them face-to-face in the person’s home or in the person’s office, or in a wide variety of locations, all of that. What would you say for you personally, from your Journeys of Faith conversations, what’s been one that’s been a standout, whether it surprised you or something that it touched you, what would you say is one of your favorite moments from the Journeys of Faith?

Paula Faris: You’re asking me who my favorite kid is,  you said we weren’t going to do that.

Mitch Matthews: I won’t say, “What’s your favorite?” 

Paula Faris: We were not going to-

Mitch Matthews:  stand out,

Paula Faris: Jay Williams was one that really stood out, he works at ESPN, he was a Duke standout All-American, supposed to be like the next Michael Jordan. Drafted by the Bulls, his rookie year he gets into a motorcycle accident and it ends his NBA career. His was really profound in the sense that he stopped asking, “Why me, God?” and then realized, “Why not me?” He realized there was something else for him. Like he saw one thing, but God saw something else, and when he finally embraced that, that was really powerful.

Another one that really stands out to me, she’s a colleague of mine, she works at PBS, she’s a Muslim, she’s a female, and just hearing her perspective on the Muslim community and what it feels like at this moment. I think, you know she’s like, “A lot of people, they have preconceived notions about the religion of Islam,” and yes, she does have some issues with the religion, particularly when you go to a mosque it’s gender-specific, men on one side, women on the other. She does have some issues with her religion, but she’s trying to change it and make it a little more progressive.

She said, “You know, we have an idea of what we think this is about, but in reality, you probably never sat down and talked to a Muslim, you’ve never talked to someone of the Islamic faith.” That really got me thinking. I want to hear people’s personal stories, but I also want it to be encouraging and provocative and thought-provoking. I don’t have a favorite child, but those two stand out for various reasons.

Mitch Matthews: I love it.

Paula Faris: It’s important that I do these in person. Not all of them can be done in person, but all of them this season have been done in person because I think you can’t really … Faith is something so deeply personal to all of us, and that means something different to each of us, that when you have these conversations and people are being very raw and honest and sometimes emotional, you want to be able to look them in the eye and continue to have that conversation. That’s a much more effective platform when you’re next to somebody, not to take away from this interview which is being done over the phone, but especially in this space, because they can be very vulnerable.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, and they’ve got [crosstalk 00:29:03]-

Paula Faris: When you talk about faith, you talk about anything, anything, and everything.

Mitch Matthews: It’s great, you know dream-think-doers, go listen to the one with Jay Williams, because literally it’s funny, I wondered if that was one of your favorites because you could hear it in the interview. Like you can hear when he said the, “Why not me?” I can remember hearing from you go, “Oh my gosh.” I know you listen to enough podcasts where it’s like, “Is this scripted?” Like there’s no humanity in it or it just seems so programmed, whereas, at that moment, you’re like, “Oh no, she is, that hit you.” Or with Amna, there were some tears shed in that conversation, because she was being very real, and you could tell, obviously her faith means the world to her, but she’s had to pay a price for that, and she’s still wrestling with that. It’s just [crosstalk 00:29:46]-

Paula Faris: Yet we’re a country that was founded on religious freedom, and yet some people feel that they feel very visible yet very invisible and persecuted.

Mitch Matthews: Right, well it’s kind of 

Paula Faris: Regardless of how we feel about that like we still need to respect where they’re coming from, even though we don’t have to agree with them. It’s all about showing people the love of God, right?

Mitch Matthews: Absolutely.

Paula Faris: Regardless of what they believe or not.

Mitch Matthews: It’s only, you know I think relationship and trust come from having conversations. I think that that’s between people, but I think that’s also about your faith. I think sometimes people are afraid to learn about other religions, other faith backgrounds, other belief systems because they’re afraid that-

Paula Faris: You’re exploring.

Mitch Matthews: Their own faith would be rocked, or their children’s faith would be rocked. It’s like it’s not really faith then, right?

Paula Faris: Nope.

Mitch Matthews: To me, it’s one of those that we should be able to explore and honor other faith backgrounds, other 

Paula Faris: Completely.

Mitch Matthews: Because it’s the whole thing of like, doesn’t it help us know them, and at the same time be able to share God’s love and what we understand about God?

Paula Faris: Completely, and you have to be able to … I mean, you see it routinely in the Bible, you know just questioning God, “Why do I believe this? Do I only believe what I believe because I was raised that way?” You have to be able to explain the hope that is within you. You do that by pushing in, by asking those questions. I have only grown in my faith, and my faith has deepened by listening to other people’s faiths. It’s nothing that we should be, it’s not that we’re exploring other religions and searching for something else, no, I’m just having a conversation. I know what I believe, and this is only strengthening it. It doesn’t mean I don’t have questions about my faith. God’s big, I’ve got a lot of questions.

Mitch Matthews: Right, exactly. 

Paula Faris: And that’s okay.

Mitch Matthews: If my brain can get around God, he’s not God, right?  It’s like, if there are still some mysteries, then we’re not talking about God here.

Paula Faris: Yeah, my brother-in-law, who is a believer, he was an atheist for a very long time, but he likes to put it, “If I could explain everything about God, then God would be too small.”

Mitch Matthews: That’s so true.

Paula Faris: Your sentiment was very similar to what he just said.

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, absolutely. All right, we could talk for literally hours, I’m just and I love the mission of this, and I believe in it. Also, I want to, as we start to wrap this up I want to ask one last question. That is especially for that listener right now, who maybe they’re feeling that nudge, maybe they’ve got an essence of a dream, an essence of a calling. Again, we’ve got a lot of successful people, so sometimes it’s like they might be sitting in the position they’ve always thought they wanted, which can be shocking. That can be unnerving to say, “Wait, this is what I always thought I wanted, or at least what I’ve wanted up to this point in my life, but now it’s feeling like …” It’s almost like, as I talk about in one of my books, it’s like every dream has a backdoor, which means 

Paula Faris: A trap door?

Mitch Matthews: Yeah, a trap door, sometimes. It’s like, “Wait for a second, there’s something on the backside of this I didn’t even know existed.” What would you say to that person that’s maybe wrestling with, do they start to take a step out? Maybe it’s not a blind leap of faith, but maybe it’s starting to have those conversations, or maybe starting to write down a plan, or starting to take some steps, what would you say to that person that’s wrestling with it a little bit?

Paula Faris: Well, I think you have to listen. For me, I really didn’t have any choice, God could do what he needed to do to get my attention, and he clearly did through that seven months of hell, as I put it. Yeah, I know what that’s like, you have a dream job and this is what you’ve worked for, and everyone thinks that you’re so successful but yet either you feel empty and depleted or you feel like everyone’s getting your leftovers. That’s really where I was, and my work had become my narcotic of choice, and I needed another hit of achievement, I needed another hit of self-worth. God really had to get my attention, so I just had to press into the fear, and some of you out there need to press into that fear of the unknown, but you know God’s trying to get your attention.

I’m like, “God, I know you called me to do this vocationally, but if you did, why is everyone getting my leftovers?” It’s because my identity became wrapped up in what I did, this vocational calling had completely consumed me, to the fact that it was all about what I did and not who I was. I needed to dig back, and when I stepped away, it was tough. I had an identity crisis because I walked away from my job and I didn’t know who I was anymore. That was a tough pill to swallow because I was that one preaching, “Oh, I’m not defined by what I do, I’m defined by who I am.” When the rubber met the road, it was not true.

I step away, I don’t know who I am anymore, there are these feelings of guilt, why is it not enough to be a mom and a wife and a child of God? It’s just been such a season of introspection but expects that. You have to expect that that might come, you might have a bit of an identity crisis, and that’s because we’re putting all of our worth in our vocational calling and not just this general calling, and that’s just to love God and love people, and the vocation is just the vehicle by which we do it. Vocations can change, mine is branching, my branch is branching out a little bit as well.

You have to give yourself the permission and the grace to let that branch out, and just because this is what you’re good at doesn’t mean that you have these inherent vocational gifts, that doesn’t mean that you should typecast yourself, and the only way that that can manifest itself is in a broadcast capacity or a nurse. My husband, a great example, he has this amazing vocational gift of leadership. He played basketball in high school, was the third-leading scorer in high school history, was the captain of his basketball team, and then he became a basketball coach for six years, so leadership.

Now he is in real estate, and he’s leading young men and women. He oversees one of the largest Manhattan commercial real estate firms where he’s overseeing 150 people. His particular vocational gifts have manifested themselves in a different capacity, whether it was a player, whether it was a coach, whether it’s a manager, he’s a leader. You have to give yourself the permission to try something, and you know when God’s trying to get your attention, but that doesn’t mean it’s scary. It’s not scary, just take that step of faith.

Some guidance that I got from a gentleman who works in the intelligence community, who said he felt really called by God to go into the intelligence community, I was like, “What does that sound like?” We talk about calling all the time, like what the heck does that mean? I heard Steven Furtick say, “You don’t have to find your calling, it’ll find you,” and I was like, “Okay, that’s confusing.” This gentleman, he worked in the defense and intelligence community for decades, and he said vocational calling is three things, it’s A, you’re inherently curious about it, it’s B, you’re inherently good at it, and it’s C, you have people that you trust that is speaking life into that.

For me, with broadcasting, I’ve always been inherently curious. I’m a bulldog, my nickname growing up was Paula 20 Questions, I had my high school teacher and my college professors that were encouraging me to go in this direction, and that’s kind of what vocational calling sounds like. It doesn’t mean it’s not scary though, it doesn’t mean it’s not scary. Fear is part of it, you can’t allow your fear to paralyze you from walking into your destiny.

Mitch Matthews: Well, and I’m glad you’ve also allowed your call to evolve, because [crosstalk 00:37:41]-

Paula Faris: You have to. It’s different branches, it can branch out.

Mitch Matthews: Absolutely, I love it. 

Paula Faris: I’m actually writing a book on it, but-

Mitch Matthews: Good.

Paula Faris: You should have to give yourself permission that you can do more with this vocational gift. It’s not monolithic, that’s not the word I want, but it shouldn’t be so limiting, there are many branches on a tree. As long as those branches stay rooted in who you are, which is loving God and loving people, that vocational calling can go in a myriad of different directions. Give yourself that permission, but always stay rooted, you have to stay rooted.

Mitch Matthews: So good. Again, we could go for another three hours, but I know you’ve got to race off to Brooklyn for an assignment, so Paula, thanks so much for taking the time and for what you’re doing.

Paula Faris: My pleasure.  Thank you again, I really appreciate you encouraging me about the podcast, and really supporting it, and thank you to everyone for checking it out. If you have any recommendations, you can hit me up on Twitter as to who I should have on the podcast.

Mitch Matthews: Awesome.

Paula Faris: Interesting people, paradoxical people, I always say my dream guest is Snoop Dogg, so the people that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with faith as well. Hit me up, and I really appreciate the support.

Mitch Matthews: Awesome, thanks, Paula.

Paula Faris: Thank you, Mitch, I appreciate it.

Mitch Matthews: All right, gang. What’d you think? What stood out to you from Paula’s story?  

I’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below and let me know what resonated!   

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