Laura Story didn’t plan on writing and singing songs that would be heard by millions of people throughout the world.
In fact, she was content if her friends—and only her friends—enjoyed them.
“I never set out to write songs that other people would know,” she says today. “I remember in college sharing a few of my songs just with a couple of friends and them saying, ‘Oh, that’s really encouraging to me’ and that being enough.”
God, though, had other plans for Story’s music. She received acclaim in 2006 for her song Indescribable, which was included on Chris Tomlin’s album and nominated for a Dove Award. In 2009 Story received a nomination for Bless the Lord while winning the inspirational album of the year award for Great God Who Saves. Then, in 2011, Story reached the pinnacle of music award success when she won a Grammy for Blessings (for best contemporary Christian song), which also nabbed a Dove Award.
Still, with 15-plus Dove nominations, seven wins, a Grammy, and more than 100 million YouTube streams for her music, Story remains humble.
“My job is to offer up my gifts to God—and he’s going to be in charge of the scope,” Story, who also serves as a worship leader at Perimeter Church in Atlanta, said. “He’s going to be in charge of whether that song is heard by one person or by 1 million people.”
Story is scheduled to speak at the Ladies Session of the SBTC’s Empower Conference in Irving, where she will give her testimony while discussing the theme of her new book So Long, Normal: Living and Loving the Free Fall of Faith.
She wrote the book during the pandemic while feeling anxious about a fast-changing, chaotic world.
“For the first couple of weeks of the pandemic, I was glued to media and felt like everything was falling apart—and it was in a lot of ways,” she said. “But early on, the Lord began to kind of call me back to his word.”
Story says she learned two major lessons during that time. First, she says, God “is completely in control, even when normal seems to be slipping away.” Second, she says, God often performs an amazing work out of an “unprecedented situation”—whether in scripture or in the modern world.
“It always begins with God calling his people out of what’s familiar and out of what’s comfortable,” she said. “And that’s always the first step of the journey. And so it was neat to kind of consider these ideas of: OK, so everything around me seems to be falling apart. How might this be step one in God doing something tremendous in me and through me?
“How do we continue to be women who are sturdy, and women who live lives of peace rather than anxiety in the midst of a world that is constantly changing and constantly feeling more and more like chaos?” she asked. “… Just because our world these days is constantly changing, our souls don’t have to be in such turmoil. We have a God who is unchanging.”
Story urges women to ask a series of questions:
- What are the things in my life that look drastically different than what I thought they would?
- Is my hope based on God fixing my problems the way that I think he should, or is my hope based on a God whose plans are bigger than ours—and who uses that brokenness to do something significant?
God’s plans, Story noted, could be “greater than what we’ve been asking or imagining.”
Story has learned these lessons by experience. She and her husband, Martin, had been married less than two years when, in 2006, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He survived, following surgery, yet lost part of his short-term memory and vision.
“What we’ve seen as we’ve walked through the past 16 years now of him living with a brain injury, and our family living with a disability—is that there has been a beauty about us learning to trust God in a deeper way, embracing the fact that our lives look different and our family looks different because we believe that this is part of the unique work God is doing in and through us,” Story said.
She has seen this lesson played out in her songwriting.
“There are some songs that I’ve thought, ‘Oh, this is gonna be huge,’—and it ends up not really doing anything,” she said. “And then other songs that I just assume would have kind of a smaller scope—but God has taken them and used them in bigger ways than I envisioned.”