Here is a summary of our first podcast interview with Jo Saxton! Subscribe today:
Welcome to A Sojourner’s Truth podcast: Conversations for a Changing Culture! I’m your host Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, and I’m glad you’re joining us for Season One where the theme is: Our Stories:
Natasha: Hello Beautiful People!
I am thrilled to welcome my first guest to A Sojourner’s Truth Podcast. Leader, pastor, and author Jo Saxton. How are you my dear friend? Thank you so much for joining us.
JO SAXTON: Thank you so much for having me. That’s such a gracious introduction.
Natasha: It’s wonderful to have you. What I love, especially about the people I’m inviting to the table up throughout this season, is our willingness to share our stories, and I have invited people that have directly or indirectly impacted my life. Jo stands out as a leader, influencer, and mobilizer of women.
Jo’s short biography: Jo Saxton is an author, speaker, leadership coach, and visionary. Born to Nigerian parents and raised in London, England, Jo brings a multi-cultural and international perspective to leadership. She has served on staff in multiple churches in the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, Jo co-hosts the popular podcast Lead Stories: Tales of Leadership and Life with Steph O’Brien. She is also the founder of the Ezer Collective, an initiative that creates intensives and experiences to invest in women who lead. Jo’s most recent book is called, The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For.
Jo and her husband, Chris, live in Minneapolis with their two daughters. She loves Starbucks, running, her people, and the everyday stuff, like good music, good food, and good books, and Target. She really, really loves Target!
This season of the podcast, we are talking about our stories, and to guide our conversation, I’m using the outline of my upcoming book, A Sojourner’s Truth: Choosing Freedom and Courage in a Divided World. We will talk about the FORMATION of Our Stories, the HISTORY of Our Stories, Our Stories in the WILDERNESS, and Our REDEMPTION Stories.
Jo is here to talk today about the formation of our stories because what happens in our formative years really has an impact on who we become, how we grow into adulthood, what we do, how we see ourselves and how others view us. As a matter of setting the stage for our conversation, I want to read an excerpt from the book.
The Negro is the child of two cultures—Africa and America. The problem is that in the search for wholeness all too many Negros seek to embrace only one side of their natures.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
READ ALONG as Natasha reads excerpt from Part One: Formation – “Beginning have meaning. Beginnings reveal our purpose and value of our lives by shaping us into the people we are to become…(pg. 7).
Thank you for your willingness to tell us your story.
JO SAXTON shares about being the child of divorced parents, being the child of Nigerian immigrants, and being born in London, England. Jo spent several years in foster care and was raised by a white family. Her foster mom was fantastic, and she did everything possible so Jo would celebrate the person that she was!
Natasha: When reading your book, The Dream of You, I just remember your very public and ugly break down, with the proclamation, “I want my daddy! I want my daddy,” and how that was such a truth-telling and heart wrenching moment and confession for you. It wasn’t until then, that you started to heal.
JO SAXTON: I don’t think I could articulate that I was so defined by my father’s absence because my father I only met three times. The first time, I was twelve. I always felt like I didn’t have a father. I didn’t even have the privilege of an argument. One of the interesting things when we have had circumstances in all our stories where something has happened, and we didn’t have a say in it, there is a powerlessness which means you can never say what you want because this is just how life is.
Natasha: Early in my book, I write a lot about my experiences with death. When death is constantly knocking at your door, it is easy to lose sight of things, to focus your attention on everything you’ve lost. That can be a difficult life and lonely existence, or you can really think about the things that remain for you to hold on to.
JO SAXTON: That was a folk in the moment road that you had, to have your formative years so defined by those tough circumstances. It can be a permanent cloud. Grief is the flashlight in the dark parts of our hearts; it is the counselor to our over reactions. It is the truth-teller. For you to choose life as a discipline even, is a really powerful thing.
Natasha: Why do you think it’s important that we share our stories? You’ve read my story and wrote an endorsement for the book. Thank you! You said that A Sojourner’s Truth is “a must-read but also a must learn from!” Why did you say that?
JO SAXTON: Telling our stories humanize us. What we have learned through history is if we allow people to be defined in less than human terms then, you don’t care about how they are treated. Through our stories we share and without stories, we lose touch with our common humanity and we also lose touch with our distinctives as well.
I’ve lived in America for fourteen and a half year now, and I came to America with a lens of history that I learned growing up in England. I’m going to be honest, some of that was more honest than some of the things I’ve heard living here.
I was struck by A Sojourner’s Truth because it is not often that I hear the story of an African American woman as the story of America. When I read your story, it was so refreshing in the context of space and in the context all of culture too, because we are both women of color but our histories and our stories are very different.
Natasha: One of things I write about in the community chapter of the book is that we each have a responsibility to create the types of communities we need to sustain ourselves on this faith and life journey. How do you do that?
JO SAXTON: When I moved to the states, I had to find new ways of creating community because I grew up in London. That change and need made me bold enough to reach out to people. I remember about four or five years ago, I thought to myself, I don’t know enough women of color. This is not right; this doesn’t feel good to me, and so I basically reached out to people and said, “We’re gonna be friends!” I don’t know that I gave you, or Latasha Morrison, or Amena Brown an option.
I don’t do this island, isolating stuff. I’ve been raised by a community of people, so I never expected to know everything about my kids. My husband and I are just two people. We need somebody else catching them out here doing all these things.
My kids need community, and I need that in every aspect of my calling, in every aspect of my walk. I can’t do anything by myself. I need people.
Natasha: I know you were working on this initiative called The Ezer Collective. Is that one place where you are trying to build community?
JO SAXTON: As I began to speak, travel and teach around the states, I would always meet women who would ask me, “How do we do this?” Did you have a mentor? They were tired of trying to figure out what it means to work at a call in on their own strength. There was a sense of loneliness and isolation that made these women second guess themselves at every turn.
So, I wanted to offer women like that a chance to get together and unapologetically be the women that God designed so they could walk into the room or be the only woman in the room and not feel they had to edit themselves or dumb down their leadership. I wanted to have a space where movement of women could go back into that world safe and secure knowing that when you’ve got family, a community, a sisterhood with you, then it takes the edge off so many things.
Natasha: What is the one truth you can’t let go?
JO SAXTON: It’s a combination of a couple things: One truth is: I’m fearfully wonderfully made. And I’m made in the image of God. Those would be the two things. I am made in God’s image, that determines my potential, my purpose, and my value.
Natasha: Jo, thank you again for joining us. Connect with Jo!
Website – www.josaxton.com Purchase The Dream of You.
Natasha: How do you choose freedom and courage in your daily life?
JO SAXTON: I don’t know that I’m always aware of being courageous. I don’t necessarily feel it, but I think what’s been helpful for me is knowing that I don’t have to feel courageous to be it. I choose freedom when I choose to celebrate, to risk, and dream with God again, when I invite him to keep stretching and pushing the envelope of what he wants to do in my life, then I’m choosing freedom. I think I choose courage and freedom when what I do in this world, isn’t just for me. One of the ways I keep on walking in and choosing freedom is to make sure that I’m not living according to the lies. I enjoy the life God has given me.
Natasha: Jo, thank you so much for taking time to share with us today.
Let’s continue the conversation. Join in by commenting on the blog, subscribing to the syndication channels, and using the #ASojournerTruth hashtag on: Facebook (Don’t miss the news – “Like” and click “Following” to “See First”), Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe to my YouTube channel. You can also connect with me through my website at www.NatashaSRobinson.com.
Until next time, “Tell the truth, people!”