This one-of-two parts Dinner Conversations episode is focused on the things gleaned through the real-life friendship of best-selling Women of Faith author/speaker Patsy Clairmont, comedienne Anita Renfroe and life coach and author Jan Silvious. Hosts Mark Lowry and Andrew Greer facilitate the table talk as the wise trio relay messages of hope through conversations about cultivating close relationships, details to disclose (and not to disclose!) in a tell-all world and why drama.
TRANSCRIPT FROM THE SHOW
Mark: Today’s episode is about friendship. I love the topic because as a single person, my friends, my close, close friends in Houston where I grew up, are my family. We’ve got some wonderful guests today.
Andrew: Yeah, we’re talking with three ladies who are really close friends, best friends, with each other — Anita Renfroe, a super funny comedian; Patsy Clairmont, one of the wisest women in the world and one of my close friends, so that was fun for me to have her on; and Jan Silvious, who is a life coach. They’re talking to us about how friendship literally is the support of our life through the mountains—
Mark: And the valleys and the hilltops. It’s a great conversation, and there’s one seat left at the table. It’s yours. Let’s join the conversation.
Mark: Why does the world need more women’s stuff?
Anita: We just keep demanding, and we’re women.
Andrew: Your friendship, how did that inspire that in the beginning?
Anita: We were friends separately to each other. Like Patsy and Jan have known each other a while, and I’ve known Jan but I didn’t know Patsy until I was booked to be a part of Women of Faith. Then, I was in the middle of a crisis in our family with one of my kids, and these two held my hand through that whole thing. And they never got tired of loving me or praying for me. I’d get on the plane and be thinking, How am I going to make it through this weekend? And my plane would touchdown, whatever city it was, and there would be texts. Ding, ding, ding. My phone would go off. “We’re in room 237. We’re waiting for you. We have snacks.” They were not only there but they were eager to enter in to that with me, and they loved me through it, walked me through it, and it cemented something between us. I think sometimes you can be with people and not truly know them, and when the knowledge hits, then you have to make a decision, Are we in this for the long haul or not? And they said yes, and it’s been a blessing.
Patsy: And we’ve never been sorry for saying yes.
Jan: No. Well, we needed each other. It was a we need each other.
Patsy: There was reciprocity in all of it.
Jan: Absolutely. Always reciprocity, so it wasn’t a matter of thinking, Well, poor dear.
Anita: Can I say that every time you use the word reciprocity I think of viscosity like oil in a car?
Mark: But you were on Good Morning America for how long?
Anita: About a year. I had regular spots over the course of a year, not like every day. No, they couldn’t pay me for that.
Mark: What brought you to that party was?
Anita: “The Mom Song”
Mark: And you wrote the one you’re about to do.
Anita: Well, everybody’s got health issues these days, so I thought I could provide a little help, so here we go. And I don’t really play the ukulele. Andrew made me do this, so here we go. He thinks because he plays so good that he should showcase other people playing badly.
Andrew: So well.
Anita: Stop it, grammar police. Here we go.
[Anita Renfroe singing “Fiber”]
Are you feeling kinda out of sorts
And you don’t know exactly what’s wrong?
You’re not quite feeling up to par
But it’s nothing you can put your finger on
Are you moody, lethargic, feeling blue
Lacking vigor and vitality
Life has lost its joie de vivre
And you can’t reclaim your youthful energy
Are you hairless, friendless, you lost your dog
Your family moved and didn’t let you know?
Well, I’m here to say you’re suffering can end today
So here’s my word of hope
All you really need is fiber
Fiber’s what you need
When you’re full of fiber, my friend,
You are full indeed
All you really need is fiber
Jamie Lee Curtis can tell you why
And give you a camera so you can share
You can find it in a liquid, yogurt, tablet, or gummy
To help with the trouble you keep having with your tummy
Fiber can change your life
And I know this without a doubt
Because, honey, if you’ve got enough fiber in you
You can pretty much work it all out
Anita: Get you some fiber, y’all.
Project Beautiful Sponsorship Message:
Mark: Dinner Conversations is presented by Project Beautiful.
Andrew: A passionate community committed to saving innocent lives from the terrors of modern day slavery. Project Beautiful has intercepted over 12,000 vulnerable people from the frontlines of sex trafficking, and today, you can help. Your partnership pledge of $30 a month will help save three lives each other from entering a life of slavery through Project Beautiful’s sophisticated interception strategies. And if you sign up today, you will receive a special partnership package filled with exclusive show items straight from our table to your doorstep.
Mark: Will you partner with Andrew and me? Go to projectbeautiful.org/dinnerconversations for more information.
Andrew: If we don’t help, who will? Project Beautiful, because every life is beautiful and worth fighting for.
Mark: I don’t mind drama as long as I’m not the center of it. You go to a movie and there’s no drama, how bored would you be? You’d want your money back. And I look at life as this big drama, and how boring would it be if you went through your whole life and there was no drama?
Patsy: I think often we believe that life should be all highs and maybe a low once in a while, but we’re seeing more like that type of graph. But if you look at Moses’ life and you chart that, he started here and then he went there and then he went up there and then he went down there and then he went over there—
Mark: He needed a GPS.
Anita: He did, for sure.
Patsy: And by the time you get done, the map looks like a tangle of knots, but that’s more consistent to how life is. There’s lots of interruptions. There’s lots of joyous moments. There’s lots of sorrow. So you’re right — without the drama, where would we be?
Mark: It would be boring.
Andrew: But it takes a great deal of generosity and grace with yourself, don’t you think, to be the center of the drama. There are times, whether we choose that or not—
Anita: Yeah, I didn’t have a choice.
Andrew: We become the center, and I think, for me, it takes a great deal of open-heartedness to invite people — or to allow people, not even to invite— Like you guys just happened to be around Anita in this time, but then, Anita, for you to allow them to surround that time with their soothing balm and all that kind of stuff, that’s going outside of our normal comfort zone, right, because we do like this I’m OK…
Jan: I’m OK. I can handle this.
Anita: But there was a survivability factor that was involved. We were required to stand and deliver and give encouragement to other women in that same time when I was like desperately needing it, so if I had not had them to say, “Come on in.” They would let me vent, they would pray with me, they would give me wise counsel, and then the next morning, we’re standing up in front of thousands of women and I had some resources available. Because, you know, when you’re standing and giving out of deficit, the Lord has to show up. He does. And they would always take my little empty tank and put a little in there so I had something to draw from the next day, and God is always good. You know. You’ve had to stand on stage when you don’t feel like it either.
Mark: I know.
Anita: But then He shows up. It’s a miracle every time.
Mark: It’ll bless you too.
Anita: It does. It does.
Patsy: Yeah, because you find out it’s not all about us, and we need those reminders. We believe it, but we forget it. That does something for our faith.
Mark: We’re blessed also to have the luxury of sitting on the back porch and thinking about things on our days off. A lot of people have to teach school all day, come home and cook for their families, and all those kinds of things. I think our job is to deduce the unfathomable into sound bites so they can grab a hold of it and get through the day. Have you had times when you didn’t believe any of this?
Patsy: I’ve had times when I’ve stepped back and said to myself, What is it you believe? What is it you believe, girlfriend, because right now you’re looking a little wobbly? So it is a good thing to go back in and to weigh out your heart before the Lord.
Jan: And also the feeling of what if it’s not true. What if it’s not true? And yet, to come back to if it’s not, we’re all in trouble, and so I’m just going to believe that it is and then see the manifestation of those small ways that God shows up. And if it’s not true, there is way too much circumstantial consequence.
Anita: If it’s not true, I spent a lot of time worrying about what a lot of people think.
Mark: Isn’t that the truth?
Jan: We worry about a lot of things if it’s not true.
Anita: I know. Well, we grew up independent fundamental Baptists, so we’re still recovering.
Jan: Well then, you’ve just got stuff to worry about just for the heck of it.
Mark: But if it’s not true, I personally am very grateful that I grew up that way because they crammed the Word of God down your throat. That was to their great detriment because I found out through that Word that He’s a lot nicer than they told me. That grace really is big and deep and wide and vast and all-inclusive, and it’s amazing.
[Mark Lowry, Recovering Fundamentalist]
Mark: Did you know that I’ve heard someone say one time that you spend the first 40 years of your life for success and your second 40 years for significance? When I did leave the vocal band and took that year off, I really took time to read the red part of the Bible. Have you ever read the red part of the Bible? It’ll mess you up. And you know what I found out? I found out we’ve been hanging around the wrong people. We’ve got to start hanging around some more prostitutes. Jesus hung out with the outcasts. Jesus hung out with the freaks and failures and the vagabonds. The only people He ever chewed out were the religious folks. I read Matthew 23, and I put my name in there. I thought, What would I do if Jesus looked at me and said, “Mark, you’ve gone clear around the world making disciples, and you’ve made them twice as fit for hell as yourself.” Or He said, “Mark, you’re polished on the outside, but on the inside, you’re full of dead men’s bones.” That’d scare me. That’s the reason now I’m a recovering fundamentalist. Really. You know why? And I tell you, it’s Bill Gaither’s fault because he introduced me to all you people. As long as I was in my little petri dish of independent Baptist world, I was fine. From 1980 to 1988, I thought we were right and all y’all were wrong, and then I met Methodists who love Jesus because when I met Bill Gaither, he introduced me. Well, he’s not a Baptist either and he loves Jesus. That freaked me out. I met Catholics who love the Lord. I met Nazarenes who love Christ. I met Pentecostals who love God, who could do more than shout — they actually cared about people. I’ll never forget the day I met a saved Democrat.
Project Beautiful Sponsorship Message:
Compelled by the words of Jesus, Project Beautiful has intercepted over 12,000 lives from the front lines of human trafficking. “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” Matthew 25:40
Mark: Dinner Conversations is presented by Project Beautiful, which helps bring young people home from a life of sex trafficking but before they get into it. This is incredible. And there were five young ladies who were really saved in 2015.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s right. April 2015, Nepal was ravished by an earthquake, and so these five young ladies, Dolma, Fursang, Maya, Tika, and Sayg, all found themselves in a place of destitution and loneliness because their village, which was already impoverished, was unable to recover from the trauma of that earthquake. They were simply looking for a way to survive, to provide for themselves, so they were looking across the border for some opportunities, and a trafficker presented them under the guise of this amazing employment opportunity in some of the bordering countries.
Slavery is not a thing of the past. Today, through the promise of financial security, girls are being lured into the horrors of human trafficking.
Andrew: And so the trafficker asked them to meet them, which we hear this is common, at the border so that he could then take them across the border—
Mark: Or she.
Andrew: That’s right.
Mark: A lot of women are doing it too.
Andrew: He or she to take them across the border to their new employment opportunity, but in fact, what the trafficker was asking them to do was to meet them there so that they could take them over into India to be trafficked.
What if they could be rescued before they were trafficked?
Mark: So will you partner with Andrew and me today to help bring the innocent home through Project Beautiful for just $30 a month? You can save three people a year. Bring them home. Go to projectbeautiful.org/dinnerconversations.
Andrew: If we don’t help, who will? Project Beautiful, because every life is beautiful and worth fighting for.
Mark: If it wasn’t true, I’ve had a blast believing that it is.
Anita: Right, still a great way to live.
Mark: Yes, but it’s more than that. It’s not a list of rules to live anymore; it’s I’m in love with this Jesus who loved the broken and the outcast and the disenfranchised. Whenever you draw a line in the sand and say, “It’s us and them,” look across the line. He’ll always be standing with the other side.
Patsy: I love that He is for the broken and disenfranchised because it makes space in grace for us. We forget how much we are in that same grace and mercy.
Andrew: We were talking earlier about this culture where we’re actually allowed, and Jan, you as a therapist and life coach, we have the luxury of time and finances to actually sit around and ruminate about our problems.
Anita: I’d like to time out for just a second. As a mom and a grandma, I don’t have that much time to sit around and ruminate about anything, so I’d just like to take myself out of that.
Mark: He and I. Those that are like Jesus at this table who remained single like Paul said to.
Patsy: And I remember earlier you said about not having to cook for people. I’m thinking, Oh, really.
Anita: I was chained to the kitchen from December 20 to the 31.
Mark: Well, you know what? That doesn’t apply to you all at all then.
Anita: I want to ruminate.
Andrew: I’ll take this back to counselor terms. You want to be sent to your room alone, don’t you? So for me, I’ve learned this in recovery — I say I, not us — but I have had time to ruminate and to discuss my issues. We’ve talked about this. The first time I met you ladies we ruminated and discussed. While you’re busy not ruminating on your troubles, you definitely took time on mine.
Anita: You ruminate for all of us.
Andrew: That’s probably true. It’s interesting in our culture, I think, where we have the ability to over share in a way we never have before, through social media, etc. and discovering that line. We’ve all done this from a platform. We want to be transparent, we want to show our wounds and our weaknesses in order to help us and others realize their potential, but what’s the difference between divulging the details for the sake of maybe salaciousness or for drama or for—
Mark: Exhibitionism. When is it showing your scars versus exhibitionism?
Andrew: Sharing your story.
Anita: That’s a great question. You have to maintain your sense of privacy. When I first started out in comedy, I had a rule, which was I wouldn’t tell any stories about my kids until three years after they had happened, and it was a discipline. You know what I found out? Three years, it didn’t seem funny to me anymore. In three years, they would’ve been past that stage and they wouldn’t mind me talking about it. Well, what it turned out to be was that I found out I didn’t need to talk about them at all; I could just talk about myself.
Andrew: That’s a deep well of humor.
Anita: I was going to say, “Dude, you don’t really know me. If you think it’s a deep well, I’ve got a shallow end.” I always find that if I’m saying something and I’m resistant to saying it, it’s normally the Holy Spirit. Because if it’s something I don’t want to share and I find myself sharing it, it’s like, Whoa, I didn’t mean to do that. I feel that same way about conversations. If you’re going into a conversation where you need to confront someone, if you’re going there resistantly, it’s probably something good that needs to be said because you’re not jonesing for it like, I can’t wait to lay into them.
Andrew: Patsy is who I have had the most life experience with at this table, but I’ve learned a lot about boundaries. And I think that’s probably something with maturity and with age we become more successful and more relaxed about having boundaries, that that’s a good thing. But when I first went to counseling because I was really digging in some deep stuff, I think I thought I had to disclose everything, every detail, to everybody if I was going to be authentic. But is that true?
Jan: Whoa. That’s, I think, one of the major mistakes of this time and this culture, calling authenticity the exposition of everything that’s every happened in our lives, and really there’s a brain function that goes on when we begin to divulge those things. If there were a negative thing that happened five years ago, there was a certain dump of brain chemicals that happened at that time, and when we tell it again, we tell it again, we tell it again, you get hit again with those same brain chemicals, and they’re the negative brain chemicals, the cortisol that hits us—
Anita: That’s why we get fat.
Jan: And it hurts our bones.
Anita: So don’t relieve negative experiences — it’ll make you fat.
Jan: It will.
Andrew: And it diminishes our healing, right?
Jan: It diminishes the healing, and the thing is it takes you back to that moment. Your brain goes back to that moment, and it does not know the difference from the moment that something happened the first time and your retelling. Your brain doesn’t know the difference, and it’s like it’s happening again, it’s happening again; and so a lot of people who get up and share the same negative story over and over and over, you will see they’re not moving forward in their lives.
Andrew: They relive it, literally.
Jan: And they relive it, and then they take pleasure in reliving it. When we do that and we dump those chemicals in our body, it is just the ruination of us.
Jan: One of the things that I believe we need to communicate is you keep telling that story over and over again, sister, that’s who you become — and brother — and in that becoming, you wonder why you’re not getting better. You wonder why God is not enough. God is not enough if you’re going to tell the story over and over because He’s standing over here saying, “Come on, honey. Come on. Cross the river.”
Mark: “There’s new stories over here.”
Jan: That’s right. “And I’ve got new stories to tell through you.”
[Patsy Clairmont, Women of Faith Live]
Patsy: I mean, I’m the joke at Women of Faith. If there’s going to be any singing with all of us, they give me the dead mic. They shut it off. I know nothing about music. And so for me, to think that God, at this stage and age of my life, would give me that delight, that is so sweet. You are more than you know. That’s why oftentimes you will say something, and you’ll go, I didn’t know I felt like that. Or you will share with someone something absolutely brilliant, and afterwards you go, Whoa, that wasn’t bad. I think if we anointed our self more often and prayed for our self, we wouldn’t be as surprised when we learn that we are more than we know, that God is so much more than we know, than we have experienced, that it delights Him to reveal Himself at different levels to us. And so I continue to be in a journey. I said, “Lord, as long as there’s even one thin brain cell bouncing about up there and twirling, may I continue to be open to learn.”
Andrew: So, OK, sisterhood. I think women more naturally seek out relationship with each other — good, intimate friendship. I think men, it takes more for us to — I don’t know if we just don’t think about it or we’re not interested in it, to seek out true intimate friendships. But I’ve heard that to connect with the same gender is extremely important in our overall health, our wellbeing, in our loneliness — that we’re often lonely for someone of the same sex because we relate so closely to each other. So one, is there truth to that?
Anita: Short answer
Mark: That’s a wrap.
Anita: We’re out of here.
Jan: And I can tell you why. Because, especially female to female, when we rub shoulders with one another, there is a release of oxytocin in our bodies that has a sense of wellbeing, and we feel good after we have been together. That’s why sometimes we say, “You know what? I just need a good estrogen fix. I need to be with my girlfriends.” But then, when you’ve had enough of that, you say, “You know what? I’ve had enough of this. I need to go be with some men.” But for some men who have the capacity to do both, to be relational with women, which I think is something that is missing in manhood. They haven’t been taught how to be relational with women, and women haven’t been taught how to be relational with men; and I think this has come out of our church experience where I can’t be alone with a man who’s not my husband, and it’s like, how am I going to talk to him? I’ve got a lot of friends that are men, and I like men. I like them to behave, but I like men. But we have drawn these lines that have made it all sexual.
Anita: It’s artificial, yeah.
Jan: It’s artificial and it’s all sexual, and all of life is not sexual.
Mark: No, it’s not. It’s about three minutes of your day.
Anita: Is that speaking from experience?
Andrew: Is it everyday?
Mark: Not everyday.
Patsy: And moving right along. I think that any man who has a girlfriend or any husband with a wife are relieved to have women go spend time with other women because our needs are different, and we go on and on in our drama that they don’t need or understand.
Jan: Or want to know about.
Mark: Isn’t that interesting.
Patsy: And once we can interact and get some of that out, we go back in a much better place to the men of the world.
Anita: Well, also, we need perspective. So when you’re in your own head in your own relationship with whomever and you’re thinking, Oh my gosh, we’re the only ones facing this difficulty. Then you get together with your girlfriends, and you’re like, Oh wait, everybody’s… All of a sudden, you’re more content with life because you don’t feel alone anymore.
Jan: It’s normal.
Anita: To me, that is the real value — your sanity, your mental health. That’s why it’s so great. We’re so happy to be a part of women’s events because you have those set aside times for everybody to go, Wait a minute, we’re not the only ones. I think the “me too” factor is one of the most satisfying parts of being a part of that.
Andrew: We want to thank our friends the Breen Family for opening their home to host this podcast, Quentin Philips for his expertise, Dana Claremont for all her assistance. Our show is recorded by Center Street Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.
Mark: Our executive producer for Dinner Conversations is Celeste Winstead. Our show is co-produced by Andrew Greer and myself. Andrew is also our director. Our assistant director and editor is Chris Cameron. Tristan Swang is our director of photography. Britt Edwards is our sound engineer. And the theme song was played by Britt Edwards, Chris Cameron, Andrew Greer, and Ron Block. Thank you for listening to Dinner Conversations.
Andrew: Turning the light on one question at a time
Mark: Presented by Project Beautiful.
Andrew: Join us next time for more conversation around the table, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss one single episode. While you’re at it, rate and review our show. It’s an easy way that you can help us continue the conversation. Dinner Conversations is a production of Center Street Media.
Season One title sponsor, Project Beautiful … a passionate community committed to saving lives from the terrors of human trafficking. Learn more about how you can partner with Mark, Andrew and Project Beautiful to help bring innocent lives home by visiting:
Project Beautiful: https://www.projectbeautiful.org/dinnerconversations