By Jamie Shafer
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with singer, songwriter, speaker, and author Kathy Troccoli in the midst of her Among Friends tour. As the host of this women’s event, Troccoli includes guest speakers like Carol Kent, Lisa Harper, Liz Curtis Higgs, and others to create a weekend experience that ranges from lighthearted to heart wrenching as speakers share their personal stories.
Troccoli’s hope is that Among Friends gives women “a safe place to let down the walls, enjoy a good laugh, be themselves—and walk away with renewed courage to take on life’s trials.” Her heart is to offer an environment where women feel they can truly be real with each other; something she feels is often missing in the lives of Christians.
She has come a long way since the early 1980s when her career in Christian music began skyrocketing. Now at age 53, she is celebrating 30 years of music and ministry, having released 22 records and nine books, among various other accolades. But she doesn’t talk long without recognizing that her journey has had its hard places. She lost her dad when she was only 15. She faced bankruptcy at 30, fought bulimia for a decade, and walked with her mother, her lifelong cheerleader, through a battle with cancer that she lost when Troccoli was in her early 30s.
Authentic Faith and Community
It was the love of her Savior and close relationships that carried her through these times—one of the reasons she feels so strongly about the importance of authentic faith and friendships.
“There’s very few of us who have people who can read our faces—or that we have allowed to speak into our lives. We can all pretend our way through life, and that’s going to reflect in how we bring up our children, and how we are at the workplace, and how we view God. Life goes by so fast and I don’t want to live that way,” says Troccoli.
She didn’t grow up in the church, but found Christ at age 20 through a friendship with a coworker. “I was working a day job in Long Island. And there was this girl who used to read her Bible during her lunch hour. At first, I thought she was such a ‘Jesus freak.’ She didn’t care what people thought of her. She read; she ate her sandwich; she talked to me. She made me think, What does she have? I wanted what she had. Seeing her radiance, seeing her confidence, she made me absolutely inquisitive about the Lord because of how she lived.”
Not long after, Troccoli began impacting others in her new work environment, prior to her life in music. “I was a receptionist for a year and a half. It came down to the little conversations, the smiles, and the notes of encouragement. I was a baby Christian, but I knew it was about living it out. At Christmas-time, I wrote everybody in the company a little note—about 70 people.” And it was that little act of kindness that turned one woman’s heart. “Little pieces of love. Everybody is longing for love, for true joy, true peace. If you live that out, you’ll at least let them see him and ask.”
For many Christians in the workplace, our faith is easier to live out in the big decision moments. It’s the life lived in the daily subtleties that can be harder—how we approach challenges or how we relate to those around us. We choose moment by moment how we will offer Christ back to the world. Troccoli encourages those looking for ways to serve the Lord in their daily workplace, “You don’t have to throw the gospel out there like a bucket of paint on somebody . . . it’s remembering that you are that little bit of light in that office.
“It’s training ourselves for a divine awareness. It’s waking up in the morning and saying, ‘Here I am, Lord, reporting for duty.’ Then, I have to be aware of the grocery girl, or the nurse, or the person at Starbucks. Now that is a different kind of Christianity.”
Jamie Shafer is the communications director at East 91st Christian Church, in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.