Episode | January 30, 2023

Transcript for Calvin Nowell’s Episode of The Walk

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Joshua Swanson: Welcome to The Walk; a Devotionals podcast led by worship leaders. In this episode, Calvin Nowell, who is a worship leader, songwriter, musical arranger, marketing executive, producers, social media influencer, show creator, artist, and probably a bunch of other things that I’ve left off, brings a really intimate and vulnerable word about the different forms of weight that we all carry.

Here we go.

Calvin Nowell: Hey everyone, this is Calvin Nowell, and it is an honor to be here on The Walk and I just wanna tell you some of my walk.

I grew up, um, in Cincinnati, Ohio. And I was a kid that always struggled with his weight. Um, and I was, I was always active growing up. You know, when I was, I played sports, but I wasn’t good at it and as I was getting older in the seventh grade, um, I remember trying out for the basketball team, but I didn’t make it, got cut.

And I said, all right, I’m gonna try out my eighth grade year and right before I could get, um, right before the, uh, tryouts, I broke my arm and I didn’t get to tryout. And I remember in that season they probably already know who they wanted to play basketball for high school. And I gave up on that dream and I started to just become more sedentary in my lifestyle and I would gain weight. 

And as I became coming through high school, I would get the name Big Cal. You know, like, “what’s up Big Cal?” You know? And I, it was, it was, it was a gesture that people say, you’re a big guy, but we, we love you. We embrace you. But it was something that, you know, I started to struggle, it would, it would always hinder me. Um, and I was always the kind of person say, well, if I’m gonna be big, I’m at least look good, you know, while I’m, while I’m a big person. But, um, but as I got older, it would just start to get to a, a high number and I would just, you know, it, it’s, it’s, it’s painful at times because you can go somewhere and people stare at you.

You can walk into a restaurant or somebody just look at you like, whoa, that’s a big guy. And you know, man, how do you overcome it? 

People would start to say things to me. I would, I would feel judged growing up, you know, um, especially when it came to jobs. I felt like I had a lot of talent and a lot of potential that I just couldn’t get to manifest in my life.

And so being an African American male and then being an overweight African American male, I felt like I had two things working against me. So, I could make you an incredible resume, send you my resume, it’ll make you, you, you would call me and say we want you to come in and we want to talk to you, but then either two things are happening when I walk in, you’re taken back because of my skin color or because of my size.

I remember it was 2003, I kept seeing dimes. Everywhere I go, I don’t know what it was, I would just see dimes. It was like this thing. I kept seeing. It, kept seeing it, and it was at the end of the year that I saw like 10 dimes on the, on the floor. Just no other quarters, no nickels, no pennies. Just dimes. And I remember praying and asking God what this means? What are you saying to me? And it’s just as clear as day. I just heard God say, pick up change.

And I said, pick up change. What do you mean by pick up change? And as simple as it is to pick up a dime, if you keep getting dimes, if you say, I’m broke, I don’t have any money. Keep picking up those dimes on the ground. By the end of the day, you might have a $1.20. And if you get in that, that mode of doing it every single day, you might have $5 by the end of the week. You know what I mean? 

And so I would say those things to myself of like, I need to just pick up change. It’s just as easy as picking up a dime. You just gotta recognize it and keep picking it up. Well, think a long story short. I went into 2003 and I said, oh, I’m gonna lose my weight. I’m gonna lose this weight. I’m gonna pick up change.

And I did it, and low and behold, I lost over 200 pounds in a year and blew everybody away. I blew everybody away. I would walk into a room and people would start crying like, “oh my God, you did it, Calvin, we’re so proud of you. We’re so happy for you.” 

Um, and then, You know, I said to myself, I threw away all my old clothes. I was like, I’m never going back. I’m never gonna go back. You know, I’m gonna always be this size, you know, I could fit into regular store clothing. And I vowed to stay that way. And for about six to seven years, I stayed small. And what was great about it was, you know, I was, I was doing really well. Then all of a sudden I entered a season of…I lost all my family through death, and when they all died, I just didn’t know what to do and make sense of life. 

And I started to medicate again, and I started to eat again, and I wind up gaining my weight and then some.

It was really hard because I, I couldn’t understand how I did this, but I never experienced tragedy the way that I experienced tragedy. And so I remember in this part particular season of my life that I needed help emotionally, because I’m an emotional eater. If you hurt my feelings, I might take it out on a cheeseburger more so than I take it out on you. So I realized this, and I’ve always said this, but I’ve learned this in therapy, that you can’t connect the dots until you collect the dots.

And when I went to collect the dots in therapy, I started to see the things that were happening in my life and it really blew me away. And I was like, oh, wait a minute. God, you’re gonna work this out for me. You’re gonna make sense of this weight. You’re gonna speak to me. And I remember, um, Brene Brown, she’s a therapist, she said, “when you deny your story, it defines you. But when you own your story, you get to rewrite the ending.” 

Here’s the hope the Bible says in Hebrews 12:1, It says, “therefore, since we have so great cloud of witness surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance. And another, uh, interpretation is it says, wait and the sin, which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith who further joy set before him endured the Cross. Despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

When I first started to lose weight, I started to study the word weight and when you look up the word weight in the dictionary, it says anything that impedes motion. So, a weight is anything that holds you back. And so I’m looking at Hebrews 12 and I’m like, lay aside the weight that so easily entangles you that gets you caught up. Anything that impedes motion. And so wait, I said we all have a weight. And then I started to think about this particular thing. I said I’m studying the word potential, and the word potential means being capable of, but not yet in existent. Like, you can do it, but you might not have seen it yet, you know, but, but it’s, it’s possible.

And I started to realize with those two words, it was weight and potential. Weight and potential. I kept seeing these two things and I started to think about how people judge me when I walk into a room, see, when I walk into a room, cuz of the way I look physically. You know what my struggle is? You can see it.

But we all have a weight and we all have an appetite outta control. You just may be able to see mine, but I may not be able to see yours. But your app, there’s an appetite in you that’s out of control. Now, if you, if your skin turned purple because of, let’s say you have a pornography addiction, or if your skin turned blue because you snort cocaine, we would all walk into the room, you would have purple skin. I would be 200 pounds over. You would have blue skin and there would be no judgment. There wouldn’t be any judgment because we all can see that we have a weight.

Joshua Swanson: when we come back. Calvin helps all of us understand how our father in heaven looks at our lives through the lens of a day by day journey. Make sure you stay with us because it’s a really fantastic word.

So, I mentioned in the last podcast that I had news coming soon about our platform’s Song Discovery, and today I would love to announce that I have some news. For those of you who don’t already know, Song Discovery has been the platform responsible for discovering the new songs of the church. A few names you may have heard of, like Chris Tomlin, Phil Wickham, Charity, Gayle, (who actually just did a podcast episode of The Walk with us, and you should definitely check that out) Lauren Daigle and, and many, many more were all discovered on song discovery even before they had record deals and became global worship leaders. 

We’ve been curating the local hymnal for over 25 years. Today I’m excited to say that we’re back in a new format, which will announce shortly, but for those of you who’ve written a song for your local church, maybe a song about something you or your congregation is going through, maybe just an inspired song that the Holy Spirit dropped in your lap and you feel that that song could serve the global church, well, we want to hear it. Head over to song discovery.com and fill out the contact form. We’ll start opening up the platform for submissions very soon. 

Also, a quick reminder that your reviews on Apple Podcasts are so important to us, so please just take two minutes to write something up about our show. Thanks. 

Okay, back to Calvin.

Calvin Nowell: You know, I’ve had some powerful worship experiences at church to the point where everybody’s crying, everybody’s coming down to the altar, and I remember taking the microphone and telling people. ..you can’t lose 200 pounds today, but you can start today. You can start the process today. 

When God made the earth, what did he do each day of his creation? What did he say at the end of it? God just said, “it’s good.” I want you to know God looks at you in the course of a day. Don’t worry about what I have to do in day 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, day 90, just worry about today, and today is good for you. And I want to encourage you that you may be struggling with a secret addiction. You may have an appetite out of control, but I remember this one particular time when I had lost a hundred pounds. The number was still higher than I liked, and I just started crying and I felt so defeated, and my trainer was like, “look at you, though. Why are you crying?” I was like, “I just thought I would be further along.”

He was like, “look at you. You’re not the same person. You’re letting the enemy kick your. And you’ve met, you’ve lost a hundred pounds, but you can’t give up.” Now, you have to go get the help, collect the dots, go and get counseling. Go and get the help. 

So, I want you all to be encouraged as you go about your life. Remember Hebrews 12, “lay aside the way in the sin that so easily entangles us.” Learn how to lighten up and let God take you to places that you never have been before because I do know this, God is good at taking your mess and making it your message. The things that hold you back is the very thing that God wants to use in your life and in the people around you.

He wants to make your problems, your motivation now, and so that’s what I, my prayer for you that are listening is that you will become a solution in this earth based off everything that you’ve gone through in your life. And so, let me pray for you. 

Father, we just thank you for every person that’s listening to this podcast. God, sometimes it’s just so overwhelming to know, God, can you do anything with me? Like, I’m so overweight, I’m so burdened by sin, or I’m so burdened by this thing or that thing, or it could be my finances or anything, but I’m just weighed down. And I, and it’s hard for me to, to even do life because I’m weighed down.

Father, I ask that you send help. I ask that you send accountability to help everyone that’s listening and including myself to lay aside the wait and send that so easily besets us. We’re on a journey, father, and we need each other. There’s no way that I could have done anything or will be able to do anything for the goals that I’m working on if it isn’t for people that are around me.

And so Father, I send, I pray that you send help. I pray that you send resources. I pray that you send guidance and so we thank you in advance for what you’re gonna do and help us to walk it out this year. Help me to walk it out again, help the people that are listening take the journey with me as we lay aside every weight and sin.

In Jesus name. Amen.

Joshua Swanson: Wow. Calvin, your vulnerability is a testimony to just how strong you truly are. We thank you so much for blessing us with your devotional. We’re going to play out this episode with a song that Calvin did with Evan Whickam and Kevin Olusola called Fullness

As always, special thanks to Matt McCartie for producing and editing today’s episode. Jacob Fairclough produced our theme song. The Walk is brought to you by Worship Leader, which is an Authentic Media brand. I’m Joshua Swanson. Here’s Fullness.