Worship leader Kim Walker-Smith says she clinged to God and His truth during an intense battle with postpartum depression and mourning the death of her stepfather while working on her new solo album, On My Side.
The longtime Jesus Culture front woman released her new solo album on Friday through Jesus Culture Music and Capitol CMG. The powerful album is laced with content describing the past four years of Walker-Smith's life that she says were filled with trial after trial.
"In the last four years there were a lot of difficult things that I went through. It was really hard for me becoming a mom and making the transition to becoming a mom. I had my boys 14 months apart, they're really close in age. It was a really challenging period [because] I had really bad postpartum depression after my second," Walker-Smith said in an interview with The Christian Post. "In the middle of all of that we moved to a new city and it took us a really long time to find a home. We were planting a church with Jesus Culture and then my stepdad passed away from a sickness that he had been battling for many years. He was dad to me and all of it was piling up at once."
It was a really hard season for the Oregon native who found herself wrestling with God.
"In the midst of all of the difficulty and all of the hardship, I felt like the Lord was constantly reminding me and telling me that He's on my side. That even in the middle of all of it He wasn't leaving me; He wasn't angry or frustrated when I didn't get everything just right," she said. "It felt like a patient father who was just there with me in the middle of the storm, in the middle of the chaos — loving me, guiding me one day at a time, one step at a time and just constantly reminding me that He's on my side."
Walker-Smith said even though the journey was a hard one, it was definitely not without hope. She wrote most of the songs on the album but the title track was penned by her good friend, Lindsay. Upon hearing it, Walker-Smith said she couldn't help but cry because of how true it was to her life. She then asked the label to name the album after the song, "On My Side."
Although she doesn't talk much about her battle with postpartum depression, the 35 year old admitted that after having her second child, it hit her very hard. She explained that she had to tackle it from two sides in order to overcome the chemical imbalance she felt.
"One, I really had to take charge of my life in a way that I hadn't done before. I had to make it a point to exercise and things that helped in the natural and physically. I know if you talk to doctors they will put you on medication but I decided to take it the natural route. I did a lot of research on different vitamins and supplements and natural things that I could take to help with that."
Postpartum depression is very common, and according to WebMD it affects 1 in 8 women during the first months after childbirth.
"It's just something that happens chemically. Not all women deal with that but some of them do and it's hard to get things back to normal. I just read up on natural things that I can take to help that," she continued. "Then, of course, exercising always helps. And honestly, I don't like exercising but I would make myself do it [because] it would make me feel a lot better."
On the emotional and spiritual side of things the pregnant mother of two said she sought guidance from other women who had also struggled with this type of depression.
"I found another mom who had been through that and that became a huge support to me because it's really hard if you're trying to talk to someone who hasn't been through it. It's hard to know what to say and identify, and it really just helped me so much to find another mom who had been through that and made it out on the other side," she told CP.
Walker-Smith said her friend would just talk with her let her know that it was OK to feel some of the ways that she was feeling. Ultimately, the encouragement played a vital role in her making it out of postpartum depression.
"It also didn't put the pressure on me to be a perfect mom. I think that was another part of it, just feeling like, 'Do I even have what it takes to be a good mom? Am I going to survive this? Will my kids survive this?" she questioned. "So, being around other moms who were like, 'Oh yeah, that's totally normal. You're going to have days where you doubt yourself. You're going to have days where you just don't even know what to do.' That was really helpful."
On My Side was penned in the midst of her depression battle and along with working on the album she also continued ministering with Jesus Culture. But every night as she went on stage Walker-Smith said the enemy tried to steal her praise.
"It's really hard when you're in the hardest season of your life to continue to walk up on the stage and lead people and worship or speak or write an album, or whatever it is. Everything feels harder when you're in the middle of what feels like the toughest season of your life," she confessed. "You're doubting yourself, you're doubting God, you're hurt, you're offended, you're angry and you have all these different emotions that you're going through."
"There were times where right as I walked on stage, I would feel the accusation and the lie of the enemy. 'You're a fraud. It's not real. Look at you, you're a mess, you're in a bad season.' [But] every time, I felt the Lord come through in that moment with me [saying], 'No she's mine, she's in this with me and I'm there with her and I don't expect perfection from her at all. What I expect is a heart that says yes and is surrendered to me,'" she said.
Walker-Smith has become one of the strongest voices in worship music with a goal to bring an entire generation into an encounter with God. She testified that in those moments of doubt she always felt the Lord protecting and fighting for her.
"So much of the worship that has come out of me in this last season has been that desperate cry for Jesus, for breakthrough.
"It's amazing because I see that the Lord really does use everything for the good of those who love Him. He is truly His Word. When you truly surrender to Him and you keep saying yes to Him. Even in the midst of all of the mess He doesn't let you down and He meets you there," she declared.
Walker-Smith said contrary to what some people might believe, God doesn't expect perfection from His children and she believes people don't expect it either. She pegged the concept behind perfection as a deception from the enemy. As one not to hide her emotions, she was always very transparent with her audience and still worshiped God through it.
"What's real is that people want authenticity, and they want to hear the journey," the recording artist noted.
When asked which record on her new solo album was her favorite, she named the song, "A Fresh Outpouring."
"It's a song that's really a prayer for the individual but also the corporate Church. We want to see a fresh outpouring of God's presence, not just in our lives and in our homes but also in our churches and our schools and workplaces," she added.
"We don't want just the same old same old, we don't want just the mundane, we want more of God! That's definitely one song that's a very sacred and precious prayer in my heart, not just for my own life, but for the church as well."
Walker-Smith is now on the road as a featured artist with Jesus Culture on the popular Outcry Tour. To get a copy of her latest album On My Side or for more information, click here.