Country music icon Sara Evans can still remember the first time she realized God had a special calling on her life.
In the summer of 1979, a then 8-year-old Evans decided to cross the busy street in front of her parent’s Missouri home when she was struck by a car, suffering a concussion and nearly losing her leg. After a six-week hospital stint, a series of traumatic medical procedures, and lengthy physical therapy, Evans emerged with a newfound sense of purpose.
“I have always have had a lot of resilience, I think starting from when I got hit by a car when I was eight years old,” the chart-topping singer/songwriter told The Christian Post. “After that, it was like there was a secret understanding between me and God that He had a special purpose for my life. There was a calling on my life, and I just knew that to be true at an early age.”
“God saved me for a reason then, and He saved me time and time again. I've just always felt a special connection with God, not just as my true Father, but also as my best friend, my protector, my comfort. A lot of that came through trauma in my life.”
It’s this mentality that has sustained Evans throughout her storied career, from growing up on a farm in Missouri to becoming one of the most successful female artists of her generation, selling over seven million albums.
“I don’t love organized religion but I love the Lord and I’ve accepted Jesus Christ. I’m saved by grace,” the Nashville-based musician said. “I love sharing Bible verses on my social media pages to offer hope and encouragement. I think people are feeling hopeless and lost right now, and there have been moments in my own life where I’ve said, ‘Lord, you seem very distant. Where are you? I need you.’ And He always shows up. He's never let me down."
This year, the wife and mother celebrated the 20th anniversary of her landmark double-platinum album Born to Fly, released her first solo record in three years titled Copy That, and penned her new memoir Born to Fly. In it, she details her unlikely rise to stardom and challenges she’s faced along the way, from her parents' divorce to a near-fatal plane incident and her struggles with panic and anxiety.
“God’s faithfulness has been a theme throughout my life,” she said.
Discovered as a child in New Franklin, when her two older brothers were learning to play guitar, Evans has spent most of her life onstage.
“My mom had so much entrepreneurial drive inside of her; she pushed me and my brothers to have a band and we were working musicians from the time I was four years old,” she recalled. “And that's what ultimately drove me to make the move to Nashville at 19.”
“Me getting out of New Franklin, Missouri, a town of 1,200 people, and moving all the way to Nashville and making it all the way to the very top of my industry — the likelihood of that happening was so low, but then I did it,” she said. “My life is evidence that you can go through near-death experiences, you can go through a divorce, you can go through all kinds of things, and still come back. But it takes discipline, faith, and grit to do it.”
With a slew of chart-topping hits in the 2000s, including “Suds in the Bucket” and “No Place Too Far,” Evans, who also recently started her own record label, is used to the limelight.
Yet when asked about the pressures that come with stardom, Evans said that she’s always held to the belief that living her life in obedience to God transcends the thoughts and opinions of others.
“It's a really tough world right now to be a Christian,” she said. “You have to have a lot of discipline. But at the same time, I don’t care what man thinks of me. I'm always just concerned about what God thinks of me. Is He pleased with me? Is my life honoring Him?”
“I can be really depressed for a day but I always, always, always fight back and rest in the fact that God is always present. All you have to do is be patient and wait for Him to reveal what He’s teaching you.”
In her book, Evans also discusses the importance of friendship — “you need to be surrounded by women in your corner,” she told CP — finding your purpose, marriage, and parenting. Together, she and her second husband, Jay Barker, have seven children.
“I try to instill faith in my children; I encourage them to stay away from things that are dark and would disappoint God,” she said. “We talk a lot about grace, forgiveness and mercy.”
She also gets candid about the pressures facing wives and mothers today and offers advice for those struggling to maintain the appearance of perfection. She believes that for mothers, extending grace both to themselves and those around them is key to inner peace.
“We feel so competitive and pressured to be perfect, but the biggest lesson I've learned in my life is just chill out, everything's going to be OK,” she said. “Give yourself grace. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Whatever challenges life throws at her — most recently, canceling her tour due to COVID — Evans said she’s learned that resilience, prayer, and hard work are essential to “bouncing back” and living a joyful life.
“Pray. Always pray about everything,” she said. “If you're feeling stressed or anxious or overwhelmed or depressed, one of the best ways to combat that is to think about somebody else and pray for somebody else. Stop thinking about yourself so much.”
The singer cited Romans 8:28 — “All things God works for the good of those who love Him" — to drive home the importance of trusting God amid difficulty.
“Be patient, and wait on the Lord,” Evans said. “God is always providing and protecting. That has been the story throughout my life.”