Q&A with Tara Sun“In order for us to live the way that Jesus calls us, the countercultural way, we need to learn to surrender and trust God instead.“
Tara Sun is a writer, blogger, podcast host and debut author of “Surrender Your Story,” which releases this month. She chats with Peer about writing her book and what it truly means to surrender your story and fears to God.
PEER: How did you come to know Jesus?
TARA SUN: That is a great question. I was really, really young when I got to know the Lord. I was blessed to be raised in a Christian household with my parents and my brother. The moment I think when I was really young, when I got to know the Lord, was maybe just so young as like four or five, honestly. So, I’ve always known of the Lord. I’ve always had a relationship with Him, but I feel like as I’ve gotten older, like a lot of us, it has really just deepened and made more personal. But I’m thankful for that, like that faith, legacy and foundation through my family. I know many don’t get that, but I’m very thankful that, that I was.
P: Tell me about your blog and the inspiration behind starting your blog.
TS: I want to say [it started] four years ago maybe, or maybe longer. It’s hard to keep track at this point, but it really was born out of this idea to just share what God had been doing in my life and a lot of in the book. And with my newest book coming out this month, I share a little bit about the background of how that came to be because spoiler alert, I never wanted to do this. I never thought this would be something that I would be a part of my story. I thought it’d just be a very different life path. And through a lot of twists and turns and things that God had brought me through at a very young age, I’m like, you know what, people were telling me, Tara, you should tell more people about it because it’s 0kind of a wild and weird, but cool God story, you know.
And I didn’t know the potential that social media had at that point. It was just, kind of just kicking off with blogs and, the influencer space, whatever you’d like to call it. And I just was like, maybe my grandma and my mom and my boyfriend will read these little musings about what God had been dating my life. And I started a website and just started sharing random things on Instagram, and then I realized the really cool potential that God had in this. And from there with my new podcast, “Truth Talks with Tara” and now “Surrender Your Story,” my book, it’s all out of this idea of helping women just do three things. And that is know God’s word, love God’s word and live God’s word because I feel like it’s this beautiful domino effect when you know, love and live. We just want people to know that the Bible is actionable and that it’s life-giving and that we don’t just have to sit idle. We can know and love the God we serve, serve, and then live it out.
P: What was the inspiration behind this book? Why did you decide to write it?
TS: This has been not only a theme of my life, but my story. You have themes in your life. Like, it seems like you look back on your life and there were either certain struggles or certain things that God has taught you that seem to be like way more obvious than others, right? I just feel like that’s kind of sometimes how it goes in the stories of our lives. There are themes and there are more obvious things that God teaches us. And surrendering my control and learning to trust God with my story has been a really big theme of my own personal story and testimony. But as I’ve dug into God’s word and as I’ve learned more about him, I found that that is integral to the heart of a Christian.
Like Luke 9:23, when Jesus was talking to His disciples, “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’” (NIV). They must deny themselves. And so, I started studying what that meant, not only for me, but for us as believers. This book just came out of this desire to share my own struggle because I know that I’m not alone in having a hard time and trusting God with my story. And I know I’m not alone in feeling like I can plan my life down to a tee whether you’re a Type A person like me, or whether you’re kind of more “go with the flow.” We all have things that we’re holding onto like this with this death grip, you know? And so, I wanted to see what God was telling us to do when He said, deny yourself, surrender, follow me, count the cost—and ultimately to show people that it’s worth it. Whatever God calls us to sacrifice and lay down in this life, there’s a better trade off. And so that’s really where it came from and my heart for that.
P: I want to talk about surrendering your story. Can you share what your book is about and what readers can expect from it?
TS: Yes. I love this. No, that’s a great question. I would say that not only just personally in my life, but just sit back and think for a moment. Friends, there is, I don’t know if you’ve heard it, I’m sure you’ve heard it, whether it’s on social media or from other friends or any secular source, there is this lie that’s running around masquerading itself as truth, that you can manifest your destiny; that you have the power within yourself to control your circumstances, that you are good enough to create the life that you want. And it’s something that sounds really good and really empowering on the surface, but when we dig deeper, most of us try those things. We try to manifest our destiny, we try to plan all these things, and ultimately we end up feeling frustrated or disappointed with the way our stories play out and the way that our plans work, which a lot of times they don’t, right?
And so we’re left with this frustration and this disappointment, and through my own life and through what God tells us is that we weren’t actually created for control. We weren’t created to live with this death grip, we were actually created to surrender, which is, that is what it means in Luke 9:23 to deny ourselves. It means to be like, “God, I trust you with my life. I’m going to follow you instead. And I’m not going to live with clenched fists. I’m going to live with open hands.” And so, this book is all about teaching us the beauty and surrender. It’s teaching us what it looks like to not be independent from God, like the world tells us to be good enough on our own, but to be dependent on who God is and to be patient and to trust God’s timing. Again, all through my testimony and so much Scripture breakdown, but that is kind of the big idea of “Surrender Your Story.”
P: Why is it important for young Christians to surrender their story and also ditch control and trust God fully?
TS: Yeah. It’s so heavy on my heart for Gen Z and for the generations to come. I know this is a message for many generations. It’s not exclusive, but I see it, like you said, Olivia, like it’s so prominent right now in Gen Z culture, and it’s so prominent in this world. I believe it’s so important because we are taught in high school, we are taught by social media. We are taught by a lot of people that we need to have it all figured out. Whether that’s, I mean, I was told that in high school, we need to have our plan figured out. We need to have our university figured out. We need to, this and this and have all of our ducks in a row. And we’re also told that we don’t need help, that we can just bulldoze through life and do whatever we want.
And although we could, that’s not the way of life, the life-giving way that God just provides for us. And so, to combat those messages, that Gen Z and these, and, on our age and our culture is being combated with, we need to stand firm in God’s truth because we’re living in an era of social media and we’re living in the society that is so bombarded by this message more than ever. Like, I was talking to my dad and he’s like, this wasn’t really that big of a conversation when he was younger, but social media plays a big role in it. And this is a world we’re living in. In order for us to live the way that Jesus calls us, the countercultural way, we need to learn to surrender and trust God instead because we are inundated every single moment with these messages of self-empowerment when we’re really just called to find ourselves in God.
P: Why do you think it’s hard to surrender everything to God in a culture where it says to create your own destiny? What practical advice do you have to surrender your story?
TS: One of the hardest things I have come across personally and I have seen in culture and just even from some of the people that I’m walking through life with about why is it so hard to release our death grip on what we think and instead trust God. One of the biggest things is that I have in my life and believe that if I let go of my control, if I trust God instead, then I’m not going to get what I want. That we think we have our best intentions in mind, we have dreams and goals for our life, which don’t hear me wrong on this. Dreams and planning are not sins and having goals is not a sin, but where we get it wrong is when we decide to go our own way.
And so that’s the hardest thing I’ve come across is that it is hard to trust our dreams and our goals to God, because a lot of times that’s not how they play out. God takes us on different paths and different journeys. We’ve all seen it; our plans and our lives play out in a lot of different ways. I think that’s one of the biggest roadblocks that we come to. It’s believing that God isn’t good enough in a way, whether we admit it or not, but that God isn’t good enough to write stories. I think practically, like you asked, how can we practically surrender our stories and trust God instead and find that freedom is one, is to just getting to know who God is. Because here’s the thing, if we know in our head that God writes good stories and He is worthy to be trusted, but we don’t actually practically live it out and we’re not practicing that, we’re not going to get very far.
So knowing who God is, because I tell this to a lot of people, Olivia and friends, listening, like if you say a husband or a friend or a parent, if you don’t know them, and if you don’t love them genuinely, how are you going to trust them with your life, with your secrets, with really anything you wouldn’t trust someone that you don’t know you wouldn’t love, someone that you don’t genuinely know? So the same thing to a greater level goes with our relationship with God. We need to know who He is because when we know who He truly is, what God’s word says about Himself, then we can be like, okay, God, I know you’re good. I know you’re loving. I know you keep your promises. I know that there is a promise and a future you have for me. That helps us release our hands a little bit and be like, okay, God, like you are incredible. So I can trust you to write an incredible story for my life.
And then another thing I would just practically encourage people listening to do is to work that muscle of surrender, even just daily, even in the small things, because the big things are hard to let go of in our lives, right? Like our plans for our relationship or school or, whatever, those are big things in our mind. But practically start exercising that surrender muscle, if you will, by even just the schedule of your day. Like plan a schedule, have goals for your day, but when things, roadblocks, come up, when things don’t happen, be like, Lord, I surrender this to you, Lord. I want to follow your plan for my life rather than mine. I think sometimes we miss the little moments, the everyday moments of opportunities to just practice that muscle because as we do, when the bigger things come, we have that practice under our belt, if that makes sense.
P: What advice do you have for the Christians who may be hesitant about sharing their story? Because I think are surrendering their story. Because I think that, like, again, like you said with manifestation and things like that, create your own destiny. Young people might be hesitant to just surrender everything. What advice do that for those people?
TS: No, I’ve been there, I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and I feel like I still do every once in a while. My flesh is always trying to grab back at control. That’s what happens. Right? And the thing I would say to someone who’s worried about giving up that control is knowing that although you are so gifted friend, I want you to hear you have so much purpose in Christ.
But I want us to sit back and think for a moment that if God is who He says He is, then He writes better stories than we could, and He gets to include us in those stories. So just a reminder that if you’re hesitant to release your control in your life, although you are so gifted and you are so able that God is even more gifted, God is even more able, and He wants to blow you away with the potential and the purposes that He has in your story. And He could let us do our own thing. But the cool thing is that the gospel starts with knowing that Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “it is by grace. you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV).
And then we were created for good works. Verse 10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (NIV). When we realized that our faith and our very origin of our lives is from God and that it can’t be apart from God, then we know that the only way we thrive is when we’re in God, when we’re abiding in Christ, that it’s not our own works. But then when we realize that surrender, when we let God take control, verse 10 says, we were created for good works and that good works, we will see that good fruit and that good works when we follow God and His plan for our lives.
And you have the option to control and plan your life. You have the option to go through life without trusting God. But don’t take my word for it. Take God’s word for it. But I’m here to testify that, that God has better plans because He loves you and He is more powerful and more imaginative than we ever, ever could be.
P: That’s so good. I guess to wrap things up, but what hope do you have for readers as they pick up your book, as they read your book?
TS: Yeah. My biggest heart for this book is I know, I’m not blind here. I know that it’s kind of a hard thing to call people to. It is a hard truth from God’s word, which there are a lot of hard truths in His word. But my biggest thing is helping people from the moment they start reading to the moment they finish the book, the last few words, my heart is that people would see that, yeah, it’s a sacrifice. It’s a little bit of a stretch. It’s a hard thing to hear, to let go and let God instead. But my prayer is that people would see it’s beautiful and that there’s more freedom in it. So, see the beauty in the potential life that God has for us when we surrender, and the freedom that we don’t have to strive because I don’t know about you, but I feel exhausted, I feel disappointed, I feel frustrated.
I feel like I’m kind of spinning when I try to take control and I just, I don’t get where I want to be. And so my desires that people would feel free for the first time, maybe in a while, they would feel like I don’t have to work so hard because all I have to do every day is just follow God and let him do the rest and act in obedience.
And so the beauty, see the beauty and find that there’s freedom and that it’s not so hard. Like God has some really good things if we just decide to take that step and surrender and then just watch him do the rest in our lives.
IN THE HOT SEAT
P: What’s your current morning routine?
TS: Ooh, fun question. It’s kind of weird. I feel like it varies sometimes. Because I have almost a year-old baby and so we have our routine, but like some days it can look very different. But basically we get up at like 7 a.m., thank goodness he’s a good sleeper. We get up at 7 and first thing, make coffee. I mean, he eats and then we have coffee, breakfast, we play and then he goes down for a nap and that’s when I do my time in the Word. And then that’s when I get into work and things like that.
P: What are you currently reading?
TS: Ooh. Okay. I’m reading a lot of things actually. It is “Create, Anyway,” a book about just finding creativity and finding, finding joy again in doing like things that like you’re gifted in, in motherhood.
P: What’s a Bible verse that’s been on your heart recently?
TS: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it in labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1, ESV).