GNO with April Johnson: Supermodels, God’s Provision, and Saving the Day

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Originally from Zeeland, Michigan, I graduated from Hope College with a degree in psychology in 2013 and moved to St. Louis this August to attend Covenant Seminary. I love reading and curry and miss Lake Michigan every single day. 
 
I am a relational person to the core, so right now I’m thinking I’ll end up doing counseling or spiritual direction in some capacity, but I’m trying not to rush toward any major life decisions and just be receptive to what the Lord has for me at this time in my life. 
 
I love to see God’s redemption at work, and I care deeply about learning what it means to live well and pursue wisdom. Ultimately I want to help other people do the same. I also love a good corny joke 🙂
 
 

What would you tell the “younger you” about body image? How do you resist the lies that our culture tells you about your body?

I wish I could have told myself that my body didn’t have to be a certain shape or size in order for it to be “normal.” I went through so many of my younger years having so much hatred and shame about my body because it wasn’t the way I thought it should be. Now I look back at pictures of myself and can’t believe I thought I looked so bad at the time. 
I still spend far too much time thinking about how I look, but I’ve made some progress by making the choice to listen to some voices and block others out. It means putting in a lot of effort into recognizing what triggers me to have unhealthy thoughts (like reading certain magazines or shopping in certain stores) and choosing either to avoid those things or to consciously remind myself of what’s true and what’s not: that there’s absolutely no shame in not looking like a supermodel; that I can enjoy food without obsessing over every single calorie; that my worth is not determined by what clothes I fit into; and that bodies, no matter the shape or size, are made to do truly incredible things. 
Every day I try to remind myself that it’s more important to be gentle with myself rather than being a certain size.  I’m trying to live my life well by enjoying having a body that testifies to God’s glory and lets me participate in His creation.
 
What has God taught you about trusting Him?
He’s taught me that He really is always trustworthy!  During my senior year of college there was a night when I went to hear someone preach during his visit to my campus. At one point he paused his sermon and challenged everyone there to ask God for something and wait to see how He answered that request. 
At the time I needed money for a mission trip I was supposed to lead and I asked God to provide the funds. The very next morning I met with the adult leaders of the trip and they said that there would be enough outside donations to account for the money I still needed. I couldn’t believe I had seen an answer to that prayer in less than 12 hours. However, a month or so went by and I only had about half of the total cost of the trip covered through savings and support. I convinced myself that it was too much to ask for the other half and that I wouldn’t be able to go after all. I went in to talk to the leader, told him my situation, and without blinking an eye he said “yup, we’ll take care of it.”  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t trusted God to come through for me when He had already made it clear that He would.  It was a humbling moment. 
I had another similar experience before I moved here.  I had turned down a job at home without any other real prospects because I felt like I was being told to say no and wait, and just two days later I ended up having an unexpected conversation that would bring me to St. Louis and give me the means to go to seminary. I forget that God really does come through on His promises, and He and delights in giving good gifts to His children. He has been so gracious in giving me some pretty amazing reminders of that 🙂
 
What woman most inspires you and why?
I have a few answers 🙂 Two of my favorite authors come to mind: Marilynne Robinson and Mary Oliver. Though the only things I know about them personally come from interviews I’ve read, their writing has changed my life. 
Robinson’s novel Gilead and Oliver’s poetry books have taught me about the sacredness of life — by loving people, loving the earth, and really paying attention to where God is at work and revealing Himself in the world. Their work always gives me a profound sense that I’m encountering holiness. 
I’m also inspired by a woman who was a close friend of our family’s when I was growing up. She remains to this day one of the most loving, kind, and generous people I know. She gave me and my siblings the gift of her full presence and attention; I never doubted that we mattered to her and that she truly enjoyed being with us. She was also one of the first people I knew who seemed to have a truly intimate and thriving relationship with God. It certainly showed in the way she lived, and it still inspires me.
 
What is your favorite verse or quote about being a woman?
I don’t know if I can say that this is my absolute favorite, but there is a line from one of my favorite songs that says this: “She does not brave the war, but she saves the day.”  The artist, who goes by the name My Brightest Diamond, wrote the song about her grandmother.  
 
The song tells about how she was a woman who didn’t do anything with her life that history might have deemed very significant, but the work she did was still honorable and faithful and so important to those around her.  I think the work women do can often be devalued, but this song always reminds me that the measure of success is about the heart behind what one does, not about the deed itself.
 
 
Your friend,
April

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