Kelsey Chapman On Pursuing Wholeness
Kelsey Chapman is a 27-year-old marketing and brand strategist. Although her roots are in Tennessee, the bubbly and bright entrepreneur now resides in Colorado where her husband, David, attends school. Kelsey is the epitome of drive and passion. Equal parts focused and fun, her presence is adventurous; you can’t help but feel more motivated just by being around her. Her passion for people and freedom manifests in her business pursuits — an area of life that has given her a unique perspective on dependency and identity.
What is your background in faith?
I went to church on holidays, that’s about it. I also grew up with a very deep connection to God, but that wasn't from going to church with my family or being raised in an overtly Christian household.
How did your family life contribute to your understanding of God?
I’ve really seen the favor and protection of God in my life. People who know me have said that I shouldn't have turned out the way I have, given how I grew up. That’s just the grace of God. I had strong influences in my friends, my grandparents, and my aunt specifically.
My parents didn't nail it in every area, but they also instilled godly principles in me, like the idea that possibilities are endless and there are no limits. Even though they didn't take me to church every Sunday or instill Christian values at home, they captured the Father's heart in a different way; I often see God's heart for me in the way they love me.
For example, early in our marriage, I needed a new car. I would’ve never asked my parents for money, but my dad paid off my debt and bought me a car. At the time I was so ashamed to receive something like that from him — but he gave me a gift with no strings attached. It was nothing I earned. I didn’t deserve for my debt to be paid. That was a really big picture of God's heart. I see that often in my parents, even though they're super unconventional.
Was there a time in your life when Christianity became more real to you?
I had an interest in God since I was exposed to him at a young age, but I'd say in high school I started actually growing with him, learning about his character and nature. My Young Life leader and my aunt were super influential in my life — they were like light houses for Jesus in probably the darkest time in my life. At the time, my mom was an alcoholic. I was often so stressed out in response to that situation. Towards the end of high school, I started unwinding and mellowing and really understanding God.
I definitely wove through phases of “Bible-thumping” at that time too, which is embarrassing. If I see my high school boyfriend I'll apologize again. Gosh, I wouldn't have wanted to date me, no wonder! Man, I sure didn't make Christianity look very good. I also toed the line of having a party crowd friend group while also being interested in God. So I started walking out life with him in high school, but it was messy.
You love the Enneagram. Can you share more about how that has helped you to understand yourself?
Because I'm a 7 and the way I interpret and talk about life, it’d be easy for people to think I've never had a hard day in my life. They probably would think I'm privileged (which I am in some ways). But people who take time and get to know me know it's not always rainbows and sunshine — it’s just how I cope. I survived checking my mom's pulse during high school by positivity, you know? That was the only way to survive.
As a 7, I’ll sit in counseling sessions and think, "Why would I want to feel?” — but I’m learning to make peace with pain as an adult. I know in order to be a healthy person I have to.
What has choosing to process pain taught you?
For both my husband and I, there are elements of our family legacy that we love and want to incorporate. But we want to leave a different legacy with our family, where our children are deeply connected with God from a young age. We know that in order to do that, we have to work out the kinks in our own lives from the pain that we have experienced along the way.
The legacy we want to leave is really important and we're basically doing a 180 with the legacy we've been given. And for me, I know the motivator of working out my pain is more fun and freedom on the other side (which is typical of a 7).
Why is it worth it to process pain and figure yourselves out before you have kids?
I want my kids to have the best life. I'm so close to my parents now and I love them, but I went through a lot of pain. I want my kids to grasp identity on the front end of life.
Personally, I also want to live in fullness and taste life in the most full way that God designed me to experience. If I need to do a little work in order to do that, count me in! Again, that's not the typical perspective of a 7.
What does it mean to go on your own journey of intimacy and healing and encourage your husband to do that healthily?
One of the hardest things about marriage is when your spouse is in pain and you can't fix it, because you can't make them get whole. You may see a route for them to get a whole but they might not choose it. But you’ve got to work on yourself. You’re going to be a better spouse for it.
David was passionate, on fire, and in love with Jesus when we got married — then he got hurt by the Church. He ended up being burnt out at 21 years old. We moved to Colorado and it's been very healing for him, but we're three years in and he's just now coming back to himself.
I’ve taken an entire year to reprogram myself. I've been in regular counseling since February, because I realized I was in pain. I was escaping, mostly from Church stuff. But it's not like our marriage was just full of passion either — we loved each other, but we were both in pain. This summer, we took the entire summer off from church to just reconnect and be together and that was really good for us.
I don't have the perfect formula. The best way I can love him is do my own work so that I'm less hard on him and not projecting my pain on him. That has paid off. Typical marriage advice people will tell you is before you try to fix them, fix yourself. It took me a few years to put that into practice, but it works.
It may mean giving your spouse space to have a hard year (even though a hard year is long!) — or a hard three years. It's rare that you're both going to be at your best, in synchronism with each other, forever all the time. It means giving our spouses space to have their own process, knowing we can't fix it and that’s okay — which takes the pressure off.
Can you explain further what it means to be a marketing and brand strategist?
My tagline for my business is helping creative entrepreneurs to build their business, grow their platform, and steward their influence. So it's not just about the “marketing.” For me it's about helping people to carry their vision and their dream for the long haul.
Where does your passion for helping people/business come from? How does that fit in with your identity as a Christian?
My passion is seeing people come alive in what they were born to do, not what society expects of them — whether that's Christian culture or the American dream, whatever it is. That could be so different person to person and season to season.
I believe we need more people to do whatever sets their souls on fire. We need more people living out what they were purposed to do. In Christian culture, we've created a mold. I’m a 7 with a really strong 8 wing and when I'm in a room of Christian 2 girls, I feel so out of place because I'm so not that.
Instead of trying to wedge ourselves into the mold, why don't we do what we were born to do? That can shift with seasons. My “purpose” or “calling” is to equip and empower women and to see people live in their most fullest, freest form. Maybe in this season it's business and maybe in the next, I don't know! I’m okay with it being fluid and changing.
How do you work through fear in the areas that you feel called to?
Fear has been the biggest struggle of my entire life — whether it was night terrors as a kid or fear of being kidnapped. Now that I'm older, it translates to success in business and my own standards.
Honestly, an example is my recent launch. I hate failing, and although I'm still speaking life over this launch and it's been an amazing learning experience for me, it didn’t yield the results all the sales funnel people and the formulas said it would. I spent a lot of money and it didn't pay off. I’ve seen God really provide for me this month — but we're in debt and I'm on the biggest budget of my life.
Two weekends ago, I cried all weekend. I don't cry about business. I happy cry, like in a movie — but I don't cry about business, because there's always a solution and there's always possibilities. I can often still see possibility — but this was probably the first time I've experienced being lost in a haze of "I don't see possibility, I'm going to tank!”
After that launch I felt like, maybe these formulas don't work — but I really trust God. In my future, I believe I'm going to be able to make a lot to give a lot, and it'll be fine. But right now feels hard. So it’s about zooming out and getting godly perspective.
In the midst of it not looking like I thought it would look, I'm also living the life I said I wanted. I have freedom. I have time to be with my husband, hang out with my friends, and do what I want. So I'm going to look at that — and once I'm out of debt, what I'm making will be enough. God's never let me down.
It’s very scary because my job isn't quite so stable. Clients can choose to renew or not. What if they all drop one month? Sometimes I think Instagram is going to change.
But God has always provided an exit strategy for me before it was too late. He's not going to let it all tank and me not have a job.
Instead of getting stuck in fear, I’ve chosen to surround myself with godly perspective and people. I have a super prophetic mentor who can always remind me of my identity. For this launch, having some friends who are entrepreneurs was really helpful.
What are some of the lessons you learned through experiencing some of your greatest fears in business this year?
After this launch, I started listening to a lot of sermons and godly principles, because all these "formulas" didn't work for me. I have a mentor who's a launch strategist for million dollar launches and even she's told me I didn’t do anything wrong.
If you quit the second it gets harder, you miss out on learning and living that lesson. Hard days are inevitable. Yes, I want to declare success and all that stuff over my life, but this is the nitty gritty. It's hard, but ultimately this is the life I wanted. This is just the “hard” of the life I wanted!
It sounds cheesy, but I’m learning that your mess is your message. Part of my message I’m learning is utter dependence on God. I'm dependent on God to bring enough income to pay my bills and debt and save a little. I’m in deep. But he didn't design me to be in debt and I’m practicing being a good steward. My new hobby is saving money!
Success is not a formula, like strategists promise you — so you have to learn how to lean on God. I can do a lot of things and make a lot of things happen for myself, but some things are really, truly dependent on God. I'm learning that and I'm learning it the hard way… but here I am!
What has business taught you about partnering and really living life in alignment with God?
Your message is meaningful and people don't just come to you, bottom line. Yes, there's an element where God can move the needle for you, but part of me stewarding my end is doing whatever I can do. That might look a little different across the board with people's different personal convictions. But I really care about stewardship and personal responsibility. I want to steward my part of the equation super well so that God is set up to fully do whatever he does best in my life… then I give him all the credit.
What's your favorite way to have fun or adventure with God?
I can't do it as much anymore because I went through brake pads so fast, but I really love going on drives in the mountains.
I can only read or sit for 20 minute increments. I can sit on my computer and work, because part of being a 7 is the ability to be laser-focused on one thing, but typically only translates to work. Everything else I do in very small batches. I'll sit down to read two chapters of a book in the morning, a little devotional on another point the day, I pray throughout the day.
I don't sit for long periods of time but for some reason driving is a space I just really enjoy sitting. I don't have any other distractions, nothing else I “should do.” There's nothing like getting a delicious coffee and sipping and driving my mountain drive with God. It’s the best thing.