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Rory Feek Shares His Greatest Pain and Greatest Joy

Grammy-winner Rory Feek discusses how his life was changed by God and his late wife Joey. Read Transcript


[MUSIC PLAYING]

In 2013, country music songwriter, Rory Feek,

and his wife Joey shot a music video for a song they loved

called When I'm Gone.

In the video, they painted a picture of a world

where Joey passes away and Rory is alone.

They had no idea that storyline would come true in real life.

In 2014, after giving birth to their daughter,

Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Two years later, doctors weren't giving them

much hope for her survival.

In his book, This Life I Live, Rory shares their love story

that touched millions along the way

and how his greatest joy and greatest pain

are wrapped up in one terrible, beautiful thing.

All right, Rory joins us now and it's

great to have you here.

I would imagine, in reading your book

and then in looking at these amazing pictures,

that the process of this has to have

been both painful and joyful in just kind of logging

all of what it was.

Is that hard for you-- it's only been a little over a year-- is

that hard for you to go back and watch this

or is it a joy to remember?

No, it's amazing to remember, because most people

don't have any of this.

Yeah, that's true.

They don't have anything like this

and we didn't know why we were capturing it and logging it.

We were just living and we didn't

know the story was going to turn out the way that it did.

So to have it to go back to and watch all the--

I mean, we have so much.

We have so much and it's not just pictures

that you take on an iPhone.

We really captured it and we tried

to tell stories with it, just because I thought it

might matter to our children.

Turns out it matters to them and me and lots of people

out there.

And for sure for Indiana,--

For sure.

Your littlest.

Yes.

You know, because it will be the--

it will be the documentary that keeps her mom alive.

The documentary and also every time we made something,

every music video we ever made was at home.

Everything we ever did was using our lives, our children,

our neighbors, and I didn't realize, at the time,

how important that was going to be,

but it'll especially be important to Indiana

as she grows up, because those will--

those will be how she will remember and discover

her mother.

Well, certainly in your music we see your gift for writing,

but your book is amazing and your style

is so different than anything else I've ever read before.

I mean it's so conversational, so laid back, so you,

so the farm, but had you ever anticipated

writing a book in your life?

I wanted to write a book and I remember I actually

even made a few calls and had an appointment years ago,

like five years ago, to see if it could happen

and it didn't come to be and one of the reasons was they

didn't know if I could write, they

didn't know if we had a story that was compelling,

and they didn't know if I had a voice.

And by writing the blog over a couple of years time,

a voice developed.

I started realizing that this, besides writing songs

this feels special.

It feels special for me.

So I think that they--

the publishers and others realize

that you not only have something to say,

you have a unique way of saying it.

And I didn't know that.

I believed it, but I didn't know.

But that's kind of the pattern of what

happened to you musically too.

I mean, it wasn't like you woke up one day and said, voila,

I'm a songwriter.

I mean, you went through an incredible process

of trial and error and submitting things and being

rejected until you came to the place

where somebody said, aha, you know, there's something here.

Do you think that's part of God's way of giving us

a voice, of helping us understand

how to relay the message?

I think that there's a lot of power

in believing in something, like believing that you could be

a songwriter, and where some people would see the obstacles

and the fear would paralyze them, for me,

I just had this overwhelming belief

that it could be possible.

I didn't know how or anything else, but the belief

in some of those smaller things, or they're big to me,

I think God uses those to unlock bigger doors.

I didn't really believe I was going to be a singer,

I was going to get to stand onstage

with my wife and travel.

I would have never dreamed we'd have our own television show

or that somehow my skills of being a songwriter

could be used to tell the story of my wife, who's

going to have a baby and then have cancer and then

all the other things.

You don't know those.

You just believe in the smaller vision,

which is I believe that he could let me write songs

and he turns it into something else.

I think that's actually a nugget of maybe giftedness

that God places inside individuals,

because you came up a hard way.

I mean, your life today is not what your life

was like growing up so--

but through it all, through all of the moves

and the transitions with family and the struggle

financially and just all of that,

there stayed in you a belief that you were somebody

and you were to do something with your life,

even when you were making your own poor choices.

Right.

Well, I had some strange, probably not a good belief,

but I had a belief that an ordinary life

was going to be disappointing.

I wanted to live an extraordinary life.

I thought an extraordinary life would

mean you'd be a famous songwriter or singer

or something like that.

As time goes on, as time went on and I realized

that I did get some of those opportunities,

you start to realize that the real extraordinary life,

a lot of times, is a much simpler life.

Yes.

To find the extraordinary in ordinary life

is so amazing to me.

To be on television, that's supposed to be special.

The other parts that I didn't think

were special are the most special,

but I didn't know that then and so I've loved--

I've loved the lessons, because for me, I

didn't know where I was going.

I still don't know where I'm going,

but I would have never dreamed this journey would lead us

here.

And that's the extraordinary aspect of your book,

to me, is the person who you are in the beginning, when

you start, to the dramatic place that God took you and it came--

the real heart of that started with a moment of surrender

that was very personal, just between you and the Lord.

Talk about that.

Well, you could point out moments of surrender.

There's quite a few of them.

Yeah, That's a lifelong journey I guess

And what it is that you're never really surrendering.

I have on my wall--

I have a notebook piece of paper that my wife

framed from a particular day where I was writing

a commitment to the Lord.

I'm so clear that I did not commit,

I know what happened after that, but I was trying

and I was making little bits of headway

and there were some big moments where

you took giant leaps of faith and they changed everything.

And one of those, for me, was just in a time

where music was going really well before Joey came along,

but I was incredibly empty and so I sort of

had a little bit of a time where I just was not sure

where I was going and I sort of ended up in a bus--

on a bus headed the opposite direction from the life

I was leading.

And I was always looking for God,

waiting for him to hit me in the head with a brick

and make somebody different.

Make me the person he would want me to be and give me

the life that I probably should have,

instead of the life I was leading and it never happened.

But one night on this bus, I kind of--

I ended up in a Greyhound station in Louisville

or somewhere and just looking in the mirror

and I think it really wasn't a conversion moment.

What it was, was a realization, looking

in the mirror, that maybe he is already here.

Maybe the guy I'm looking at in the mirror that I can't bear

is God's already inside of me, I just have to do the work.

I just have to get up every day, take one little step

towards being a different person than I was yesterday,

and that did make a difference.

The next day wasn't different, but the next year was--

Yeah--

And now it's--

now it's such a different life.

This is an amazing story about you and Joey and your life

together and her leaving life as we know it

and moving into a bigger, greater life,

and it's so poignant.

What do you think it is that draws people so completely

to you and to your story?

Well, I think it's my wife that draws people

so to our story, because she's so special

and I mean, for me, that's how I got to be part of it

and I think her--

I was just doing what I was doing, which is writing a story

and then she started living an amazing story

and she let me write it and we shared it together.

And how brave she was and how honest I was,

was a pretty unusual combination, especially for--

I tell people we're rurally famous.

So we're semi celebrities, but well-known enough--

well-known enough that people would pay attention,

so that they could see something they hadn't seen before.

I think the realness is a huge key to why people follow you.

It's an amazing story.

Encourage you to get it.

This Life I Live is the name of the book.

It's the life they've lived, but you know what,

It's the life we all live.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Appreciate it.

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