Emptied: A Conversation with Jonathan Pitts
In July 2018, Jonathan and Wynter Pitts were celebrating 15 years of marriage, preparing their family of 4 daughters for a cross-country move and putting the finishing touches on their co-authored book, Emptied. A few hours after Jonathan submitted the finished manuscript to their team at Harvest House Publishers, Wynter’s heart suddenly and unexpectedly failed and she passed away. Heartbroken and grieving but not without hope, Jonathan and his girls are carrying on, walking in the promise that they will see her again one day.
Hope For Women had a chance to catch up with Jonathan, see how he’s doing, and learn more about Emptied: Experiencing the Fullness of a Poured Out Marriage.
ABOUT THE BOOK
For a Marriage That Brims Over
Maybe you entered marriage with some pretty high expectations—most couples do. Jonathan and Wynter Pitts did. Until the reality of married life spilled into their expectations.
Jonathan and Wynter invite you on a journey to explore a different approach to your happily-ever-after marriage. Join them for an honest look at the lessons learned as they navigated the ups and downs of early marriage while raising four daughters.
Here you will...
be encouraged to remove the pressure of a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses marriage
learn to let go of assumptions and embrace your role as servant-leader to your spouse
experience how God can pour His purpose, passion, and fullness into your relationship
Emptied is a way of life. It’s not about trying harder, it’s about thinking differently. Only when you are emptied of your own self-focused motivations can God pour new life into you for the abundant marriage and satisfying relationship you long for. Are you ready to approach your marriage poured out, ready to be filled up?
A Conversation with Jonathan Pitts
Q: You write about turning in the manuscript for Emptied just a few hours before your wife (and the book’s co-writer) Wynter unexpectedly passed away. How are you and your daughters doing?
Jonathan: We are doing well. Turning the book in just a few hours before Wynter died was a reminder to me that God is in control and that He knows what he is doing. My girls and I have all been hopeful because of that reminder along with the fact that we trust the big God we serve. He has taken care of us and shown us his compassion and love in so many ways. Overall, we are doing really well!
Q: How has the timing of Wynter’s death in relation to finishing Emptied changed, or sharpened, your perspective on what you both wrote in the book – and who you wrote it for?
Jonathan: The greatest message that Wynter and I deliver in the book is to seek intentionality in marriage. We learned through experience that perfection isn’t possible but that with intentionality, moment by moment and day by day, your marriage can get better. In fact, with intentionality your marriage can become all that God created it to be. Turning in the book when we did is a reminder that only God decides how long your book – your marriage – will be. And I will forever remain grateful for the grace and strength that God gave Wynter and I to run our race well and to finish the task he gave us.
Q: You and Wynter came from such different family backgrounds. What was one of your biggest struggles as newlyweds as a result? And, what advice would you give to young couples in a similar situation?
Jonathan: My expectations of what Wynter should be can be embodied in two words – My mother. Her expectations of what I should be were just as extreme and are also two words – Richard Gere. Both of those perspectives came from our background and history, we we talk more about in the book. We joke about it in the book, but the reality is that we placed expectations on each other that were not fair. As we emptied ourselves of the things, we thought we deserved and the things we expected, God began to fill us with an altogether different heart for each other. One where we served each other from a place of selflessness. Again, not perfectly, but intentionally. I would tell young couples to come to the realization early on that your marriage isn’t about you. That is isn’t about your happiness. Don’t get me wrong, it includes your happiness, but its much deeper than that. The sooner you realize that the happier and more content you will be and you’ll come to realize that you’re developing an even greater joy at the same time.
Q: In reflecting on your fifteen-year marriage, you often say that it wasn’t perfect but it was intentional. What do you mean by that?
Jonathan: We mean that just like any other activity, perfection isn’t obtainable. Take even a pro-athlete. Whether you’re a baseball player or a figure skater, on your best day your just one wrong move away from a strikeout or a collapse on the ice. So instead of seeking perfection, seek the perfecter – Jesus Christ. As your coach and manager, he will give you the strength and the power to fail less and win more. He will give you the strength to endure the hard days and to find joy in the process. What you’ll find is that as you put your spouse first and serve them, you will find more joy and you’ll begin getting better at the task at hand. You will begin honing the craft of marriage and in so doing you will realize that you’re getting better and better. Not perfect – but at least better.
Q: What can readers expect from Emptied? What is your favorite aspect of the book?
Jonathan: They can expect raw and honest dialogue. They can expect to relate to us and our issues. They can expect to find a biblical world view that makes much of God and less of ourselves. Ultimately, they will find a love story that started with two very normal people. And though it ended too soon, they’ll come to find that it was an amazing story!
Q: Where have you found hope lately?
Jonathan: I’ve found my hope in the same place I’ve always found it. I learned a scripture a long time ago that says, “we have this hope as an anchor for our souls.” It’s found in the book of Hebrews and the author is talking about Jesus. My hope has always been anchored in Him. In his promise of eternity with Him. In his promise of eternity with those we love. In his grace and mercy that is holding me up and sustaining me – even giving me joy – in the hardest time of my life. Being with Wynter when she left this earth has had me closer to eternity than I’ve ever been before and what I’ve found is that I trust God more and put less faith in the temporary things of life. I’ve ultimately found my hope in the good news of Jesus and his forgiveness and promise of salvation. It’s an old message but it feels as fresh, new and exciting as it has ever felt before.
ABOUT JONATHAN & WYNTER PITTS
Wynter Pitts is the author of several books, including You’re God’s Girl! She is the founder of For Girls Like You, a bimonthly magazine that equips girls to walk boldly into who God has created them to be and to resource their parents to raise strong Christ-following God girls who say yes to His plans for their lives. Wynter tragically passed from death to life on July 24, 2018, after 15 years of marriage to her beloved Jonathan. She leaves behind an incredible legacy through her many writings but more importantly in her four daughters—Alena, Kaitlyn, Camryn, and Olivia.
Jonathan Pitts is an author, speaker, and executive pastor at Church of the City in Franklin, TN. Prior to pastoring, Jonathan was executive director at The Urban Alternative, the national ministry of Dr. Tony Evans in Dallas, Texas. Jonathan lives in Franklin, Tennessee with his four daughters.