For King and Country Star’s Wife Recalls Journey from Addiction and Anxiety to Freedom
By Movieguide® Contributor
Courtney Smallbone, the wife of For King and Country’s Luke Smallbone, shared how God’s grace freed her from the anxiety and addiction brought on by a rare disease and a morning sickness prescription.
“I felt so much shame for not being strong, and so I just didn’t talk about it. Especially in, you know, I come from generations of pastors and my husband’s in Christian music and so where do you have this conversation about anxiety and anxiety attacks and feeling overwhelmed by this doom and fear,” she shared with CBN.
Courtney explained that she was diagnosed with Lemierre’s Syndrome at 18—a rare infection that starts in the arteries and kills one’s organs.
Courtney’s time in the ICU brought on post-traumatic stress, nightmares and panic attacks.
While the doctors controlled the disease, Courtney continued to suppress her anxiety. Then, when she became pregnant with their second child, the post-traumatic stress reappeared.
“I had horrible morning sickness,” she recalls. “And so they gave me a prescription for it. And this prescription was interesting because, when I took it, I calmed down. So I would just keep taking it, high doses. My midwife was kind of questioning why I was still on it.”
Courtney confessed that she kept her addiction hidden from her husband and everyone around her, explaining that the pills made her feel better.
One day, though, Courtney’s addiction took a sudden turn. While Luke was at a show in Texas, Courtney was home and “started shaking and shivering and having suicidal thoughts.”
“My heart was racing, and I just knew I couldn’t do it alone,” she added. “And he didn’t know this was going on, I was hiding this from everyone. And I called him, and I said, ‘You need to come home.’”
Luke recalled that phone call: “It was actually a fairly frantic phone call. And up until that point, I had never received that phone call before, and I said, ‘Well, you know, well, what’s going on?’”
“I can’t get off of this pill. Like I’m not okay,” Courtney explained. “I had just shoved it down, shoved it down, just pain, trauma, anxiety, fear, all of it just came out that day.”
Luke flew home, and while she seemed fine at first, her hands began to tremble, and she wanted to take one more pill to get her through the night.
In that moment, Luke realized the severity of the problem and took her to a mental facility the next day. Courtney checked into an outpatient facility for a few weeks and detoxed, all while seven months pregnant.
“I felt all the shame. I felt like, ‘Courtney, how did you get this far?’ Like, ‘Why can’t you just get in line? Why can’t you just get your stuff together?’” she said. “And I remember walking in and just silently praying like, ‘Lord, you have to use this. Like, you have to show up, because I’m not okay.’”
“And it’s in this place of vulnerability that he undid my shame. My shame started unraveling and I received grace in a whole new way,” she recalls.
She started digging into the Bible and realized that she “can’t add to what Jesus has done for me, and I can’t take it away by anything bad that I could do. I just received this grace. And it was overwhelming.”
Soon, she began to improve, and the facility discharged her.
A few days later, Luke found her in the bathroom, flushing away her pills.
“My mind is not surrounded with anxiety and fear,” she reveals. “I would have never thought I could have a life without anxiety attacks, and a life of freedom.”
“I used to feel like a victim of life, of when life would get hard. I didn’t know really what to do, and I feel like my life now is when hard things come and pain happens, I know I’m going to be okay.”
“I know that God is healer and that God can do anything, and nothing’s impossible for Him.”
Her fight inspired For King and Country’s song “Burn the Ships,” a call for listeners to move on from the pain of their pasts and look towards the future.
Movieguide® previously reported on why For King and Country shares stories of hope:
“We write these songs in these little rooms and in some cases they are your stories of hopes and dreams,” Luke said. “When you release it, it’s for the world to hear. So far, people have been very kind. Art is a subjective idea. In some cases, you can sign up for people getting really angry.”
“Our hope is to make a piece of music in an album that tells a full story,” he continued. “I want track eight and nine to be as important as one and five. Who wants the end of the story to be lame? We try to write albums that tell a complete story. One that will have some connection with an audience.”
Despite their tour hiatus, the Smallbones said they were thankful for the chance to set aside some of life’s distractions and focus on family.
“It was a gift,” Luke explained. “We were all very settled and we’d be able to sleep on the songs and ideas. Then we’d get up and put holes into the songs that we wrote the previous day. It was the most enjoyable writing process.”
“The pandemic taught me valuable lessons,” he added. “What I realize about being too busy is that it makes me a worse husband and father. It’s not good for my soul. My life shouldn’t be infiltrated by work. For the most part, when I’m home, I try not to work. We will have a family day.”
Luke also shared some of the inspiration behind the new album.
“I’ve had some unique stuff take place in my life and I remember thinking, ‘Why do these things happen,’” he said. “When I started music, I felt God say to me that these things happen because these are stories that reflect hope. It’s real and it’s true.”