Q&A with Lauren...
Q: What inspired you to write your new book, Into the Deep: Diving into a Life of Courageous Faith?
A: I should have drowned years ago. When the waves of anxiety, depression and chronic pain came crashing over me, the “faith” I’d been raised to practice couldn’t keep my head above the waves. But I didn’t drown. I’m still here. Because by God’s grace, in the undertow I discovered a deep faith in Jesus that saved me from sinking into the depths and catapulted me straight into His rescuing arms. He saved me from drowning, and my hope in writing this book is that He might use my story to help save others who feel like they are drowning too.
Q: When did you first experience bouts of anxiety? What were some of the situations that brought on the feelings of anxiousness?
A: I started experiencing anxiety in high school, after a traumatic event triggered panic attacks.
Q: You are very open about your struggle with chronic pain and the recurrent anxiety and depression that come along with it. How did your physical issues cause you to lose faith? Tell us about how you’ve learned to overcome these challenges.
A: Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos is a nasty disorder — I truly wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. One day, you can wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a bag of bricks or two semis. Other days, you can’t move without being in pain or risking injury from loose joints making bones pop out everywhere. Having unstable joints means arthritic pain is a constant companion and makes it hard to do “normal” tasks like lifting bags, exercising or evening cutting vegetables for dinner some days. These difficult physical challenges made it hard to keep faith in the beginning because I didn’t understand why God wasn’t healing me. When I finally opened my heart to the possibility of healing, bad turned to worst, and it made me question everything I believed in. After years of diving deeper with Jesus, at the end of the day, no matter what pain I experience, I know in the deepest parts of my soul that I will be OK. Not because of who I am, but because of who God is. He is a good, good Father. He is always with us and always for us, just like His Word says He is. He cannot not be faithful and His Spirit — the very hope of Christ — lives in me. When I think about all of those things, I find everything I need to overcome because the Jesus in me is stronger than the waves of darkness that try to overtake me. In Him, I have nothing to fear.
Q: After college, you sought out the help of a Christian counselor. What did you learn about the connection between your struggles with your faith alongside your battles with anxiety and depression?
A: I learned that God wasn’t punishing me with anxiety and depression, instead, He was allowing it as an opportunity to deepen my relationship with Him. I also learned that having anxiety and depression didn’t make me any less of a Christian, it just meant I had different areas I had to learn to trust God with. In this case, that involved areas of mental health.
Q: One of the chapters is entitled “Six Things You Need to Know.” What are the six things you want to make sure readers will take away from this chapter?
A: I believe words have immeasurable power. That’s why I’m a writer. That’s why I strive to think long and hard about the words I choose before I write or say them. That’s why I fight daily to speak life, love, hope, and truth over myself in order to drown out the cruel, untruthful things others have spoken over me. Words are powerful no matter what we are going through, but they are even more powerful when our faith is tested. I wish I could forget some of the things people said to me when the waves of life came crashing in. “You’re never going to get over this,” they told me. “This is going to haunt you for the rest of your life.” Or my personal favorite, “Do you have unresolved sin in your life? Maybe God is punishing you for something.” When we feel like we are drowning, we are susceptible to believing the lies and hurtful things we hear from the outside world. What I want women to know more than anything, is that in their hurt:
1. God is not punishing you.
2. You are not alone.
3. You are going to be OK
4. Darkness does not define.
5. You were made for the deep.
6. God’s love will carry you.
Q: The book ends with a series of stories about warriors of the deep. What can women learn from these stories? What makes a woman a warrior?
A: This is one of my favorite chapters of the book. There is nothing more powerful and inspiring than a testimony! These women are warriors because they chose to give God a chance and take Him at His Word. Every day, they choose to place their past, present and future into His hands, and because of that choice, their deep despair has been replaced with a deep faith and faith to overcome anything that comes their way. They are warriors because they have learned to let go and let God. And that? That is true faith.
Gaskill has written a book that shows how her faith struggled through anxiety and chronic illness. It also shows how she developed a courageous faith to "swim" through those deep waters. The purpose is to help the reader learn to exchange their fears for courage, too.
Numerous personal stories are shared in the book, along with scripture verses and reflective questions to "Go Deeper." The author is genuine and transparent, which will likely make this book relatable to many readers, as everyone will face deep waters at some point. Gaskill outlines practical strategies, along with examples, to help the reader when they feel they are drowning by reminding them that Jesus is there to be their lifeline.
Some of my favorite quotes include:
- "When we fight for and step into faith, God's Word and His promises begin to unfold in our lives."
- "Beloved, you were not meant to live a life crippled by fear."
- "Faith is our compass in the deep."
- "The secret to surrender is trust."
- "Faith is not the absence of fear but the presence of courage."
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher as part of the Read with Audra blog tour program. I wasn't required to leave a positive review.
Amazon purchase link
Excerpt from chapter one
Where you can find Lauren online...
Excerpt from chapter one
Lauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and host of the Finding Joy podcast and Finding Joy Ladies Night Out events. After being diagnosed with an incurable connective tissue disorder, Lauren made it her life mission to encourage others to fight for faith and find joy — no matter what life’s circumstances might bring.
Gaskill is a storyteller who believes stories are powerful and loves how God uses them for His good. She writes and speaks to motivate and inspire others to experience abundant life in Christ. She is particularly passionate about encouraging women to fight for faith and go deeper in their relationship with Jesus. Gaskill also writes and speaks about what it looks like to walk with Jesus through pain and suffering.
She lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Where you can find Lauren online...