Interview with Ann Swindell
Interview and Image 2 by Dianne Jago // Image 1 Courtesy of AnnSwindell.com
Ann Swindell has been a Deeply Rooted contributor since practically the beginning of our magazine. Over the years, I’ve been so encouraged by her Word-centered wisdom and God-given ability to string words together. I had the opportunity of meeting her in person at a conference early last year. It was there that she told me the general premise of her first book, which is found in the title: Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want. At the time, I didn’t know what her story was, but I remember feeling surprised that that was her topic as she is one of the most warm-hearted, happy-spirited people you will ever meet. Since getting to know her and reading her book cover-to-cover, I can attest that the joy that radiates from her is rooted in her knowledge of and faith in God. Her personal story, in conjunction with the story of the Bleeding Woman, is both beautiful and hope-filled. I’m excited for you to get to know her a little bit in this interview.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m quick to laugh, slow to wake up in the mornings, and always ready for chocolate. But more than that, I have the joy of being a follower of Jesus, a wife to Michael (10 years!), a mom to Ella, and an author, speaker, and business owner.
Share how you came to know Christ.
I grew up in a home where Christ was central, and—by the grace of God and two loving parents—I don’t remember a day when I didn’t love Jesus. He was always in my life, and I’ve loved him for as long as I have memory. I will say, though, that in college I read all the way through the Bible for the first time, and my heart was set on fire for the Lord in a new way. I found that the more I dove into Scripture, the more of God’s love and truth and kindness I experienced, and it changed me deeply; I wanted to know and love the Lord more than ever before.
When did you discover your love for writing?
I was always a bookworm, and even in elementary school, I loved writing stories. I kept a diary (one with a lock and key—do you remember those?). It was in high school, though, that I realized how much I loved writing and that I might want to pursue it in college. And then, when I went to Wheaton College, I had several professors who dynamically modeled a deep love for the Lord in their work as writers and teachers, and I knew that this was the path I wanted to pursue.
You teach writing courses through your business, Writing with Grace. What does writing with grace mean to you?
To me, writing with grace means writing for, with, and because of Christ. I taught as a college instructor of English for five years at my alma mater, and when we moved, Writing with Grace was born out of my desire to help others strengthen and sharpen their words while keeping Christ at the center of the calling of being a writer. Ultimately, I wanted to help other writers experience the unshakable joy of writing for Christ, writing with the Holy Spirit, and writing because of his purposes in the earth. We work toward excellence as writers because he is worthy, but we aren’t writing for approval or fame. We’re writing as worship, and that is what matters more than anything else. Getting to teach the Writing with Grace courses is one of the deep delights of my life!
Tell us about your new book, Still Waiting.
Still Waiting is my spiritual journey of learning to love and trust God in the midst of decades of waiting for him to heal me from a medical condition. More than that, however, Still Waiting is a book about how we can have deep hope and faith in the tender places of our lives, even when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we wish he would and know that he can. In the book, I’ve paired my story with a fictional re-telling of the story of the Bleeding Woman from Scripture because I love the faith and the hope that she displays after her own years of waiting. The book is unique in the fact that it has both fiction and non-fiction components, and I think both stories are richer because of it!
Did God teach you anything as you took the time to write this book and revisit your past?
He taught me so much! He taught me about trust and vulnerability and obedience as I chose to share such tender parts of my story with readers I may never meet. But—more than anything—God helped me to understand his presence in my life more clearly, because as I went back and prayed through painful and confusing memories, the Lord showed me how he was at work and that he was with me at every point in my life. I was never alone, even though it might have felt like it at times. This was honestly the greatest gift I received out of writing this book—meeting Jesus more fully in the process.
What would you share with those who are still waiting on God for something?
I would share with them the same thing that I tell myself: you are not being ignored. Every prayer is heard and will be answered, because this waiting won’t last forever. There is a day coming when you will be free and whole and complete. I promise. Christ is going to return, and when he does, the waiting will end, once and for all.
The pain and the heartache and the sorrow that you’re experiencing right now is very real, and it’s incredibly hard. Do not diminish your pain or belittle yourself in your struggle, because Christ never diminishes our pain or belittles us. He is present with us, choosing to weep with us and grieve with us over what is lost and difficult. But he is also pointing us toward a day when every prayer will be answered in its best and most wonderful expression. Some of us will experience the answer to those prayers in this lifetime, and there will be physical healing and relational mending and emotional wholeness now. But some of us will not experience the fullness of our prayers being answered until we meet Christ face-to-face.
While the waiting is hard, it is not the end of the story. Jesus has already written the end of your story, and it ends beautifully—with him.
So come with me? Walk with me toward Jesus? Let us keep walking with him, trusting him and choosing to follow him. Because we will find, even as we wait, that being with him is the best gift we could ever experience—even better than any answer to our prayers.
What is your hope for those who read your book?
My hope is that they will experience that God is good, and he is for you, even if you’re still waiting for him to change your circumstances. He is answering your prayer, although it may not be in the way that you want and in the timing that you want—it definitely hasn’t been for me. But in the waiting that you are experiencing—right here, in the middle of the mess and the hurt—this is where Christ is with you, and this is where you can experience his love and goodness. Because one day, none of us will be waiting anymore, and until then, we don’t have to wait alone. We wait with Christ, and we wait with one another—and these are beautiful gifts that can transform us and give us great hope and joy in the midst of our waiting journeys.
Where can we find you and your book?
You can connect with me and find out more about the book at AnnSwindell.com, and I’m online @annswindell. Look for the #stillwaitingbook hashtag online and join us as we share our stories of waiting and trusting Christ; I would love to get to know you!