Lauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and host of the Finding Joy podcast and Finding Joy Ladies Night Out. She is in the process of publishing her first book, Into the Deep: Diving Into a Life of Courageous Faith, which releases Nov. 6, 2018. Diagnosed with an incurable genetic disorder (Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), Lauren is passionate about encouraging others to fight for faith and keep hope alive — no matter what. When she’s not writing, Lauren loves to cook, bake and go on hikes with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who is affectionately named Reese after Lauren’s favorite candy, peanut butter cups.
Beyond the standard introduction above, there’s a few things I want to share to help you get to know the real me on a deeper level. Click on the boxes below to learn more.
I remember the night everything fell apart like it was yesterday. I’d just come home from a long swim practice and found my dinner wrapped on the counter, ready to be microwaved. I scarfed down the steak and potatoes and headed immediately for my room, so I could work on homework. And that’s when it happened. My first anxiety attack.
In one single moment I went from feeling fine to feeling like my life was over. The attack was so horrendous I couldn’t get it out of my head the next day. The scenes from that night played like a bad YouTube video on repeat in my mind. I wondered how I could let myself get so out of control, and I was afraid that if it happened once it could happen again. And that night, I had another anxiety attack.
One-by-one they kept coming. Night after night, month after month, I laid in bed powerless to the waves of anxiety that were overtaking me. I’d grown up in the church and given my life to Jesus as a child, but I didn't know how to exercise my faith, and when God didn't make the anxiety go away, I began to doubt Him.
It was a slow process, but as the months went on, I began to let the anxiety attacks destroy my faith. When I looked in the mirror I no longer saw a power-filled daughter of God. I saw a detestable, pathetic shell of a human being who was a slave to anxiety.
It wasn’t until a few years later, when God brought a counselor into my life, that I began to understand who my Heavenly Father truly was and what that meant for me as His daughter.
I’d been a “Christian” my whole life, but in this moment it’s like I was understanding faith for the first time. By His grace and with His guiding hand, I began to seek God with everything that I had — relying on Him for every need while claiming His word over my life.
Every day I remind myself that no matter what I face:
I am a daughter of the One True God. (John 1:12)
I am loved more than I could ever imagine. (John 3:16)
I am a living work of art — a true masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
I am more precious and valuable than jewels. (Proverbs 3:15)
I can trust God because He is faithful. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
My God will never fail me or forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
My God is working all things together for my good. (Romans 8:28)
It was one thing to read these scriptures growing up, but finally knowing and claiming these truths changed my life. I began to see when I exercised my faith, I really could do all things through Christ, as Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13. In Christ I was not helpless or alone. In Christ I could rise above the waves and be fearless ... I could rest in the shadow of His wings, and I could overcome whatever struggle came my way.
Looking back, I'm so glad that God taught me those lessons when He did, because five years later, when I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobility (EDS III) at age 23, I needed His truths more than ever before.
Living with a chronic illness like EDS III is not easy. (I write more about living with the connective tissue disorder here
.) There are days when the pain is unbearable. Days I want to give up. Days I cry out to God in angst, desperately crying out for Him to heal me. But in this journey, as in my journey with anxiety attacks, I have found profound beauty and true JESUS JOY along the way. And I have experienced a closeness to God that I am eternally grateful for.
Getting out of bed is hard some days, but with each faithful step I take, God continues to reveal more of himself to me. Day by day He continues to pull me further out of darkness and into His glorious light.
You see, there is a darkness but we don’t belong to it. And not only do we not belong to it, but it also has no authority over us.
God is bigger. God is stronger. And He can give us the faith we need to overcome anything the enemy throws at us.
As I mentioned earlier, there was a time I let my struggles define me, but I’m not going back there — to the darkness, to the night, to the overwhelming pit of despair. Because I’ve been called into the light — into abundant life. And so have you. And we don’t have to even entertain the darkness because as children of God it’s not who we are. It does not define us.
- - - - -
A few more things: Today I am married to my high school sweetheart. We met over Blizzards at Dairy Queen back in 2009, and I am still head-over-heels in love with him.
I am an entirely self-taught chef and baker, and I love developing new recipes. I actually used to be a food/faith blogger, until I felt God call me to full-time ministry. You can check out my old recipes here
I am a storyteller. I believe stories are powerful, and I love how God uses them for His good. I write and speak to motivate and inspire others to experience abundant life in Christ.
I am particularly passionate about encouraging women to fight for faith and go deeper in their relationship with Jesus.
As a woman who suffers from a connective tissue disorder
, I also write and speak about what it looks like to walk with Jesus through pain and suffering.