How did you come to write these books and how do they relate to each other?
The first manuscript I wrote was actually on a completely different subject, and not related to me or my own story at all! As I worked with the publisher, though, he kept asking for more about my own experiences. Initially I was reluctant to do this, as I didn’t believe the manuscript was meant to be about me! However, as I prayed it through, it felt right, and, in the end, Less than Ordinary? turned out to be the story of my struggles with low confidence and low self-esteem and the way God was bringing me through them. I would never have set out to write it, but God in His wisdom knew how to make sure the book was written!
Losing the Fig Leaf develops the theme of being set free by God and living in the freedom he created us for. It looks at the early chapters of Genesis and examines what it means for human beings to be created in God’s image and likeness. When they had eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve tried to hide, both from God from and one another, behind trees and fig leaves. The book then goes on to look at some of the modern-day ‘fig leaves’ we hide behind today, and ways we can step out from these hiding places and live in the freedom God wants us to have.
What do you think is the most important message for someone who is suffering from low self-esteem?
The problem with low self-esteem is that those who suffer from it rarely realise it. It’s just who we are. I would say that, in many ways, the key lies in other people loving and accepting us for who we are, and enabling us to understand our own worth. But the most important thing for all of us to understand and receive for ourselves is how much God loves us. When we know we are loved, we feel able to be ourselves, and that brings tremendous freedom and boosts our confidence.
Why do you think it is difficult for people to be ‘real’ with each other in today’s society?
There’s so much pressure today to ‘fit’. The media tells us we need to look a certain way, and we must have the latest smartphone and wear the latest fashions in order to be happy. Society doesn’t allow much room for differences, although it is slowly changing, I’m pleased to say. But we put pressure on ourselves to conform to what we think the world wants, and what we think other people want from us or want us to be like. The church needs to be presenting the message that we are all created to be unique, and embracing and celebrating our differences. Fortunately, I was encouraged in my own church to understand just that, and that was the beginning of my journey to freedom.
Less than Ordinary? is based on your own story, but what sort of research did you do to write Losing the Fig Leaf?
I wrote Losing the Fig Leaf while I was studying part-time for my theology degree. As we studied the first few chapters of Genesis, I developed a real fascination for them and for what it really means to be made in the image and likeness of God. The subject particularly struck a chord with me as I could identify with hiding and finding freedom in the person God had created me to be. The idea for the ‘six Ps’ came as I was preparing a sermon, and it grew from there.
What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
I am often privileged to be invited to preach or speak at conferences and breakfast meetings, etc, and to share my story. It’s such an encouragement to me when people tell me that they have found my books helpful, and that they’ve made a difference to their lives.
What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your books?
We were created for freedom, and for a purpose. God has a purpose for each and every one of us, and that purpose is different for us all. I pray that people will be inspired to find freedom for themselves and to discover God’s unique purpose for their life. There’s a bigger picture involved here too, and we all need to find our part in God’s kingdom, and work to transform the world for Jesus.
What are you working on now? Are you planning another book?
Ooh, I’d love to. I do have an idea for a new writing project, but life seems to have rather taken over in recent months! I’ve written a few bits and pieces – such as an entry in the Association of Christian Writers’ Christmas Anthology, for example. I hope to have some time later in the year to start writing properly again.