Ann Swindell is an author who has gifted the world with tender words in multiple publications. She helps others find hope and realize that they are not alone in their struggles whether they are looking to grow in their own writing or their faith. She teaches writing courses, speaks to women throughout the country, is a wife, and a mother.
In her debut book “Still Waiting", Swindell addresses a persistent problem our souls know well. In a culture consumed with convenience, heavy feels the weight of waiting. Swindell reminds the reader that they are not alone, vulnerably revealing her own story of waiting, as well as exploring the story of 1st century biblical figure the Bleeding Woman. Both stories transcend individuality and meet the reader in their own. Swindell writes, "Whether we're waiting for physical healing or emotional wholeness or spiritual break through, we are all waiting for out brokenness to be mended. We wait because we are broken, and we are broken because we are waiting."
I had the privilege of interviewing Swindell about waiting, writing, and where true hope can be found.
Waiting is a universal experience, but one humanity has continually failed at walking through well. Why do you think this is?
I think it’s because waiting is hard! Especially in the current cultural climate, waiting is seen as something that’s bad or wrong—we don’t even want to have to wait to mail a package or for our coffee; we see waiting as a hurdle to be crossed. But the reality is that waiting is embedded into every aspect of our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not, because so much of our lives are outside of our control. The job that we lost, the health that’s in jeopardy, the relationship that’s struggling…we don’t always have the ability to make things better, and so we have to wait. We have to wait because we can’t change things based on our own strength or ability—we have to wait for God to change them for us.
We are all tempted to throw fits when not receiving what we want when we want it. In an instant gratification driven world, what value does waiting have?
I think that waiting has immense value—although it’s not usually the path we would choose for ourselves because it runs so perpendicular to how we want our lives to work. But waiting helps to reveal our truest desires. Maybe we thought that we really wanted a particular job, when what we actually wanted was to feel connected to a bigger purpose in life. The job represented purpose to us, but we couldn’t really know that until we had to wait for another opportunity. Once we acknowledge those deeper desires that waiting uncovers, we can pursue things like purpose with a focus we might not have had otherwise. I also think that waiting helps refine our character. When we don’t get what we want right away, how do we respond? Do we sulk and complain, or do we choose gratitude for what we do have, even if it’s not what we want? If we let it, waiting well will strengthen our character in powerful ways.
You have taught college level classes on writing and have written for many well-known publications on various topics. Why did you choose waiting as the topic for your book debut?
Waiting is one of those experiences that I just couldn’t get out from under for years and years, and I realized that it has shaped the bulk of my life, even though I didn’t want it to, because I’ve been waiting for healing for decades. I developed the condition of trichotillomania—a hair-pulling disorder—as a child, and I kept waiting for it to go away. But there’s no “cure” for trichotillomania in the classic sense—no medication or therapy that will end it for everyone. For most people, trichotillomania will be something they struggle with over the course of their lives. For me, I realized that waiting for healing from this condition for over 20 years has shaped me into someone who is constantly waiting—waiting for God to heal me when no doctor can, waiting to experience beauty even in this broken part of my life, waiting for hope in unexpected places. Waiting is part of my identity now, and when I started to write my story, I found that waiting was at the core of who I am. The book poured out of that place.
Hope often feels foolish, especially when the waiting has continued for years. What would you share with the person who has given up on hope?
Hope can feel so tenuous, especially when the thing we keep hoping for—healing, a spouse, a child, a good job, whatever it is we want—doesn’t come to pass. And honestly, a lot of times what we’re longing for may not happen. We don’t have any guarantee that it will, and that’s a painful reality. But I have found that as I have put my hope in Jesus, rather than in what I want, my heart has become free. I still want healing, a great deal, but I’m not as frantically desperate for it as I was before. I know that I’m loved and known by God, and that gives me hope over and above the unanswered longings. So I would tell someone who has given up on hope that hope won’t disappoint you—if it’s set on the right things. It’s true: you might not ever get the thing you’re hoping for. But, like me, you might find that as you ask God to help you trust Him, you might actually get something a great deal better: peace.