Milk and Honey Magazine article with author Lauren Miller on her new book All Things New about overcoming anxiety and stress with help from Jesus!

Getting Over Panic Attacks

Amy Cummins

Struggling with anxiety/panic is hard enough, but as Christians, there’s an added level of stigma attached to it: as if our anxiousness stems from a lack of trust in God, or an immature faith.

It’s a dilemma no one understands more than author Lauren Miller. As someone who struggled with panic attacks all throughout high school and college, she’s well-aware of the challenges that come from anxiety disorders and the misunderstandings surrounding them, which she addresses in her newest book, All Things New (avail as of August 1!).

Far from than being a heavy read, though, All Things New is uplifting and hopeful. It follows seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray as she navigates the aftermath of an accident that leaves her looking as broken and scarred on the outside as she feels on the inside.

Fleeing from her life in Los Angeles to live with her dad in Colorado, she meets Marshall, a boy with a heart defect whose kindness and generous spirit help draw Jessa out of her walled-off self into a truer version of herself.

If you’re looking for an addictive read, we can’t recommend the book enough. Or any of Lauren’s writing, for that matter! She’s an ultra-talented storyteller with her heart firmly fixed on Christ, which is evident in her work. Let's get to know Lauren!

What inspired you to start writing for the young adult audience?

I never planned on doing it! My debut novel, Parallel, started as a television script in which the main character was in her late 20s – my age at the time. When that script didn’t sell and I decided to turn it into a novel, I assumed the character would stay 27. But as I started writing from her point-of-view, I realized that her voice wasn’t 27 but 17. The late teen girl voice just came really naturally to me, so I went with it.   

Tell us about your faith. How does it find its voice in your writing?

I love this question. Writing has always been an act of faith for me. Meaning that, I write because I think God wants me to do it, and I believe that every idea I’ve ever had for a story I’ve gotten from him, the creator of all stories. I don’t think I come close to executing these ideas perfectly -- my job is to take the seed of an idea that God has given me and do the best I can to craft a narrative that says something about what I think he’s up to in the world. All of my books have gospel themes but I try not to be too overt about it. Partly because I think it’s more interesting when literature is complex and layered, but also because I don’t want to turn anybody off.

Why do you think it’s important to write Christian books for a secular audience?

Jesus didn’t come for the well people. He came for the sick. He came to bring hope to the hopeless and to be a light in the dark. There is so much negativity and darkness in young adult literature today, and I feel compelled to try to counterbalance that as best I can with stories that are honest and relevant but also hopeful.

How do you hope readers will respond to All Things New?

Mostly, I hope my story reminds readers that all of us are hurting and none of us is alone. My main character, Jessa, suffers from anxiety, which is incredibly common in our culture. But the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that she suffers from are even more pervasive than that! We’re all trying to measure up and prove to ourselves and each other that we’re worthy of love. The great news is that God loves us in our most broken state and he is always at work in his creation, bringing light to our dark places and dead people to life.

What advice would you give your 20-something self?

Stop worrying about how your life will turn out! God has a plan and nothing you do will screw that up. I used to be so afraid of making the wrong choice – career, relationship, whatever. Now I see that there’s joy – and fun! -- in the journey itself, and that even the mistakes can be woven together to create something beautiful.