Q&A with Annie F. Downs: Remember God
What inspired you to write Remember God and choose to share your story about wrestling with God’s kindness?
It’s the conversations my friends and I were really having—that’s always what inspires my books. What is actually going on in my life and the lives of the people I love? I walked through such a unique season and wanted to wrestle down what was actually true about God. Figuring out whether He is actually kind felt like a journey that could (and did) change my life.
How is this different than your other books? Who did you write this for?
I’ve never written a book this personal. It still feels so fresh and true to me, even today. God and I still circle around this conversation from time to time to reflect on these words, and sometimes it brings peace and sometimes it brings questions.
Every book I write, I picture the person (or the crowd) I’m writing for. And I was thinking of my friends, the ones in real life and the ones on the other side of the page, that just have to figure out if God is really who He says He is. But honestly? For the first time ever, I wrote this book for me, too. I needed to see in black and white what I had lived, and learned, and seen. I needed to write this book so I could read this book and learn how to remember God for myself.
It’s often hard for Christians to accept the truth that the story we believe God is writing for us (from our limited perspective) is always a good one, despite the suffering and the need to continually lay down our longings/desires at His feet. How have you seen this in your life the past few years?
But honestly, do we really believe He is writing the story? That’s the question I’ve had to ask myself. If I really believe He is writing it, then all these chapters and all these moments and all these stories matter. They all come together, they all line up, they are connected in a way that will bring God glory and bring me joy. That is what I have seen in the last few years—when I really open my heart and eyes to believe that God is who He says He is and He can be trusted, He has shown Himself incredibly faithful.
God is kind. Yes. But there’s a big but…it sure doesn’t feel that way at times (a lot of the time?). Can you offer some encouragement and stick-to-it-ive-ness for believers to hang onto in the midst of the gales that come to us emotionally/physically/spiritually?
Everyone wants something. The trick isn’t to teach yourself to stop wanting. The thing we need to do, and teach each other to do, is learn to want well. We will always want. We will always suffer. We will always be surprised by tragedy and surprised by love. It’s the nature of being a human. The more I have allowed all these things to exist in my life, versus closing my heart to one or the other, the more I have seen God’s kindness and felt Him near.
Even if readers aren’t currently wrestling with the “Is God Kind?” question, how can they encourage their friends that are struggling with that?
I think any question we ask about God can probably be simplified down to a question of God’s kindness or love. So no matter what people are struggling with, we can take the conversation there. It’s not a bandaid, and it’s not blowing smoke to really sit with a friend and think through ways God HAS been kind to them. To remember Him. To call back to your mind the ways you have been extravagantly loved and seen by God, even if your story doesn’t look the way you thought it would.
What is your hope for readers after they finish Remember God?
I hope they feel known. And seen. And I hope they start to ask a few questions about their own relationship with God that walks them closer to who they really want to be and closer to a God who loves so deeply.