Jeff Short chats to author, Niki Hardy, about her open and honest book coming out in the UK in September. A book about how to break free from the suffocating survival mode, find abundant life, and discovering you were born to thrive and not just survive.

Breathe Again

Jeff: From the bits I've read it sounds as if there have been times when you thought your life was falling apart.

Niki: More than falling apart. I thought I might actually lose my life. I was diagnosed with cancer just six weeks after losing my sister to cancer and six years after losing my Mum to cancer. So I really thought this deadly missile of death had locked in on me.

Jeff: I should think so. But you're here to tell the story and share the story, which is the motivation for writing the book really, isn't it?

Niki: And more than that. The motivation wasn't just about sharing my story but it was about helping others with the help that I needed when I was in that situation. I found myself as a cancer survivor which is what they call you the moment you're diagnosed; just doing that, just surviving, barely hanging on. Then I met people who called themselves thrivers - cancer thrivers. And I thought oh, I want that.

God promises us his abundant life but then the storms hit. And we often put off living life to the full because we're in the middle of the storm. For many of us our storms never end so surely he didn't mean that and how can we find more of him when my cancer's less. So it's a really practical guide to thriving and not just surviving.

Jeff: That's a lovely contrast - surviving and thriving. You make the point in the book having a full life, the abundant life that the bible talks about when life doesn't seem full; you might be in pain. It doesn't have to be pain free for you to have a full life.

Niki: That's right. So often the world has told us that a full, abundant life is happy, healthy, wealthy, pain free like the curated pictures we see as we scroll through Facebook in the checkout line. I don't think that's what God meant. I think he meant a richer, more connected, intimate, peaceful, joyful life even in the midst of whatever life has thrown at us. I really do think it's possible even when life isn't going so well.

Jeff: For some people, they wouldn't even be looking to God. You've got some wonderful one liners which I will shamelessly steal at some point in my life I'm sure. One of the all time classics, which I've used on this show once already, that God isn't mad with us, he's mad about us.

Niki: I wish I could say that was my line but I think Rick Warren said that, and I was quoting him. We immediately think if life is falling apart, I have done something wrong and if I could only figure out what I was meant to be learning that God was teaching me, then everything would be alright. I think we live in a very broken world and stuff happens. Good can come out of it but I don't think he's mad at us.

Jeff: You explore this concept of I must have done something wrong, I must have upset God and all those things and say very powerfully this isn't the case.

Niki: We believe a number of different lies about our self and about God when our world falls apart. We can think it's our fault, that the ramifications are going to go on forever and that every single area of our life is going to be affected and often that is not the case. I think God has an amazing amount of truth that we can lay out on top of those lies and get rid of the lies and hold on to the truth.

I get really practical in the book because I had a lot of inspiration about things that I needed to do and think but I just couldn't; I didn't know how. I take people through how can we practically trust God; how can we embrace the journey; how can we be vulnerable with people and how can we find community and be brave and trust God.

Jeff: You also say it doesn't have to be a physical illness. It might be the house that's being foreclosed; you might be wrestling with a partner who's strayed, or you've suffered all sorts of mental or emotional things. But this is an encouragement to find the love of God underneath it all.

Niki: That's right and his abundance. Somehow we can laugh when we want to scream and we can find peace when we're feeling quite fearful. What I've come to learn through my journey is that somehow I can be feeling hope and despair all wrapped up in one. These emotions aren't separated. And to allow ourselves to live in that space which is very odd.