Since shooting to fame on the 10th season of "American Idol" in 2011, country star Lauren Alaina’s popularity has continued to grow, with chart-topping albums, books and even a Hallmark movie under her belt.
But while the Rossville, Georgia, native’s world continues to change at a rapid pace, her anchor remains in Jesus Christ.
“My faith is the foundation of everything that I do,” the 27-year-old singer-songwriter told The Christian Post.
“I was very fortunate to be raised in a Christian household and to be taught early on. And as I've gotten older, I've defined my faith even more for myself. I think the thing that's the most important about it to me is that it's constant. It’s the one thing I can always count on. My life is all over the place and very unexpected, and it's a very different life than most people live. The Lord is my one constant that I always can rely on. And that's so nice, living such a hectic, crazy, unbelievable life — and beautiful life, it's amazing. But it's unexpected. So to have something that I know is always there, it's just so important.”
When Alaina reflects on some of her most formative experiences, she’s quick to see the role her faith played in sustaining her, from her stepfather’s death in 2018 and her parent's divorce to a public breakup and her past struggles with an eating disorder. The multi-platinum-selling singer shares these experiences and more in her latest book, Getting Good at Being You: Learning to Love Who God Made You to Be.
In addition to personal stories, Alaina shares practical tips, tools and encouragement for the reader’s own personal and spiritual growth in her latest book. Every lesson she shares, she said, is based on her own — sometimes hard-learned — experiences.
“When I wrote the book, I really wanted to write it from a perspective of, ‘These are the things that I've been through, and this is how I got through it,’” she said. “Being on the other side of it, being healed, I just want you to know that it's possible; you can get through it.”
“I kind of had to go through all of these things to become the woman I am,” Alaina added. “And we're all going through things. And this book felt really necessary to me at this time, because it has been a time of brokenness and fear. And we all need love and healing right now … after the two years in this pandemic, I think we could all use a little extra healing and a little extra love.”
Though she’s publicly discussed her battle with eating disorders before, the artist dives deeper in her latest book in an effort to remove the stigma surrounding related health issues. A Harvard study conducted in 2020 found that 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.
“I really deep dive into it in the book, explain kind of how it was established in my life, how long I really struggled with it and why, and all of the health problems that I suffered with because of the extreme choices I was making to be thin,” Alaina said.
“I didn't know how to tell my story without that, because everything in my life, as far as a brand, is kind of shaped around that experience. Because when I went down the journey of loving myself and accepting myself for who I am, I was inspired or pushed to do that because of my eating disorders.”
Alaina described herself as the “most outgoing, loudest person in the room at all times” — proving that oftentimes, a joyful veneer can mask a deeply hurting soul.
“You would have never thought when I was 19 years old, bubbly, loud all over the place like I always am, that I was struggling so severely internally,” she reflected. “And I think it's like anything, the more we talk about something, the less that stigma kind of goes away. And the more that we all realize, hey, this is a real issue for a lot of people, and we need to figure out a way to get these people help and … get ourselves help.”
The topic of grief — one the artist stressed many are familiar with after a particularly difficult year — is also featured in Getting Good at Being You. When her stepfather died after a battle with cancer, Alaina said, her faith was “really tested.”
“I felt very alone. I felt like [God] wasn't there with me, but my grief was clouding that. He of course was there,” she said. “In traumatic experiences like that, I think that we sometimes want to play God; like, we think if we pray enough for something that we think should happen, that it’s what's going to happen. However, none of us are god. We don't have all of the answers.”
The day her stepfather died, he “described Heaven” to his family, the artist shared — “and the peace in the room was indescribable.”
“He had been in so much pain, tremendous, tremendous pain, and it seemed like all of the pain in his body left, and he was reassuring us and telling us who he saw — his mother, and Jesus. It was truly a gift to our family in such a traumatic time,” the “Road Less Traveled” singer recalled.
After writing her book, Alaina said she felt “Iike a survivor a little bit,” adding: “I did have an overwhelming sense of pride and vulnerability. I'm a songwriter, so I'm always writing from a vulnerable place, but they’re three-minute songs. So to really deep dive into what that three-minute song was about — each chapter is titled after a song of mine, so to really kind of deep dive into that was it was intense, but it was really, really worth it.”
The artist is now gearing up for her headlining "Top of the World Tour," opening in February 2022. Alaina’s tour comes on the heels of her third studio album, Sitting Pretty on Top of the World, which was released in September and included her collaborative single with Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him.” Her Hallmark Channel film, “Roadhouse Romance,” also released this year.
“I tried to keep myself busy in the pandemic so that when I came back I came back with a bang,” Alaina said with a laugh.
But whether she’s writing a book, penning a song or performing before thousands on stage, the artist said she wants her fans to be uplifted, inspired, and recognize their God-given worth.
“If you look at me and you think I’m inspiring and super confident and all of these things that seem unattainable — listen, I get up every single day, put my pants on one leg at a time,” she emphasized. “And I would just say that with book and the music and stuff, I'm always trying to humanize myself because I am no better than anyone else. I just happen to be able to sing. That’s the only difference.”
“I just want to be a source of love and guidance as much as I can and inspire others to be nice to themselves,” Alaina added. “If anything, just please be nice to yourself. Let me be an example of that.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com