Since 2007, Megan Alexander has been a correspondent for the news magazine show “Inside Edition,” as well as a contributor to programs on CNN, HLN, and Fox News. She’s interviewed celebrities ranging from Garth Brooks to Candace Cameron Bure to Charlie Sheen. But Megan is also a lifelong Christian who stays true to her beliefs in a secular industry. She wrote a book about that called “Faith in the Spotlight.” And now, the mother of three has also penned a children’s book called “One More Hug.” She joined me recently on “Christopher Closeup” to discuss motherhood, media, and staying true to her beliefs.
“One More Hug” is a delightful and meaningful book for children, ages 4 to 8, that will touch their parent’s hearts as well. It was inspired by Megan’s oldest son, who is now eight. She explained, “When he went to Kindergarten and first got on the bus, he had some anxiety and he would run back to me for one more hug. He must’ve asked me five or six times for one more hug. He was the last child to get on the bus. Just as the doors are closing, he’d look back at me and smile and wave, but look a little nervous. And this has been our thing, where he asked me for ‘one more hug, Mama.’ He just needs that extra reassurance. And my husband and I started saying it’s our little phrase with him. There’s always time for one more hug.”
The book follows a boy from infancy through his departure for college, and readers witness the difference that unconditional love can make in a child’s life. Megan believes the story is especially important for boys who are often conditioned by our culture to keep their emotions bottled up. She said, “We want to create a safe place for [boys] where they can…always share their feelings as they get older. That’s what the story is. It’s a journey, not just of a mother and a son at a young age, but [a reminder to] our little ones that as they get older, they can always run back for one more hug.”
Megan’s parental compassion and wisdom come in part from the example set by her own parents. Her father worked as a financial advisor and always treated the security guard in his building with the same respect and friendliness that he treated the CEO. And her mom taught her to keep an eye out in school for people who might feel left out – and to be open to new relationships when she felt the same way.
Megan said, “My mom told me once when I was lonely in elementary school, ‘Go sit on the bench by yourself. This is an opportunity to meet new friends.’ And that was such great advice that I’ve taken with me, whether it’s attending corporate gatherings by myself, not being afraid to introduce myself to someone when I’m the new kid on the block. In the broadcasting world, you have to move around a lot because you move from market to market when you’re starting out. [Had it not been for Mom’s advice], I don’t think I would have had the confidence to show up by myself, and I would’ve missed out on so many neat friendships with different people. So I think God can use us when we allow ourselves to be available to Him and seek out new friendships and new people.”
God has been a part of Megan’s life from the beginning. She attended a Christian school while growing up in Seattle and, of course, she had her parents as her primary model. But she really decided to claim her faith for herself when she was in middle school. That’s when she asked herself, “Okay, I’ve been raised this way, but what do I believe? Do I believe in Jesus Christ myself? Am I going to really go have that personal relationship?” Her answer was “Yes.”
As her media career progressed, Megan managed to stay true to her beliefs while working in a secular industry. She also learned to discern when it was and wasn’t appropriate to share her beliefs in a professional setting.
She explained, “I wanted to be known for good work first. Gain the respect of your colleagues, that you will deliver for them, you’re a team player, you’ll get the job done….I enjoy working in television and turning a story and making deadline. So I really think doing good work first gains you that seat at the table where you then can have a platform to share. And for me, I spend so much time with my colleagues, whether it’s breaking news or when we’re covering the Super Bowl, we’re together for nine days straight. You develop relationships and get to know people. And I think so much about life is relationships and friendships. We have been with each other through hard times, deaths of family members, births of babies, marriages, divorces…That’s when I think you get a chance to share how you get through life and what helps you and brings comfort. For me, it’s my faith…But I would say number one, do excellent work first to get that seat at the table in the first place. Then, as you go, ask the Lord for His guidance on when you should speak and when you should not. I think it is a case-by-case basis, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to live out my faith because I know at the end of the day, God has me where He wants me and He can use anyone anywhere.”
That “seat at the table” is crucial in the bigger picture, too. Christians often lament that they are not well represented in the media and popular culture. At the same time, they may wonder how a practicing Christian can survive in such a secular medium. Addressing that issue was the reason Megan wrote her first book, “Faith in the Spotlight: Thriving in Your Career While Staying True to Your Beliefs.”
“Let’s not forget the Bible is full of dysfunctional people,” Megan told me. “People that didn’t feel they were equipped or ready or didn’t know what to do, whether it’s Moses or Aaron or Daniel. And God said, ‘Don’t overthink it. Just go. I will tell you what to say or what to do when you get there.’ So I think part of it is – we need Christians and believers in all walks of life, in all industries, in all areas….At the end of the day, we just don’t have enough believers that have taken their seat at the table and are in the mix offering up one more opinion when you’re deciding what story to cover or what project to be a part of. I would love to see more believers get involved in our industry – or any industry that they feel called to because..I think it comes down to enough people raising their hand and offering up another viewpoint.”
(To listen to my full interview with Megan Alexander, click on the podcast link):