Has there ever been a time when your deepest, darkest, bottom-of-your-belly fears about yourself have been put on the table? I’m talking about the fears that are so troublesome it would feel terrifying to speak them outside your brain, for fear that someone might not immediately refute them.
It’s been five months since we released Wild and Free into the world, and I can tell you – by the grace of God, that process involved very little fear for me. I didn’t fear what my family would think of it. I didn’t feel fearful about people reading in depth parts of my story. I didn’t really worry about people not liking it, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I went in knowing that “being liked” isn’t the fruit you write a book for. But what I didn’t anticipate is that releasing the book would stir up some of the bottom-of-my-belly-fears and put them on the table for the world to see.
Here’s the thing: EVERYONE tells you not to read negative Amazon reviews. But I’ve never been great at taking advice. So before I go any further, I should say, I don’t think all negative Amazon reviewers are meaning to attack. I don’t think they set out to hurt any humans, I don’t think they’re awful people. I believe that they think they’re helping – giving everyone else a heads up, so they don’t have incorrect assumptions when buying something, and I can see how that seems helpful. if you’re a negative Amazon reviewer – I ain’t mad at you. But maybe I can offer a different perspective?
Out of thousands and thousands of women who bought Wild and Free, there are less then ten negative amazon reviews and a few of them are kind of silly. A few are innocuous, and a few left me in the fetal position because they took my bottom-of-my-belly fears and made them into a catchy phrase, that is so catchy it stuck with well, me. They implanted in my head and heart, and sat on top of my soul – until I was too scared to move or try again.
“A Caesar Salad When You Wanted a Prime Rib: Delicious but Still Unsatisfying” I don’t know, guys. I don’t know. I don’t know how to describe to you how much that fear has lived just beneath the surface of my life for so long other than just to say it has. I really think that fear lives under the surface of the ministry of every person who REALLY CARES about wanting to help people ever. And what’s more: We’re scared your opinion won’t be about the work we’ve done – but about US. That we are somehow found wanting. That we are somehow not meaty enough. That we are lacking substance.
I sat all summer with that phrase rolling around in my brain. When I sat down to write: I’m a caesar salad. When I shared with friends over coffee: I’m a caesar salad. When I talked to my kids about God, I’m a caesar salad. When I got quiet in the shower, went on a run, prepared to speak to churches: I’ve been found out. I’m just a caesar salad. I gave that book all I had, and it wasn’t enough. What I thought was deep and shifting, was “delicious, but unsatisfying”. To be honest, I’d much rather be satisfying – not delicious, amen? I think it sounds a lot better to have a message that doesn’t go down easily, but ultimately really provides some nourishment.
I found myself wanting to hunt down that sweet gal who wrote the catchy salad quote. I wanted to tell her that I USED to be try to be a prime rib, that I spent most of my early twenties pouring over heavy theology books and throwing around phrases like dispensation and propitiation. I spent conversations weighing deep and heavy things, critiquing other believers and their theological stances, debating details of scripture till I was blue in the face and heavy of heart. I wanted to convince her that if she REALLY knew me, if she heard me talk about being wild and free, if she saw the women I saw locked up, trapped and tidy, far from God when He is SO NEAR TO THEM – she’d know. Wild and Free isn’t a caesar salad message, and I’m not a caesar salad girl.
But instead of hunting her down, I asked the Lord: “Do you think I’m a ceasar salad? Do you think this is a caesar salad ministry I’ve got over here? Am I enough? Should I keep going? I’ve got to write this second book and I feel SO DUMB. I feel so dumb, so lightweight, so fearful that now only more people will know what that woman knows: I’m not a genius, I’m not a spiritual hero. I’m not Beth Moore or Jennie Allen or Elyse Fitzpatrick. Lord, why did you let me get into this mess if I’m only a caesar salad?”
Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” 1 Corinthians 1, MSG
Over time, over reading the Word, talking with wise friends and my husband and sitting in prayer – I remembered the heart of God and heard this back from Him: So what if you’re a ceasar salad? What if I’ve made you to say simple truths over and over and over again, until the women of God hear them, believe them, and live them? Won’t it be enough of a job, of a ministry, to tell women over and over again that I love them, that I’ve chosen them, and that I’ve set them free? Won’t it be enough to remind them to pray, remind them to read the Word, remind them to serve one another and to get vulnerable and to repent and to not quit? Won’t it be enough to remind them that there is abundance waiting for them? Who says that the simple things of the gospel are not MEATY, NUTRITUOUS, and ETERNALLY SHIFTING? Who says you’re not called just because you’re not someone’s cup of tea? Who called you a ceasar salad? Not me.
So a few nights ago, I ate caesar salad with some trusted ladies that I love and we prayed and I may or may not have burned a few amazon reviews printed out on paper. Not because I hate the women who wrote the reviews or I think they’re evil – but because I needed to show the Lord that I believe what He says about me and my ministry more than I believe anyone else.
I needed a reminder that my call is to repeatedly tell MYSELF and the women of God the simple gospel. The simple gospel is enough, it’s life changing, and I know that I know that I know that I know it. I receive it, I give it, I live it, and I am being changed by it. And CHRIST, is my righteousness. Christ is my affirmation. Christ is my prize. Christ is my King. Not any review, not any opinion.
So I’m sharing this for two reasons today. #1) To say, I’m writing a new book. I’ve put it off for weeks because of fear and overwhelm and life, but I’m diving in this week. I’m scared, humbled, broken and scared some more. It feels very different than writing Wild and Free, but it feels like what the Lord wants. I’d love your prayers for wisdom and boldness, but also just for the women who will read it. The second I can share more about the title, etc – I will! But for now, it will be out in October 2017 and I’ve got a LOT of writing to do.
#2) I want to remind you that the simple truths God has spoken over you weigh more than a million opinions. He has called you GOOD – not because of who you are, but because of who He is. If you have faith in Christ, He has called you REDEEMED. He has called you WORTHY of love. He has called you JUSTIFIED from the sin of your past, present, and future. He has called you an AMBASSADOR. He has called you His. And that’s the best identity of all.
In Jesus’ name, Let it Be.