My book, The Invisible Girls, turned 2 this month! I woke up this morning thinking that, just like parents on their child’s 2-year-old birthday, this month is a chance for me to sift through two years of memories, remembering everything I’ve learned, all the ways I’ve changed, and how incredibly naive I was in the beginning!!!
My book launched on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
My publisher had arranged a national radio tour, so at 4 a.m. I sat in the front office at my church waiting to go on the air. (I was up at 4 a.m. because there were radio stations on the east coast that wanted to do a live interview during morning drive time, and I was at the office because you have to use a landline to do radio interviews.)
I was too tired to make a pot of coffee, so instead, I opened a Starbucks DoubleShot can and poured it over ice.
As I waited for the radio producer to call me, I sat there in the dead pre-dawn silence, thinking.
The Boston Marathon bombing had happened just two days before, and some of the radio stations I was talking to were in Boston.
I felt nervous, excited…and inadequate.
What should I say to people who are hurting — whether it’s from this tragedy or a different one?
What did I have to offer the world?
The answer that came to me in the cold silence was love.
Tell people that no matter what happens they are held in God’s unconditional, infinite love.
Tell people that the absence of love is the root of every problem we face in our world, so the infusion of love has to be the beginning of every solution.
I did 25 interviews in four hours. The next morning, I got out of bed at 3:30 a.m. and did it again.
Then I started traveling to speak, telling people about how God loved me when I nearly died of breast cancer in my 20’s, how God loved the Somali girls I met as I was recovering from my treatments.
Over the past two years, I’ve stood in front of audiences in Oregon, California, Texas, Mississippi, Washington, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, Illinois, Kansas, New Hampshire, Maryland, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Germany and told the story of how much God loved me and The Invisible Girls, and how much God loves the world.
After my talks, I’ve had conversations with people at the book-signing table, hugging everyone from bullied teenage boys to inspiring college students to grieving fathers to lonely widows.
I’ve learned that…
-Publishing a book is a lot of work. And by ‘a lot of work,’ I mean, ‘the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done.’
-Publishing a book is a huge honor. And by ‘a huge honor,’ I mean, ‘one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.’
-There are a lot of experts who know a lot more about the world than I do.
-There are a lot of people who do writing, speaking and blogging better than I do.
-I am a finite being who is loved by an infinite God.
-The world is broken, but it’s also stunningly beautiful.
-The world is thirsty for love and hope.
-The world is full of humble and kind people of all ages, races, economics and walks of life.
-All of us exist to show God’s compassion and love to other people.
-God’s not waiting for a one-in-a-million, perfect saint to change the world. Instead, God’s waiting for a million imperfect saints with broken wings and bent halos to love each other and the world.
-My life from here on out will not be measured by what I accumulate (a resume, dollars in a 401 (k) account, square feet of prime real estate) but by what I give away.
-My life is a gift that God has given me, and the next chapter of my life is about learning the ways in which I can give that gift to others.
I have a second book contract, and I’m in the process of writing some rough drafts, exploring what the predominant theme of that one will be (pray for me if you think of it!)
But this week I’m spending time with a friend in Santa Fe, just for fun. And for the next few days, I’m going to take a breath and reflect on the past two years. I’m going to laugh at my mistakes, remember the wisdom I’ve gained, be grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, send a prayer of love to all of you who have supported me and the Invisible Girls, and shake my head that God hasn’t given up on me yet.
And then I’ll smile and shrug my shoulders.
Because who knows what happens next.
Want to help me celebrate the book’s birthday? Buy a copy (or ten) to share with friends, or put the word out on your favorite social media site. Gracias!