Answers to questions no one asked

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So it’s funny, or a little bit funny. I haven’t felt much like writing a blog post this week because I already said a lot of what I needed to say in my book with the world’s longest title. Also, I’m trying to market it. When I think about writing, I get excited and ideas start popping up and ricocheting around and my brain starts to compose and I need to get to a keyboard so I can get it all down. When I think about marketing…I want to eat chocolate and drink.

But I do have a few things I want to share, some serious, some less serious.

Here’s a serious one: I’ve been talking with a lot of people about the book. I need it to do well. By that, I mean if I’m to keep writing, I need to succeed at writing. But I didn’t write this book because I thought it was my best shot at writing something popular, selling a ton of books, or (God forbid) making money. I told a friend today that the book feels like pastoring: I saw a need felt by a lot of people I love, so I tried to address that and speak some hope. I know we have a lot of discouraged, exhausted people. I am, too. So I tried to write the book I would need that no one else had written.

I truly believe we are in a crisis, as a nation and as a people. I’m not going to downplay or sugarcoat that. If you don’t believe it, well, I’ve given up trying to convince people that the house is on fire. I’ve decided, right or wrong, that it does more good to rally the people who acknowledge the fire to come try to fight it than scream at those who disagree while the flames get closer.

Here’s how I describe it in reflection 17:

If we were in my house, you and I, and I heard a noise that suggested someone might be breaking in, I would tell you. If I heard more noises that reinforced my suspicion, I would hope you would hear them, too, but failing that I would describe them to you, urgently, and assume you might share my concern. How long would this process have to go on before I got frustrated that none of my evidence of a break-in persuaded you? In this situation, I’m not sure I could say, “Well, to have good boundaries, we need to understand that others may not agree with us and accept that with grace.” I see other considerations, like our lives being in imminent danger. Or how my wife might feel, coming home to a house robbed of our belongings or me injured? Would I just shrug it off and agree to disagree?

Probably not. I think I would proceed to respond to the emergency regardless of your belief or disbelief. I’d have to. I wouldn’t have a good category for why I had failed to convince you—you’re intelligent, you understand cause and effect, you’re not in league with the thieves—but I’d have to let all of that go. Yes, it would be easier to deal with this crisis if you were helping, certainly if you were acknowledging the reality of what was happening to us, but failing that, I would have no choice but to address it myself and sort out our failure to communicate later. 

Have you felt this way?

I had to write this book because it’s what I could do to help. We all have to do what we can. I need to know for my own conscience that I have done what I could. I don’t know if we’re looking at four more years of this or if we get to start healing and recovering soon. But I wasn’t going to look back and wish I had spoken up.

That leads into a funny, pastoral topic. Okay, maybe a little funny. Okay, maybe funny but not funny “ha ha.”

I know friends who speak up much more boldly than I do. I also have many who are very dear to me who tell me “I’ve been encouraged by your willingness to speak out and put your thoughts into words – something I am not often brave enough to do.”

I get why some people have difficulty speaking up. For many of us, there is much at stake. Relationships, family acceptance, church acceptance, job conditions, in some cases even employment security. It’s been a process for me, too. As I’ve mentioned here on a few occasions, I take criticism (and everything else) too personally. I didn’t just magically get over that. I’m still not over that.

If you get attacked for trying to speak up, even if those attacking think they’re “helping” or “correcting” or “teaching,” that’s bullying. In fact, that’s mini-terrorist tactics, trying to make it so costly and miserable when you do speak up that you’ll decide you’re not willing to pay the cost.

I know I’ve messed up a number of times in trying to be bolder. I know what my intentions are, as well, and I know God has grace for my screw ups. I’m intensely grateful for that. I think as God helps me to let go of caring too much about everyone’s approval, I’m able to focus more on how Jesus is leading me, how to help people who feel beaten down, and how to be bold while showing grace.

That’s my hope, anyway. Some days, I get close.

Funny thing (see a theme?), but when you’ve had something so front and center in your mind for months, it takes a little while to transition to anything else. I finally got a real paper copy in my hands today (several friends beat me to that–they got their published versions before I got an author proof). I was mesmerized–words on paper in a book look much more serious, but they still started as the thoughts in your head–and a touch nauseated. I haven’t found any mistakes yet, but…

Here are some other quirky things bouncing around in my head, answers first, Jeopardy style, then the questions they answer..

  • 1,750
    How many times can you hit the refresh button on your book’s sales page in one minute?
  • You get a book. Duh.
    So what’s the difference between this “Hey, you should buy my book!” campaign and a Kickstarter campaign?
  • I considered giving the first two pages of the paperback this heading: “Praise For Authentic Faith: Feeding the Soul in Politically Divided Times“, and then leaving them blank except for a note in parentheses:
    • “(Please write legibly.)”
  • What was your best idea that you didn’t use?

Thanks for being on this joyride with me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support and encouragement I’ve received for this book!

I keep thinking about my article on kids seeking asylum. It was on right here on this blog getting modest attention, just minding its own business…and then Relevant published it and it went viral. Same words. Same article. I think a lot of people have a strong need for the encouragement in this book. I need the stars to align for those people to notice it, but I don’t have a star-aligning machine. Truthfully, efforts at marketing feel like waving my hands at the stars. But the needed words are in the book. Same words, same book. So maybe pray with me that God would align some stars…or someone(s) influential would advocate for the book. I’m open to any star-moving God wants to do.

Whatever happens, I’m glad I offered what I could.

2 thoughts on “Answers to questions no one asked

  1. Trish G

    I loved your “someone’s breaking in” metaphor.

    One of the confusing, crazy-making things is having friends not just oblivious, but providing the spare key to the intruder and passing over the deed to the house ~

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