Stepping Into Book Signings
Have you ever been to a book a signing? You know, someone famous or at least semi-famous in your eyes wrote a book. They have arrived to sign their books for adoring fans.
Yeah, me neither.
Until a few days ago. To be honest, I've always been a little skeptical in Christian circles. Should we really have "Christian celebrities"? Aren't they just people like you and me using their gifts for God? Should I really stand in line for hours so they can sign my book or whatever? Am I not doing a service to God's kingdom by boycotting the book signing altogether. I mean someone has to keep all the egos in check!
Truth be told, maybe it's just jealousy. Someday I hope to write a book that others read. I like to get tips from these famous authors and speakers for when I publish my book or books and attend events to sign books for my adoring fans.....or, back to reality....
All this to say, I never really intended to get my new book by Jen Hatmaker signed. She was coming the MOA (Mall of America) for you non-Twin Cities folks.
My friend Heidi refers to her as her best friend. I always counter, " I thought I was your bestie". It's a running joke we have. But I never expected Heidi to "tell me" we were going. Like so many other book signing events, I thought I would wait for it to pass in the comfort of my own living room watching HGTV.
No such luck - it was Heidi's birthday week. And if you know me at all, you know how seriously I take birthday weeks. As a present to Heidi, I was going to "suck it up" and meet an author I admire.
As we got in line for the 2nd time (the first was for the wristband to gain entry), I had some tensions to be managed. Is Jen a celebrity or just using her gifts for God's kingdom? Is she like you and me? Can I ask for her autograph? Can I learn from her - here and now?
We waited in line an hour an a half. We discussed what we would say. I developed a game plan in case my friend began to ramble. We ran into someone from church - but couldn't remember her name. And we enjoyed a night out together - celebrating Heidi and her birthday. What a privilege!
As you may have already guessed, I learned a few things from our time in line and from watching my new buddy Jen.
Christian Mentors Not Celebrities
One of my favorite moments of the night happened when they introduced Jen to the line waiting for her autograph. There was cheering. There were phones held high taking her picture. Like she was the president. Or a rock star. Not to say, that's she not a rock star, but you know.
Her response: she whipped out her own phone and took a video of us herself. WOW! I felt like her response was one filled with grace and love and assigning value not just to herself, but for those waiting to meet her.
Maybe I'm reading too much into her response. Maybe all that wasn't thought through. But I love that she wanted our picture just as much as many of us wanted hers. And instead of making her a celebrity, I'd love to look up to her as a mentor and leader. One I can learn from. One who helps me process what success in my business means.
Life Is Not A Formula
After an hour and a half, we finally made it to the front. In those last moments in line, we had a little debate running. You see, years ago we went through Jen's study 7. 7 is a study on living with less. It's a discovery in living more simply to focus on God.
My debate with Heidi circled around our execution of the principles of 7. For instance, the first week involved food. We were to choose 7 foods that we would eat for one week. Only 7 foods and no other. One of us chose 7 foods - one of us chose categories of foods - like fruits and veggies. Ahem....
When we approached Jen, we shared our experience. She had two thoughts for us. It's challenging. Agreed. And it's not a formula. The fact that life is not a formula can be challenging for us rule followers in and of itself.
So often we get caught up in following the rules and doing everything just right. And while there's nothing wrong with rule following, sometimes we forget to focus our hearts. Sometimes we make following the rules more important that listening to our hearts. What do our hearts need to learn? What's the underlying lesson God wants to teach us? Can we accept that we can't follow the rules and control the outcome?
Good words Jen!
Life is not about the waiting, but who you wait with
Normally, I'd be annoyed with waiting for anything - standing in a line - for an hour and a half. The reality is the time passed quickly. And before we knew it, we were getting to ready to meet Jen handing our books over to her assistant.
The bonus of the wait was spending time with my good friend - celebrating her birthday - and blessing her with something she was so excited about. Meeting someone who has ministered to her greatly.
This applies not only to book signings and famous people, but in real life. How many times do you and I want to bypass the wait? How many times do we ask God to shorten our wait? IN what ways do we focus on the thing we're waiting for and forget about the people walking with us. There is courage in embracing the wait and enjoying the people who walk with us.
In the end, stepping into a book signing was an act of courage. Because if I'm real with myself, I look up to those who write well and speak well and use their gifts for God's kingdom. And, quite frankly, you never know when God will use our everyday experiences to teach us about Him, His kingdom, and ourselves.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and about the last book signing you attended! I love books, don't you know!