Back in January, I saw a post from one of my favorite authors about a book launch team she was putting together of “regular people” to help her launch her next book, “For the Love”. I went ahead and applied and then promptly forgot about the whole thing. About a month later, I get an email that I am one of the “10%” who was selected to be on the launch team. Apparently, 5,000 people (mostly women) applied, and her publisher chose the 500 who would be on the team. I have no idea why I was selected. I’m honestly guessing that it was random. But I was. And I am grateful.
You may have seen me post on Facebook about the book. This post will be partly about the book, but more about how being a part of the launch team has changed and impacted me.
The book’s tagline is “Fighting for Grace in a world of impossible standards”. How true is that? I think it I would have read the book before it had a title, I would have said the title should be “Let’s Stop Being Jerks to Each Other”. It’s a good thing I’m not a writer or a book titler.
Here’s what I put in my endorsement of the book (which, by the way, is on the book’s website).
This book is a reflection of how the Bible tells us to live as Christians – brought to life with both humor and heart. It will touch you deeply in places you may not have realized needed touching, and it will literally make you laugh out loud. If you don’t know Jesus yet, you will love how much you connect to the words on the page. It’s very literally a must read for our generation!
I regret the “must read for our generation” part. How cliche and lame is that?! Oh well…
What I was trying to say is that this is a book that gives us a take on what it looks like to live out Christ in our current context. The book starts with inviting us to evaluate what’s on our plates (or beams as the analogy in the book suggests). We don’t need to be perfect at everything. When did we start deciding that was a requirement? Did Pinterest start that for us? I hope not. I personally love Pinterest, but in no way should we start deciding that’s the gold standard. As Jen states in chapter 1:
We need to stop trying to be awesome and instead be wise.
She encourages us to determine who God made us to be and to do THAT. To find what is life-giving and edifying in that and focus our energy there. If you’re not an extreme birthday party planner, don’t try and be one. You do you. I so very much love that.
So, enough about the book itself. You need to read it. That’s my thesis on that. But I need to share with you what the book launch team did for me. Besides getting to pre-read the book (which yes – was pretty cool), a close Facebook group was created. And something magical – no, something Christlike – happened. Four hundred and something women (along with 4 men who we lovingly referred to as the #bandoffour) somehow lived out the words on the page – both the Bible itself as well as For the Love. Prayer requests were posted around things that had been met with judgement by other “real life” Christians. And the judgement never came. Small groups were formed based on commonalities, and no envy or jealousy ensued. Meetups occurred with like-minded women and new friendships formed. I experienced this myself! James and I have connected with one friend and her husband from the launch team who live 15 minutes from our new house. What a blessing that has been. I also met up with 5 other of the “Colorado girls” and hope to connect with the ones we missed soon.
T-shirts were made, a gal started making For the Love leather cuffs, another gal made us mugs. It was this huge tribe that also felt intimate and comfortable. We talked about everything from online dating to adult coloring books to how great it would be if we could all get together. And Jen Hatmaker herself popped in from time to time on our little board and posted fun things.
And then it happened. We subtly (ok, it wasn’t subtle at all) suggested that a launch party would be a cool idea. Jen and her publisher noticed, and finally we were officially invited to a launch party at the Hatmaker farmhouse in Buda, TX. Two hundred or so of us appear to be going, and it will be great fun. The “Colorado Girls” have a house rented down there that will house 13 women on the Saturday night before Labor Day.
Here’s the lesson – and perhaps the question – in all this. While it has been amazing to be a part of the #500, we aren’t special. Why is it that we’ve had this beautiful experience of a judgement free zone? Surely not just because we read a book. Jesus did that, I think, and he can do it in “real life”, too. This is so very much what I want Fringe to be about. Let’s love because we are called to love. Not because it is always easy. Let’s leave judgement at the door. Sure – other people may do things differently than us. And that’s ok. Sometimes it may even hurt, but let’s not retaliate or be reactionary. Let’s go to each other with our hurts and talk it out – and gracefully leave the situation if it can’t be resolved. Let’s be quick to love and slow to judge. It’s possible. I’ve seen it and continue to see it every day on my precious For the Love Launch Team Page.