For the past couple of weeks I’ve been emailing Christian authors to ask if they would consider reading an advance copy of Spiritual Misfit to offer a possible endorsement. [endorsements are those snappy statements praising a book, usually on the front and back covers, and usually by other authors and leaders. Truthfully, I think the only people who read endorsements are other writers.]
Can I just tell you how humbling and awkward this feels to me?
Granted, some of the people I’m asking I know well, so that’s all fine and comfortable. But then there are the ones I call the “reach asks.”
These are authors I read and admire but don’t know personally – people who I think might find something that resonates in Spiritual Misfit and therefore be willing to say a kind word about it; people who are a little more well-known than the crowd I typically run with (that crowd being my Moby Dick-loving husband, two boys and a pet lizard). This process is a little like cold-calling in the olden days – except now you do it by email. You craft what you hope is a well-worded compelling email about the book, you shoot it into cyberspace, and then you wait. And sometimes wait and wait and wait.
Some people accept (and you do a cartwheel in your living room). Some people decline graciously (and you understand but somehow still feel snubbed). And some people don’t respond at all. And those are the ones who keep you up at night. Because you wonder. Do they think I’m an annoying schmuck? Do they think my theology is all whacked out? (I don’t have a theology, just in case you’re wondering). Did they peek at my blog and think, ho hum, whatevs, no thanks, I’d rather get a bikini wax than read that?
You can drive yourself crazy with the wondering.
Until you read this:
“Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your letters are written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. This ‘letter’ is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is not carved on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:-1-3, NLT)
I understand why it’s necessary for me to get endorsers for my book; I get the nature of the process and how publishing works. But I also know these endorsements really don’t matter in the end.
What matters isn’t the pithy praise or awesome accolades someone else might offer about my book, but my life itself – what I say, how I act, how I love, how I encourage, what I do in the name of God. What matters in the end is what my living, breathing, everyday, ordinary life says about God. My own life is the praise. My own life is the accolade.
Because the thing is, friends, your whole life, and mine too, is an endorsement of God’s holy power. Your whole life is an endorsement of God’s love, hope and redemption. You and I are endorsed by God, have been from the get-go, from before the beginning of time. And this endorsement, this “letter” as Paul says, is not written in pen and ink or pixels, but with the Spirit of the living God. It’s not carved on tablets of stone or penned onto fancy embossed paper or shot into cyberspace, but emblazoned on our hearts, on your heart and on mine.
A changed life is the only endorsement we really need, and let me tell you, once and for all, my life has been changed by God. My life is a living endorsement of the power of God to change one lost, wayward, hopeless, desperate soul into a woman on fire for God.
And just the fact that I wrote that sentence and didn’t flinch is one loud, bold, living testament to the fact that God transforms people in big, bold, beautiful ways.
God transforms us, he endorses us, and we, in turn, with our very own lives, endorse God. Our lives are a testament, an endorsement, of his mighty, mysterious, life-altering, wild power to transform. That’s it, the be-all and end-all of endorsements: the way I live, the way you live.
Let me give you one little piece of advice, because you know I always learn this God-stuff the hard way, right? This is what I learned these last two weeks:
When you go looking for endorsements, look no further than God, your own self and the people around you. Look at what he has done in you, and look at how that has impacted others. And then you’ll know, without any single shred of doubt:
A holy endorsement is the only one you’ll ever need.