Today is Team Dan & Rachel’s ninth anniversary and so far we have celebrated by staying home, eating a frozen lasagna, drinking cheap red wine, and watching SNL reruns…because that’s EXACTLY what we needed after last week.
I was in Georgetown, Kentucky speaking to the delightful folks of the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship last week when my phone started to ring. The Huffington Post, The Guardian, People Magazine, The Today Show, The View—everyone suddenly wanted to talk about A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Early reviews came pouring in. Many were good, but some were bad. Some people called me a heretic; others accused me of mocking the Bible I so love. In the middle of all this, I gave a lecture on how to handle criticism with a thick skin and tender heart. I cried on the airplane on the way home.
After Kentucky, Dan and I had just one day to run to the mall and get something decent to wear for the Today Show. (Dan has spent more on clothing in the past four days then he has in the past nine years…which, believe me, says more about the past nine years than the cost of our fancy J.C. Penny/Belk media-wear.) Then it was off the New York City, where, like a big country bumpkin, I asked the barista at the Starbucks on 44th and Broadway about store hours. “Um, 24?” she responded, confused.
We met up with some friends in the city, which was a good way to distract ourselves from that heavy sense of anticipation that followed us everywhere we went. This would be Dan’s first interview ever.
You have to get up early for the Today Show. It’s kind of like a Benedictine monastery in that way. I told the ladies in hair and makeup that I felt like I was getting ready for the Hunger Games and they were my Cinna. Dan says I laugh really hard at my own jokes when I'm nervous. Everyone was super-nice, though. Natalie said some really kind things about the book, which I don’t exactly remember because I was mesmerized by her high, high heels. We didn’t get to meet Barry Manilow, but he was around there somewhere.
The interview went well, I think. I confess I haven’t watched it back. I guess I still feel a bit too fragile to indulge in the inevitable self-critique.
By the time we got home we had booked The View…which, unless our planes get blown away by a hurricane, should happen live on Monday. Dan can now correctly identify Barbara, Whoopie, Sherri, Elizabeth, and Joy, so we’re good to go.
All of this has left me with little time to process, which for an INFJ is utterly exhausting. I’m struggling to write, struggling to make sense of everything, struggling to accept both the criticism and the praise. Obviously, the blog has suffered, and I thank you for your patience. We’ll return to our “regularly scheduled programming”—the Esther series, the Women of Valor features, “ask a” interviews, Sunday Superlatives, etc.—as soon as things have calmed down a bit. Next week is release week, so expect some excerpts, giveaways, and announcements.
The only thing that has emerged with total clarity in all of this is just how thankful I am to have Dan by my side. He has listened, he has fielded calls, he has drawn boundaries, he has responded to critiques with wisdom and grace, he has cheered me on, he has aced interviews, he has been strong, he has been vulnerable, he has been funny, he has shopped. Never in my life have I been happier to be in this partnership.
We were driving to Chattanooga for something like the 29th time a couple of days ago, with the windows down and the golden light of fall streaming in. We were tired, listening to NPR, enjoying the quiet, speaking only to remark at the color of the leaves. And in that moment, I felt happier than I felt sitting on the set of the Today Show, happier than I felt watching my Amazon rank jump up (and then go back down), happier than I felt when a stranger grabbed my arm in Times Square and said, “you did great!, happier than I felt when a woman emailed me and said that for the first time in 20 years she was interested in reading the Bible again because I’d helped her believe that maybe it wasn’t just bad news for women. And I realized in that moment that these little joys—golden light, pleas for listener support on NPR, relationships, long stretches of open road—belong to us all, always. Fifteen minutes of fame won’t make us happy, but fifteen minutes of mindfulness just might.
I am so grateful—for all these opportunities, of course, but mostly for the kindness of other people: the reader who shoved a $50 Starbucks card into my pocket at a signing; the flight attendant who gently patted my arm; Dad’s idea to make my favorite comfort food for dinner and Mom’s faithful execution of pork loin, rice, and fried apples; Marvin and Brandon at Belk; Dan’s shoulder; a call from my sister; readers who pile into minvans and drive many miles just to talk, friends who understood why, with all this good publicity, I would just need a good, long cry.
And I am grateful for you—for your support, your patience, and your continued readership. This project has been a wild ride from the beginning, and I get the idea that we’re on the last big, scary drop.
Let’s just hope I don’t throw up on Barbara Walters.