Slowing down

Last fall I was having panic attacks. My first book was coming out, my infant was having health problems and I had overbooked my travel schedule. (Our healthcare system + mysterious health issue = stress, fear, crippling anxiety.) I threw myself into caring for my son and tried to keep up with the rest of my life, but I couldn't. The stress overwhelmed me. I couldn't do everything. I canceled a bunch of trips. I set aside the million op-ed ideas I had to promote my book. I had worked seven years on this book and when it came out, I could only do so much.

I focused on my son, who is in great health now. I continued to work, but at a more reasonable pace. I hired a publicist. I saw a therapist. I asked family and friends for help. I took deep breaths and meditated.

My whole life had led up to this book. It's about losing religion and, through journalism, finding a movement of marginalized people rebuilding faith communities rooted in authentic social justice and radical inclusion. (It's called Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism.) I had to accept the fact that my book would find its way into the hands of my audience without my guidance. Slowly, over time, it did.

There were heartfelt messages from readers, crazy wonderful starred reviews, dream interviews (like the time I was a guest on NPR's On Point), speaking gigs and more. Perhaps the biggest development came when a pastor reached out to me. She wanted her entire church to read my book. When others began reaching out with similar sentiments, we decided to launch a national inter-church book club, called One Book, One Church. Now, this summer more than 700 people across the country will be reading my book and participating in live, online conversations with me, all with the goal of developing concrete strategies for pursuing authentic, intersectional social justice in our communities. This book club launches next month and has already made national news!

((Feel free to join and invite others. You can learn more about it here and sign up here. It's free and I'll send you a starter kit to help you organize your book club.)

I thought that if my book didn't make a big splash the month it came out, if I didn't flood the internet with op-eds, it would die and be forgotten. But as the months have passed, I've been reminded to play the long game. To pace myself. To be kind to myself. To work but to also live and love and linger.