Because Vulnerable Makes The Thing Better

I will warn you that I’m going to write this post in one sitting and probably won’t edit it a lick before I post it. There’s a young’un in this house with a full line-up of practices and other assorted fun this afternoon / evening, so I’m a smidge pressed for time. But I want to be sure to write this down in a blog post – because it’s something that keeps coming up and I hope maybe the story behind it will encourage you / put some pep in your step / remind you and me both how much we need each other (so many times for reasons we can’t even see yet).

All righty. How’s that for an overly wordy set-up?

(Also: I used the phrase “pep in your step.” I am 109.)

I knew when I started writing Giddy Up, Eunice that it was going to push me outside of my comfort zone a little (lot). It was clear pretty early on that the book was going to circle around the stories of three pairs of women from the Bible, and I don’t know if you know this or not, but I’ve never really written about the Bible. I mean, I’ve written a blog post here and there, and I’ve spoken at some events, but a whole book? With Bible stories at the heart of it? Not really my wheelhouse.

(By the way, David likes to kid me and say that, if nothing else, my publishing legacy will be, “And then Mama tooted, y’all.”)

(I’d really be so fine with that, truth be told.)

Anyway.

Somewhere early on in our first books Melanie and I began sending each other chapters as we finished them. We were both so used to immediate feedback from blog posts – that is the wonder of a comments section – and it felt a little weird to write a whole chapter and then not have anyone else read it. So we sent chapters back and forth, and I guess in doing that we sort of became each other’s book-writing commenters. I don’t think I would have finished a single book without that system in place, even though sometimes it felt like the most vulnerable thing in the world to let another set of eyes look at a chapter I’d written – especially when I didn’t think what I’d written was particularly, you know, good.

I had the idea for Eunice in the fall of 2014 – just a few months after I finished writing Home is Where My People Are – and then I spent probably six months thinking about it / praying about it / figuring out what it was going to be. While all that was going on I was working on a proposal for it, trying to outline chapters, mapping out the structure – but I wasn’t doing any real writing. So, when I started the actual writing, I remember thinking two things: 1) do I even know how to do this? and 2) this is going to be a little more serious in places…how’s that gonna fly?

So I wrote the intro and the first chapter, and I got Melanie’s feedback, and if memory serves she already knew some of the content because we had talked through it and she’d heard a talk I did about Mary and Elizabeth.

Well.

When I was working on chapter two, I was walking down the hall to my office one afternoon when a thought came to me out of nowhere: “When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes and responds to the Holy Spirit in another woman, safe places become sacred spaces.” It hit me so hard that I went straight to the computer and typed it out, and I remember thinking how weird it was to write that sentence because it’s not how I normally talk or even think. But I put it in the chapter, and I was immediately so uncomfortable with how people might respond to it – if they would think that I was getting all touchy-feely-pin-this-to-Pinterest on them – that I quickly wrote a joke underneath it. I don’t know that the joke fully undermined the sentence, but it certainly made light of it and diminished its impact.

Then I finished the chapter and sent it to Melanie and maybe winced a little bit because I didn’t want her to think that I had gotten all touchy-feely-pin-this-to-Pinterest-y.

The next day Melanie sent me her feedback, and it was all very kind and encouraging. Then she hit me with some truth:

Here’s my only thought and maybe it’s me being protective of you. But this statement –

When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes and responds to the Holy Spirit in another woman, safe places become sacred spaces.

– I think I’d lose the parenthetical (after it)…because it distracts from it in my opinion. Own that God gave you that word and that you wrote it. And I know that may be silly but that’s my thought.

So I took out the joke.

And I let the sentence stand on its own.

It didn’t just change the tone of the chapter; it changed the tone of the whole book. Melanie, without knowing it, gave me the confidence I needed to write what I was supposed to write.

And I have to tell y’all: since the book came out two weeks ago, that sentence is the one people have mentioned to me more than any other. On Twitter, on Facebook, in conversations – that sentence is the one that people have quoted back to me the most.

A reader named Melissa Crawford actually made this graphic and posted it on the launch team page, and I had to laugh a little because it really should say “(and Melanie Shankle)” next to my name.

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And every single time that someone has mentioned it, I think about Melanie telling me, in so many words, “OWN THAT. GOD GAVE YOU THOSE WORDS.”

So often, I think, we have our “thing” – whether it’s singing or painting or cycling or organizing or teaching or leading or writing or running or whatever – and our temptation is to hold it super close to our chest with our arms wrapped ALL THE WAY AROUND IT and not let anybody else peek in for fear that they’ll laugh at us or judge us or criticize us or etc. We start to tell ourselves that our interests are dumb and we’re not any good and really there are thousands of people who can design logos / bake / sell houses / create marketing campaigns.

And we’re right, you know. There are thousands of people who can do all of those things. What we forget is that we need thousands of people. After all, how boring would the world be if we only had, like, seven chefs?

Not to mention that those seven folks would be completely overwhelmed by all the cooking they’d have to do.

But my bigger point is this: if there’s something you love to do – maybe even something you feel like you were made to do – then look for a person or the people who will cheer you on and tell you the truth. Make yourself vulnerable and share your songwriting / app coding / business consulting / oboe playing with them. They might tell you how phenomenal you are. They might tell you that a certain element needs some work. They might tell you to go back to the drawing board. They might tell you to stay after it because there really is something there.

If they’re people who really love you and truly have your best interest at heart, they’ll be honest with you. They’ll spur you on. They’ll push you in the right direction – even if the direction isn’t what you expected.

That thing you love to do might not feel as safe. You might not be able to hold it quite as close.

But it’ll be better for the sharing. You will, too.

So in the words of my friend Melanie: OWN IT. GOD GAVE YOU THAT THING.

And I just wanted to tell you that on this fine Monday afternoon.

Good talk, team.

Love,
Me

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Comments

  1. I needed to hear this today. I’m entering a new phase in life and finding a new “thing” and it’s scary. I’ve been drawn to mentoring women but as my life has changed so have the people I connect with and that’s ok. Thanks for these words.

  2. Yolanda McLean says:

    I love this! I have had this book tucked away since I received it. We are leaving for a trip this Friday that involves two days of driving (don’t think I didn’t look up airfare rates, but that wouldn’t be fair to the other 9 people traveling with us, although my husband was OK with me flying and meeting them). This book is my go-to for this trip and I hope that I can not take a peek at chapter 2 when I get home tonight.

  3. Holly in oregon says:

    Really cherishing Giddyup Eunice! Sent two copies to older women who have mentored me over the years. Thank you for writing it.

  4. This is beautiful! And trust me that sentence is highlighted, starred and has some colorful arrows pointing to it in my copy! Finding the right ‘people’ to speak into my life and my journey has made me a better …. whatever it is I am. It’s also made me take stock of what I’m good at — how the Lord has gifted me and appreciate that. I’m so glad Melanie told you to OWN it! It’s beautiful

  5. Brava, Sophie. And Melanie.

  6. This, of all the things I have read by you and Melanie, made me really cry and really think hard. I love you two so much, and may never meet either of you until that other side of the ol’ Jordan, but oh, I do look forward to meeting you both.

  7. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for the encouragement Sophie. You have a wonderful, down to earth, funny way of speaking to the heart of what matters. Thanks for being such an uplifting corner of the internet universe!

  8. I play the oboe! But haven’t in a long time, for a variety of reasons. Haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m so glad Melanie encouraged you to keep that line in there. This was a very encouraging post! You are precious!

  9. Reading your latest book and loving it…

  10. I love it when you read or hear or see things that are so pertinent to you at that very moment, and this is one of those times! My mom & I have just started going to a new church and the summer series is all about ‘God’s Gift’. Everyone of us has a gift, whether it be hospitality or leadership etc. And I think people need to follow Melanie’s advice more often and OWN IT. To not be afraid to use the glorious gifts that the Lord has given to us. I’m excited to read your new book, as I loved your first one!
    xo, Syd
    anchoredinthesouth.com

  11. Lori in Texas says:

    Pre-ordered your book ( as always). Read it in record time and am now going back through and parking in the places that I need to process. I have shared the word that God gave you with my friends. Such an encouraging word. Let’s ALL Own It! Love y’alls BigBooCast, blogs and books!

  12. Thank you. I needed this word right now.

    I am loving your book! I had no idea what, exactly, it was about, I just knew if you wrote it I’d like it. But the topic of women of all different ages engaging with each other is something I have seen first hand happening at our church the last few years and it has blessed my socks off and I wish I could yell about it from the top of a building. Your book is doing just that. I love it. God really has spoken a word through you! Thank you.

  13. I’ve been reading you for a hundred years and this may be one of my favorite things that you have written. AND now I’m definitely going to be buying that book pronto. Thanks for sharing your heart with us!

  14. That quote gave me goosebumps!

  15. Thank you for “owning” it. Such a blessing to my soul tonight.

  16. I needed to hear this in the worst of ways. I’ve just completed a manuscript (a memoir), and I’m getting ready to start sending it out to agents. My blog readers and friends know me as the witty,funny writer- and the book I wrote is not written in the same tone as my blog. The beta readers love the book but they keep saying it’s not written in my normal funny tone- it’s not depressing by any means, but it’s about my internal journey and following God into deep waters- so it’s not going to be a knee slapper (I don’t know anyone that actually slaps their knees when laughing, I just realized. I digress). I was beginning to feel like “Fun Bobby” on Friends, after he gets sober and boring. This is the story that God has given me to share though, and I have no doubts about that- but I need to own it. THANK YOU.

  17. Cheryl B. says:

    Good word sister. Good. Word.

  18. Rachael b says:

    I love this. And I love you and Melanie! That might be my second favorite line in the book. (Mostly because I struggle with the Holy Spirit, maybe…). The line is in repeat in my head is (totally paraphrasing here), Instead of waiting for people to behave maybe we should learn to love them right where they are. That speaks volumes to me. It’s a hard one for me. I am a rule follower and expect everyone else to be also!
    Thanks for this post, it brought tears to my eyes. I need daily reminders that I am a worthwhile human being!

  19. Love this post!!!

  20. Christy says:

    You have encouraged me….I have something that I have my arms wrapped around and need to OWN it and giddy up. Thank you
    Im loving Eunice!!!

  21. Pam Moore says:

    Not to make you feel l’m gettin’ “all touchy-feely-pin-this-to-Pinterest”, but honestly, this is such a great reminder to be who God made us to be that it’s going on my ‘Life Lessons’ Pinterest board. ;-)

  22. Julie Rogers says:

    Sophie…I usually open up your latest blog post and read it at work before I officially start my day. Today was no exception. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes afraid to go out of my office. I’m trying so hard to learn this lesson – to “own” my talents and capabilities. Forty-five years of living with self-doubt and trust issues is making this a very hard lesson to learn, but I’m trying! God bless you. I cannot wait to read this book on my vacation next month. It’s on my bedside table waiting to get to Orange Beach.

  23. Word.

    (And you wrote this in one sitting with no editing? Um. Wow!)

  24. Melissa Brown says:

    Sophie I have loved your blog for a long time – especially during football and baseball season. Gig’em!
    Have really just thoroughly enjoyed your books- but this one I keep having to go back and reread and mark I LOVE IT!!!! Thank you for sharing your talent with us!!

  25. Karlyn hillman says:

    I’m so grateful God made you Sophie Hudson! I may never know you personally but you have encouraged me so much!

  26. Kristen says:

    Wow. Love this so much. I have only started reading the book in the last couple of days and already have so many thoughts – we are definitely having a book club at the end of the summer so I have some time to gather them – but this theme of vulnerability with other women is the one that keeps rising to the top of my heart. It’s not easy to trust each other sometimes.
    Also, as a mom of a 17-year-old girl, I so wish she had a “Mrs. Hudson” at her school! Love that job you have and that you are obviously so gifted and called to speak life and wisdom to these young women.
    It’s exciting to see how God is working through you, Boomama! :)

  27. I believe you and Melanie were recognizing the Spirit in each other and creating safe places together. Praise God!

  28. Thank you for this, Sophie, you are a gift to the interwebs & those that read y our books(that’s a serious comment, not a joke.) I’m trying to own something I like to do, and it’s hard & scary. Your encouragement is valuable, that word that God gave you is so true & uplifting, thank you for sharing it.

  29. Julie Reynolds says:

    Thank you Sophie! First of all for owning what God gave you, cause sister – HE gave you a WORD! Giddy Up Eunice has lit a fire in me for our women’s ministry to make it better, to build more community and to take it to the level that I have dreamed about and known we needed for so long. And also thank you for sharing this post, its always so refreshing to see your authenticity and know that we are not alone in second guessing ourselves at times. Thank you!

  30. LOVE…plain and simple.

  31. Sophie, I needed to hear this post! Thank you so much. And now, you have made me even more excited to read the book! Clearly, it will be the highlight of my husband’s yearly family reunion for me(it’s how I’m planning to survive 😉😂)! Oh, I’m only mostly kidding! Thanks for being brave to write these words. And thanks to Melanie for her honesty with you.

  32. It is so beautiful watching you own the gift God has given you, Sophie! And it’s wonderful to see how he uses your friendship with Melanie to make that gift shine. Love you both!

  33. What a good Word she gave you. It was from the Lord for sure. I recently posted a blog along these lines as well. God never ceases to amaze me at how He brings people together.

  34. Love this, love you, and love Melanie! Also, how cool is it that God used that conversation with Melanie to confirm the exact word about confirmation that He gave you?!?!

  35. I was picking up a Bible Study book at Lifeway this afternoon and came across your book. I wasn’t quite ready to “bite” since I’m starting a new study and still have all that homework to do. ;)
    However, after reading this blog post I know I should’ve picked up the book.
    Thanks for calling me out – I’ll be back for more!

  36. Melanie says:

    Loved this post! Thank you.

  37. Thank you so much. I love your words–they encourage me so so much!

  38. Thank you for this! It brought tears to my eyes!

  39. Well, I just put my forehead right down on my desk and cried a river over this post. Thank you so much for this encouragement. “We need thousands of people”. i can’t tell you how I have bumped up against the idea that thousands of people are “great” and maybe, I’m only “good”. You’re right. Only seven chefs would be a big ol’ bummer. You are a blessing and I adore your blog and all of your books and also, college football. (Hook Em). Thank you, Sophie. Thank you so very much.

  40. So confirming, Sophie (and Melanie). Love your humor and transparency. I think we’d be good friends, haha! I’m a mom of nine (including thru adoption) and have plenty of drama and imperfections in my life and family, like everyone. But I’ve learned (and am still learning) that being REAL with people — in person, when I speak or write — when I pray — is SO much more powerful and life-changing than putting on a facade of one who has “arrived”, lol! No, not me. So thanks for being REAL, Sophie! LOVE to have you as a guest blogger on my blog!! (Site below)

  41. Christina D. says:

    Dearest Sophie, you and Melanie have cheered me up more times than I can count. It’s the Holy Spirit that makes us feel at home when we listen to your wonderful podcasts or read your blogs. Thank you. My walk has been less lonely because of you two ladies.

  42. Thank you for this and for your book. So much truth and encouragement at just the right time!

  43. Love, love, love this!

  44. Melissa says:

    Amen. Wow. Love this post, and that sentence. Melanie is a gift of a friend.

  45. I totally needed to read this right now. That sentences speaks so much truth and life to me. I love how Melanie encouraged you to own it. I also loved how you encouraged us to do the same. This was a God-breathed post for sure. Thank you so much :)