Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dauntless Grace: The Backstory

Almost a year ago (fine, it was March 10, but who’s keeping track?), I received a rejection letter from Thomas Nelson publishers telling me that I had not made it into Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love launch team.

If you’re new here, I’m a little obsessed with Jen Hatmaker. Hashtag understatement. Maybe two years ago I convinced my friend to drive me to Wichita and stay at a stranger’s house so that I could go to a JHat conference. Maybe I screenshot every time Jen retweets me. It’s fine.
The first time I met Jen (but not the last)
Wichita, 2014

I was rejected from her launch team. And the friend who only knew about her because I made her drive me to Wichita? She got in. (I made her apply, so I ain’t even mad about it.)

But the rejection hurt more than it should have. It hit the deepest levels of pain in me, and I sobbed. Like, sitting on the edge of my bed, hair in my face, clutching my blanket, sobbed. Over a rejection email that was sent to 4500 women (at random) because Jen is uber popular and 5000 people applied for 500 spots.

Maybe that pain was about more than not getting an advanced copy of a book.

In a Twitterstorm of activity following all the emails, I saw a tweet that referred to those of us who didn’t make it as #the4500. That hashtag took off, and a group was formed on Facebook for all of us who still wanted to support Jen’s launch.

I reluctantly joined this group, still upset but ready to see what this new group would be about. I’ve been in large Facebook groups from the onset before, and I knew it would take several weeks for the chaos of introductions and remembering people’s names to settle down. Instead of trying to wade through the confusion of a brand-new group, I decided to get real with the girls in #the4500. I began asking questions of the women that required them to be vulnerable and honest with themselves.

Eventually, our threads began clouding up the newsfeed, so I moved a bunch of us to a new group where we could get down and deep with each other. It was amazing to see the raw, open stories of some of these women. The very nature of social media is to put up a veneer, yet we chose to strip it off and get real with each other.

God began moving.

Because of the willingness of these women to be authentic and bare, we began to see healing. Women shed long-time insecurities and gained new confidence. The women began fiercely praying for each other’s marriages and families. Lifelong friendships formed.

But I stayed in the background of my own group.

You see, I was still dealing with the pain of rejection. The pain of feeling like I wasn’t wanted by Jen or her publishers in the “real” group. And I realized that I was also finally coming to grips with some rejection issues I had pushed aside in my real life.

I was down. I don’t know another way to put it. I wasn’t depressed, but I couldn’t lift my head. It didn’t feel like a familiar battle. I told a friend that I felt like I was standing on the edge of something, and I could either jump to what God had, or I was going to fall into something I wouldn’t be able to get out of. She looked me in the eyes and told me a whole lot of hard things. She said it was time that I acknowledged my healing. She said that God had a new way of living for me where I needed to be ready to minister healing to others. And that was a conversation that tipped the scales.

I jumped.

I knew God had something special planned for the women in this group I had formed. I didn’t believe it was an accident, and I knew He wanted us to take all the good, hard things we had been experiencing into the big, wide world. He wanted us to share our stories. He told me to start a ministry based on this concept.

I had immediately connected with a girl named Julie. I told her my vision, and I told her I wanted her by my side. We spent several days thinking of a name, texting synonyms of great words back and forth, and eventually, in joint effort, we stumbled upon it: Dauntless Grace Ministries.

For a long time, perhaps months, I followed His plan hesitantly. I never asked for my own ministry. I’m a writer. I like to hang out behind the scenes. I like to support the dreams of others. I never asked to lead something public.

But God asked me to. And He planted a dream in me that I never knew I had.

Right now, Dauntless Grace is still an infant. We are still figuring out where it’s going long-term and what the best route is to get there. What we do know is that it will be sister organizations with Shine Movement because the two ministries share a similar vision of bringing God’s truth to the hearts of women and girls.

I have an amazing staff in place to oversee a weekly blog, monthly newsletter, active accounts on Facebook and Instagram (@dauntlessgraceministries), and even small home groups. I have dreams of publishing curriculum, books, devotionals, and Bible studies. I have a dream of a conference where we equip women with the tools for freedom and healing. I have a dream of podcasts, videos, and other multimedia in order to spread the message of truth to our culture.

What we are doing and what we will do is only by the grace of God. We are looking to Him to direct the path for this ministry because we are only in it for His glory.

1 comment: