Have you ever has those moments in life in which you are so ludicrously out of control that, in the midst of your words or actions, your inner voice is yelling, “Stop! Stop it! Stop it right now!”, but you can’t, so you just keep going, spiraling farther and farther down the path of social awkwardness with no way out? If your answer was “no”, you may not be able to relate to this post at all. You will, however, get in a good laugh at my expense. Here we go….It all started a couple of weeks ago. Some of you may know exactly what week I am referencing, since everyone I spoke to around that time was having exactly (ok, not exactly, but a relatable version) the kind of week I was having. It’s like a dose of insanity powder was released into the air and made all hell break loose everywhere it went. Yes, I did just throw that out there – airborne insanity. You’re welcome. Monday of said week, I had what can only be described as a total breakdown. I mean, to the point that I looked at Gregg through my tears and said something along the lines of, “Something is wrong with me. I’m broken. I think I’m actually broken.” Considering I had just done six cycles of alternating crying -> laughing -> crying (and not smiling with a gentle chuckle to choking up a bit; I mean full on laughing out loud to sobbing…it was incredible) in under 30 minutes, I think this was an accurate assessment. Gregg was horrified. He is also terrified of having to raise our children alone, so instead of agreeing with me and perhaps driving me to a facility that handles these situations, he just kept repeating, “Stop saying that. Don’t say that.” I’d like to think that his reaction was more love than fear….we’ll leave that one for now.
The funny thing is, this kicked off a week that wasn’t as crazy as some, coming off of a weekend that had been relatively calm (for us, which I know is generally not the definition for the rest of the world). So my meltdown was quite unexpected. Except for one circumstance. Friday and Saturday of that week was the women’s conference for one of our local churches. This group of amazing ladies is generous enough to include me in many of their events and studies, and this weekend was no exception. I had a small role in helping out at this phenomenal event, and was so excited to do so I could hardly stand it. Naturally, by the time things were in full gear, I was emotionally and spiritually beaten up to the point that I was seriously questioning whether I should go. Which means, of course, that I absolutely was supposed to. Even in my hysteria, I knew there was something I needed to hear or experience there, and the worse my week got, the more that thought crystalized.
Did I mention the speaker? Oh, not yet? Yeah….the other reason I know things were blowing up is just how excited I was to hear this amazing woman live and maybe even get to meet her (gasp). I’m not sure exactly what the etiquette is in the blogging world on mentioning names, but let’s be honest, she’s never going to read this and I didn’t use her picture and none of you are paying money to humor my ramblings, so I think it’s okay. The keynote speaker for the event was none other than the incomparable Jen Hatmaker. I know! How awesome is that?!? I simply adore her, and truly admire her work. I know, just know, that we are supposed to be lifelong friends and have many hilarious conversations in our future. I wouldn’t call myself a super fan (is there even such a term?) – I have her HGTV episodes recorded, but haven’t managed to watch them, yet (because I don’t actually have time to watch TV, but it’s on my to-do list), and I don’t read everything she posts (again, time factor), but I have read several of her books and am in the midst of one of her Modern Girls’ Guide to Bible Study books (if you’ve not done one, I highly recommend it). So, I feel like I have a fairly good grasp on who she is, and can say with some certainty that we would get along famously (I share that sentiment with countless other women, I know).
That being said, I have to say, I’ve never been one to get overly starstruck. I don’t have a history of crying at concerts or freaking out over the chance to chase down a celebrity. I stand next to Bruce Bowen every year at the Buddy Walk (he MC’s, I sing the National Anthem….we’re buds) and joke with him about all the people who walk through or over me to shake his hand or ask for autographs. I’ve run into one or two famous people in my life (not a ton, but, you know…it happens), and it’s not been a primary focus of mine. For some reason, I found myself really caught up in the fact that this woman was going to be our speaker and in the same building as me (and about 400 other women, but whatever) and would I get to meet her or get her to sign a book or ask her a question or….. It was a little ridiculous. So, I made myself a deal. Obviously, I was missing the point of the whole event if this was my focal point. It was time to change focus. As I drove to the church Friday, I gave myself a stern talking to – and decided that on no uncertain terms would I seek to meet her. I was there to serve in whatever capacity they needed me to, and to learn from a fascinating teacher. Period. The end. Let it go.
Amazingly, as I pulled into the parking lot, I felt totally calm, like the crazy powder had dissipated. I walked in, asked where I needed to go, and got to work. At some point, I noticed there were more than enough helpers to greet and direct attendees in my area, so I headed to one of the ladies in charge to ask if they needed help in another space. That’s when I noticed the very nice camera sitting next to her with no one to man it. My offer to roam the venue taking pictures was met with enthusiasm, and off I went to record the event for posterity. It was so fun! I took shots of every conceivable area and got to meet so many beautiful and interesting ladies, chatting with anyone I could. My heart was so grateful and happy to be there. There is nothing quite like a building full of women who are excited and relaxed and anticipating an inspiring occasion. I headed to the “green room” area to get backstage candids of the worship team and MC, and to do a little more chatting. I love this worship team – they are such a talented group, and at intervals I get to sing with them, so I know most of them relatively well. It was quite the party. The MC was a lovely lady whom I had met at a previous event in which I was an MC, so I was excited to see her again and play a bit of personal assistant. She had a question about door prizes, and with a promise to find the answer and get right back to her I rushed out of the door on a mission.
And that’s when it happened.
The Game Changer Moment.
Before I go any further, let me set this up by reminding you that I was on an adrenaline high, happy to have survived my week and make it to an event I had been looking forward to….a lot. I was moving quickly, with my mind racing ahead to the person I needed to find and information I had to get. And I am basically always super high energy, even more in social settings. Also, I was in the back of the church, in an area that was not part of the main setting. As I burst out of the doors, to the right was the hallway leading back to the venue and to the left was a short hall, then entryway with double doors that open to the back parking lot. These doors are locked and require a code to open from the outside. Stay with me. I’m about to land this plane.
I rushed out of the room, prepped to turn right, and something to the left caught my eye and I heard a light rattling of the doors. I skidded to a halt and turned to look left. There, locked out of the building not 30 feet away, stood none other than Jen Hatmaker herself, waving and smiling.
The longer I live, the more I am convinced that God has an unrivaled sense of humor. And sometimes, when He’s throwing us a bone, He decides to get a chuckle out of it.
Girls, what happened next is indisputably one of the most embarassingly unrefined social interactions of my adult life. Actually, my entire life. I completely flipped out. Like, to the nth degree. It’s like I was possessed.
In the history of doors, there has never been anyone as excited to open one as I was in that moment. I cannot believe I am even going to describe this….. Mid-swerve, I flung my arms up in this L shape (you know how cheerleaders do that move with their arms fully extended, one up and one out? That was me, but with completely open jazz hands) and opened my mouth….the only word to describe the sound that came out is “trill”. I trilled this “Ah-ha-HA-ha-ha!” pattern, then took off for the door at a speed that any character on The Walking Dead would envy. Seriously, the way I raced for that entryway you would think that she was escaping a zombie horde as opposed to standing in the afternoon sunshine at the back of a church simply because she couldn’t open a locked door. As I was running, I was literally telling myself to “calm down right now, you idiot!”, but I just couldn’t. I was already laughing (out loud, which I’m sure made me look even more sane) when I got to the door. I ripped the door open with a resounding “HI!” and let her get almost all the way into the building before stepping just a little too close as I chirped, “Of course!” in response to her thank you. I then opened my arms and asked, “Can I just hug you?”
Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Make it stop! Who does that? Who accosts someone that way? A crazy person, that’s who. I am a crazy person.
And apparently, awkward hugs are my go-to move. I’d love to say this is the first time this has happened, but it isn’t. Last year, at a school board meeting, I hugged the assistant superintendent. It was only the second time I had ever seen or spoken to her. In my defense, I used to work for the school district, so am often hugging people when in that building. And she did walk towards me with one arm out to the side (she was carrying a folder and trying to hand it to the person next to me, so I may have misinterpreted that a bit). And, in addition, I was really tired and saw her out of the corner of my eye, so reacted before the identity of the person I was reaching for had fully registered. At that point, it would have been more awkward to try and stop myself, so I just went all in and wrapped her up in a big ol’ bear hug. I believe her startled reaction was, “Oh! Okay. We’re doing this.” To which I replied, “What can I say? I’m a hugger!” Shanie, who (bless her) is a Director for this district and has to work with these people, so I had to promise not to let on that we’re friends, was beyond the ability to breathe through her laughter when I sat by her and explained what had happened. She looked at me in confusion and asked, “Are you a hugger? How did I not know this?”
No!! No I am not a “Hugger”!! That’s not a descriptor I would use at all! I just couldn’t think of anything else to say in that moment to help excuse my weird behavior. I only hug people I know well. Or, apparently, that walk up to me in professional settings. Or for whom I open doors. Yeesh.
Back to Jen. I did redeem myself a bit when I directed her to the bathroom, I think. And I cheerfully took pictures of her and anyone who requested it. We had a lovely discussion on gardening and eggplants and recipes, which may have helped her not feel the need for a restraining order – though I did kick off that topic with the pronouncement that I would bless her by sharing the knowledge of my favorite thing about her. When I said that I was sure she heard that all the time, her answer was, “Actually, I don’t. No one ever says that to me.” Fabulous. Glad to be the first.
You’ll be happy to know that my favorite Hatmaker fact is that she quotes Bon Jovi lyrics to her garden plants. I know. I am so deep.
Through tears of mirth, one of my friends to whom I related this story was commenting on how Jen would never believe that I actually lead worship or speak in public or write. Yes, of this I am aware. Thank you for pointing that out. I’ll just stay categorized as the insane fan with no social skills or restraint who did a spirit dance then attacked her in a doorway; and out of the profound lessons in Seven, came away with 90s music references. Stupendous.
After meekly asking for one pic of the two of us on my phone, I stayed away from her for the rest of the event, with the exception of walking her to her car Friday night. It was late and she was parked back there alone (obviously I knew where she had come in). Even crazy people have some manners and safety awareness.
In case you are wondering, the lesson/topic of the weekend was phenomenal and punch-you-in-the-face convicting. Over 400 daughters of the King laughed and cried and learned. I am still processing her material and doctrine, and actually have many thoughts that I will share in a later correspondence. Because, let’s face it, none of you could take me seriously at this point. I can’t even take myself for real.
It’s humbling to know that, at any age, you can geek out with the best of them. Gregg’s next national sales meeting is in Hollywood, and we have plans for me to join him there for a few days of getaway time. I am already praying that we don’t experience any celebrity sightings. I obviously cannot handle it.
Solidarity, sisters. Everyone loves hugger.
Ok, maybe loves is a strong word….tolerates?