Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jennifer Rothschild & Personal Irony

God's power and sovereignty are often easily recognized in creation and in the big things of life. But when He "zings" me with a lesson tailor-made for my circumstance, it always blows my mind.

I have raved about the Christian Book Expo and what a wonderful time I had. And I did. But isn't it typical that out of all my wonderful experiences, when I got back to my hotel room on Saturday night, all I could think was, "I'm an idiot. I can't believe I did that. What a doofus."

And the irony of it was the book I was holding, on which the autographed ink was barely dry, when I made my self-deprecating statements.

I guess I better explain.

One of the last people I had the complete delight of meeting late Saturday afternoon is Jennifer Rothschild. I heart Jennifer! Our church did her Fingerprints of God Bible Study a few years back, and it was wonderful. Since then I've enjoyed her website & her newsletter, Java with Jennifer. She is a gifted teacher whom I admire so much. And an incredible woman. She continually wows me with her comments about the things she does even though she is blind (including putting on her own make-up and cooking).

So I was thrilled she was signing books late in the day when the already light crowds had trickled down to just a smattering of people. I made my way over to the booth where she sat. And then all rational thought departed my brain as I became a blathering idiot.

As I effused over her telling her how wonderful she was and getting her to sign the book I had brought and another one I had bought for a friend (sorry bloggy friends, I kinda left you in the lurch and it never occurred to me to buy a giveaway! Nope, this one was all about me & Jennifer.), I'm sure she thought I must be a teeny-bopper groupie! I could not seem to make my mouth shut up, focused waaay too much on "I don't see how you _____ since you're blind", and I probably sounded like I'd never met anyone with a physical disability. She was gracious and kind, but after I left, I wanted to crawl in the nearest hole, telling myself "stupid, stupid, stupid."

Oh, the book I took for her to sign? One I obviously need to reread!

Self Talk, Soul Talk addresses what we as women do all too well: talk to ourselves in a demeaning way. As the back cover says,

Jennifer paints a picture of our minds as closets:

I seem to have a secret closet tucked somewhere in the hallways of my mind. A thought closet. And what I had been storing in that closet wasn't good at all: shelves and racks and bins full of hidden thoughts, secret insecurities, lies, illusions, and reminders of former failures. How did they get ther? Why can't I get rid of them?

Without my consent, my mind keeps reaching into the dark corners of that closet to retrieve the troublesome contents I have inadvertently stored away over the years. The boxes have labels like these:
  • You're not good enough.
  • You're not the wife you could be.
  • You're not a good mom.
  • You should have done a better job.
Our soul talk can finally change the contents of our thought closets. . .My faith has led me to the Bible to find what to say to my soul. And speaking the truths I've found in the pages of Scripture has turned my thought closet from a prison into an oasis of freedom! (p. 14-15)

And this part really gets me as I think about berating myself in the hotel room:

Are your words gracious and yet based on the authority of Scripture? I am quite sure I would not tolerate someone else speaking to me with the kind of words I have used when speaking to myself. . .If my husband, Phil, ever called me an idiot because I spilled coffee on his newspaper, I would be crushed and explode with indignation. Yet idiot is the word I most frequently called myself when I made a similar blunder. . .The next time you gear up to spout off some choice words to your soul, pause and consider the words of Paul: "Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone" (Colossians 4:6 NLT). "Everyone" includes you. (p. 28-29)

Sigh. Nothing like being Exhibit A for the book you just got autographed!

Each chapter concludes with Questions to Ponder, and Jennifer also has a Self Talk Soul Talk website containing more thoughts from Jennifer and Interviews with Women Who Talk to Themselves, such as Chonda Pierce, Patsy Clairmont, Lisa Welchel, and Kathy Troccoli.

Jennifer has also just released the corresponding Bible Study - Me, Myself, and Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover. Here's a brief intro:

And here she is with her sweet husband, "her" Dr. Phil:

Oh, and talk about double the fun! Lysa TerKeurst just announced last week that Jennifer will be speaking at this year's She Speaks Conference! I'm dying to go!

I am an idiot. I am a friend of God! (And maybe one day, Jennifer Rothschild?!)


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Kelly said...

I need that book. I have been known to put my foot in my mouth a time or two. But I'm sure you did great! You are a child of God, after all.

Beverlydru said...

I think we all need to be reminded to speak nicely to ourselves. I met Jennifer years ago when our children were toddlers. She led worship at a women's retreat and she was amazing. Thank you thank you for the Meissner book. I've been dwelling on grace and mercly lately, so The Shape of Grace is perfect.

sara said...

i am looking for a bible study to do with my group for the summer. I need to look into hers, it sounds very good!

Debbie Petras said...

Linda, I love Jennifer Rothschild. I understand totally! She was our keynote speaker at my church a few years ago and I was on the leadership team. Jennifer is a delight! She is so gracious and giving. You forget that she's blind. I had the pleasure of contacting her very own Dr. Phil to make the arrangements too. He called me back when I was in the grocery store of all places.

I also look forward to receiving her Java with Jennifer newsletter each month. It's pack with so much and I can't believe all that she does despite her blindness. It puts me to shame. Oh no, I forgot that I'm God's child.

Cindy said...

You aren't the only one who feels that way after speaking before thinking. I'm a member of that particular club!

A Stone Gatherer said...

I could see myself doing the same thing! And boy howdy I should probably get that book! I'm doing that all the time!

Anonymous said...

I love it when God meets me RIGHT where I am. The use of the word "idiot" is such a clear message! Idiot, shmidiot.

You are an intelligent, creative, compassionate, sincere woman of God!

Carole said...

Well Linda, you just introduced me to Jennifer and I signed up for her newsletter. I don't know why I haven't heard about her before now. She sounds like a wonderful teacher and person.

I had to laugh at your story, because I'm afraid I would have talked the same way.

Unknown said...

If He doesn't condemn me, what authority do I have to condemn myself? (UGH this one keeps going through my mind!)

I've seen the posters and such for this book but I think I'm gonna have to check it out!

Suzanne said...

Love this post. I have done that so in my mind all of the things I said that I shouldn't have said or wished I'd said differently! Oddly enough...even though it is rooted in insecurity (not pride), it is still the wrong's on me rather than on the Lord!
Thanks for being so open, Linda. That phrase: "I am such an idiot!" Hoo-boy, we can all relate! ~Suzanne

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

I just hate that feeling. I'll remember something that I said 8 years ago, and still feel a twinge of embarassment over the conversation. The person I was speaking with probably doesn't even remember it, but in my mind it's this horrible memory of my idiocy!

I like the closet metaphor...that is so true!


Jennifer Aniston hair said...

Like most women I can relate to those feelings very well. Very intriguing book. I enjoy self help books with a strong spiritual influence.