Because of COVID, my speaking event schedule has been rather skimpy for the past two years. So I was thrilled when the good ladies of Grace Baptist in Gainesville, FL invited me to bring them a message from my book, More Beauty, Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre. You may recall that was the second book in my Take On Life series before we began expanding the Too Blessed to be Stressed line to 30+ books.
More Beauty, Less Beast was always one of my favorites, so I was excited to prepare my presentation scheduled for the end of the Saturday afternoon ladies conference.
But before I was slotted to take the stage, there was lots of spirited group singing, some marvelous specials by gifted singers, and two 30-minute talks – spread apart by several hours – given by a highly regarded teaching matriarch of the church. Someone the ladies all knew and loved.
As I sat there listening to her, I could feel my head begin to droop and my shoulders sag. Because she was stealing my show, covering almost all the points from my own carefully plotted out presentation, one by one.
She had no way of knowing this, of course. All she knew ahead of time was the title of the event, which was also the title of my book, More Beauty, Less Beast. I doubt she’d even read my book. But somehow her points were my points and I felt completely at a loss and befuddled as to what to do now.
How could I fix this? I couldn’t come up with an entirely new presentation at the last minute. I had written and rewritten my speech, practicing it every single day for the previous week. What new concept could I add at this late stage that would bless the ladies any differently than this very thorough teacher already had?
I was torn between the pressure of desperately flailing about for something fresh that would benefit the ladies who had gone to all kinds of trouble to come, and the selfish disappointment of being upstaged.
Although I thought all of this was privately ping-ponging through my head, my childhood best friend Jan (I like to say we’ve been bosom buddies since we got bosoms in the 7th grade) who was sitting beside me (she graciously gave up her entire day to help out with my book table and provide her sweet support to me) must’ve noticed my body language and deteriorating posture. She leaned close and whispered, “What’s wrong?”
I was so squeezed in the vise grip of panic that I could only shake my head. Barely. I felt like I’d been entombed in the frozen tundra of Antarctica for a century or two.
After the church lady’s talk ended, when everyone was standing to take a break, I finally was able to confide to Jan, “She just covered most of my speaking points. Everything I was planning to say. What am I going to do?”
Jan seriously considered the question. I knew she wouldn’t just slough it off as unimportant – she’s that kind of wonderful best friend.
Then she told me a story that gave me a glimmer of hope that my repetition of things they’d already heard wouldn’t disappoint the ladies as much as I feared.
Jan said that once she spent many hours coming up with an idea for a big VBS presentation for her assigned children’s age group, with elaborate staging and costuming details. (Jan is known far and wide in her community as a program planner extraordinaire who goes above and beyond with INCREDIBLE results.) She’d described her ideas to the person in charge of the entire VBS and then spent weeks creating a magnificent set.
When Jan arrived the first day of VBS, she was shocked to find that the person in charge had
heisted all her ideas and used them as the central set for the combined classes. Therefore, the kids who were later in her charge would have already seen the elements of the set she had painstakingly thought up and brought to life. All her work had been duplicated. It would be no big deal to them by then. She’d been upstaged. Her massive efforts had been hijacked.
She felt the same frustration and confusion that I was feeling now.
“So what did you do?” I asked, eager to hear her solution, for Jan is one of the godliest and wisest people I’ve ever known.
“Well, at first I was mad as a wet hen and I realized that anger was the wrong attitude if we were both doing all we could in the name of the Lord. I couldn’t change the physical material. So I prayed for a different attitude. And I called a godly friend. Her advice is exactly the advice I’ll give to you right now: Go ahead and do the same presentation, just do it your way. God will somehow make it completely different through your specific gifts and abilities and it will minister to the audience in an entirely unique way.”
Then Jan winked at me, gave me a bestie hug, and added, “Go ahead and make the same great points she did. Just do it BIGGER!”
So I did.
And Papa God did.
My attitude morphed into one of praise. I prefaced my presentation with thanks to the previous speaker, who, “laid the perfect groundwork by presenting many of the same biblical points I’ll be expanding upon.”
Then the Almighty showed up and stole the show from both of us. Exactly the way it always should be.
So tell me, BFF (Blessed Friend Forever), has the Lord ever stolen your show? Your awesome community of BFFs would love to hear about it!