The Lipstick Gospel was born over coffee.
Well, I guess it was first born under a mosquito net in Ghana to the light of my headlamp, and then was actually created in one of the gigantic La-Z-Boys in my parents living room during my post-World-Race jet lag.
But the heart of it was really born over coffee.
The year after I graduated from college, I was graciously offered an internship at my college ministry. I still maintain that my pastor was insane for giving such a responsibility to someone who had been a Christian for all of 5 minutes. But nevertheless, I’m so grateful he did.
I spent that year at the Starbucks on the corner of University and Broadway in Boulder, Colorado, having coffee with a ton of really fantastic women—mostly sorority girls.
And I swear, magic happened over those tables.
They would show up, and we’d sit there, sipping our skinny vanilla lattes and talking about life. And after just a few moments they’d dive right in, allowing me into a tender place that needed some healing that day.
And miracle beyond miracle, as they would pour out the details, I’d realize that I actually had some details to share right back. I would remember in a flash that I had experienced something similar, and would then get to use that moment in my life to speak some wisdom, some peace, or just some “you’re not alone” into that spot.
And that was the beginning of The Lipstick Gospel.
I fell in love with those girls that year and was heartbroken when I had to leave them. But because of The Lipstick Gospel, I feel like I never really had to.
Sure, the group has changed some, and grown considerably, but I still get to have the same conversations, some in person and some over email, about those tender moments—getting to share my story and hear yours.
And this is my favorite thing about my job.
But here’s the problem. While the conversations began over coffee, in the past year, they’ve taken place much differently.
I don’t go to coffee as much as I used to because now my gigantic small group is spread all over the world. I get emails and texts and Facebook messages—but that every day interaction is missing. There’s so much more separating us than a table and two paper Starbucks cups.
And in some ways, this is wonderful. It’s forced me to get more creative and has revealed this insatiable love for writing that I never would have found otherwise. But for a while there, I was pretty isolated from the people sitting on the other end of the computer.
And all of a sudden I found myself afraid to come out from behind the screen.
It’s never phased me before. People have told me that I’m taller, shorter, younger, or um…more mature. People have told me that I’m exactly how I seem on my blog, or that I’m more down to earth than they imagined, but it never occurred to me that I might have some impression to live up to.
And we all do this. We have Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and blogs—all ways that we get to craft what people see of us, choosing the best pictures and our smartest thoughts to share with the world. And while it’s not inherently a bad thing to put your best foot forward—it can create some fear in your personal, real-life relationships.
“Will I measure up to the image I’ve created?”
But we have to get out from behind the screen. We have to let people see us and hug us and laugh with us. This online community—blogs, Instagram, Facebook—they’re all wonderful places to tell redemptive, life-changing stories.
But they’re just not enough.
We need someone physically sitting across from us, leaning over to wipe a tear. We need someone to listen to our verbal processing as we talk in circles until our coffee is cold. We need someone to hug us when life just feels too heavy—iPhones aren’t great comfort in the middle of the night.
And so this is the work I’m doing now. I’m yanking myself from behind the screen and having conversations over coffee. I’m getting over impressions and expectations and becoming a real, blood-and-guts person all over again. I want to feel authentically and imperfectly me on this space and in every space—whether I meet you in my living room, your living room, or with many living rooms in between us.
And so over coffee, over long conversations and some much-needed face time, I’m slowly coming out from behind the screen, and realizing that just being me is more than enough.
What screens do you find yourself hiding behind?