I have pictures and the agenda of my recent trip to Paris to share with you, but first …
An interruption. I keep trying to write my Paris blog, but my mind is elsewhere. I’m thinking about the book I read yesterday. The book I started and finished yesterday. It wasn’t a David Sedaris book, or Mindy Kaling’s book “Is Everyone Hanging out with Me?” – books that have caused me to binge read because I simply can’t put them down.
My friend Hattie’s book “Falling into Place” came out yesterday. As any good friend would do, I pre-ordered Hattie’s book on my Kindle a week or so ago. And, as most friends would also do, I momentarily forgot that yesterday was the release date. It was only when I turned on my Kindle on Sunday morning looking for my NY Times delivery that I remembered. Now reading the NY Times is my morning habit – a habit I don’t often deviate from – but because Hattie’s book was in the first position in my carousel, I clicked on it first. I never made it back to the NY Times yesterday.
I was eager to read “Falling into Place” because since meeting Hattie last summer, I had heard bits and pieces of her moving story. I knew it would be good. I didn’t know it would be that good. The story, the writing, and the testimony that yes, clarity can and does spring out of adversity.
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.” -The Optimism Revolution (via Upworthy)
On meeting Hattie, I would not have guessed the battles she had waged. I met her on the other side of her messy divorce, after she had remarried and moved from LA into my Seattle neighborhood and started attending my church. I knew she had been a news reporter in Seattle, and then in LA and was taking a break from her profession with her move back to Seattle. As I got to know her better, Hattie shared some of her story. It takes a long time to share our entire story, and most of us never get that much time with another person.
It was only in reading Hattie’s book that the curtain was pulled back to share the full arc of her battle – through extreme poverty and abandonment as one of seven children, across her successful career as a Emmy-winning news reporter, beyond an abusive first marriage, and through the messy divorce I’d heard only a little about.
But, unlike other memoirs I’ve read, Hattie writes her story almost as if she is compelled to do so. It’s not an ugly tell-all or forced how-to-guide on overcoming adversity. Hattie didn’t set out to write a book, she set out to overcome a life a poverty. And she did. But pain and hardship are life’s pause buttons, and through her divorce, she finally was able to look in her rear view mirror and notice things she hadn’t seen before.
I’m staring at this coffee table book in front of me right now called “Happy Accidents.” It’s a cute title, but I think it’s a shortsighted view of life. Yes, life is full of Happy Accidents, but it’s also peppered with Divine Appointments.
Hattie puts voice to her inner dialogue, and her brokenness, with a unique transparency that doesn’t ring whiny or the least bit put on. There are angels in her story, and once when she recognizes them, she is indebted to tell us about them. It’s a Jesus book, but not a sappy Jesus book – if you knew Hattie, you would know that she couldn’t write one of those. She’s a journalist after all.
With the people we know, we may be aware of which battles they are fighting but usually we’re shielded from their daily warfare. We only hear when the big missiles come, and even if we are invited into the trenches – we’re rarely there for the length of the conflict. Perhaps it is wishful thinking to believe that there is Someone Bigger who’s been there witnessing each of our battles, and who’s not just kind, but also on our side – but I believe that to be truth. Hattie’s story is a beautiful picture of that outrageous claim.
Perhaps you’re reading this blog because you wanted to hear about Paris, or you just wanted to check in on the Ballbachs, or maybe it was a happy accident, or maybe it was a divine appointment to order a good book you'll be glad you read. Whatever the case, I’m glad you stopped by. xxoo