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And Somewhere Along the Line, I Sold Some Books.

I finished speaking to the crowd, I gathered my bags and boxes of books from backstage, and I made my way out to the lobby, to the half of the merchandise table that would be mine for the morning and afternoon. A break was coming after the next speaker, and I wanted to be ready for what I hoped might be a rush of people who would like to know more about And Life Comes Back.

By the time I got to the table, there was a line of 25 people. Lined up, patiently waiting. They had stepped out of the session early so they could get in line to get a signed copy of the book.

From a marketing standpoint, this is awesome. And many people at the publishing house I work with are delighted by this kind of a response.

From a practical standpoint, I was not ready. I wasn’t ready! I didn’t have my books set out. I didn’t have my cash box ready. My ipad wasn’t yet connected to my hotspot since internet in the arena was sketchy, so I couldn’t use my software for receiving credit cards. I was all thumbs, I tell you. My thoughts were a mess, my words were jumbled, I couldn’t seem to find one thing that would lead to another and rectify this moment.

I shared a table with Jennifer. She sold the book her husband had written, a small group’s guide to freedom. Jennifer stepped into help me, immediately receiving payment from cash buyers. And eventually, I found my groove. But I’ll tell you: it was a stressful few minutes when all I could think about were the people who waited, the people whom I served with no efficiency whatsoever.

But that’s not what they were thinking. Because, I learned, they knew me now. I had just stepped off the stage and shared the shattering of my life, the beginning of redemption that is unfolding in my life.

I had been vulnerable, and my vulnerability gave them permission to speak. My story had triggered something within them, some piece that needed out. So they lined up at my table, and I listened to their stories. They handed me their hidden treasures, their greatest pain, their darkest hours.

Full Length Portrait Of Men And Women Standing Together In A Lin

A girl whose boyfriend just lost his mom.  I later met the boyfriend, too.
The father who celebrated his daughter’s 18th birthday, although she died eleven years ago. She slipped away in his arms after a long battle with cancer that should never touch childhood at all.
The woman whose story matches mine; her husband died when she was six months pregnant. But now she is married again with four healthy children, and she thought she was healed and whole. She stood before me, her hands shaking in mine, and she said, “Tricia, I thought I was done. I thought I had finished grieving this. I’m so afraid. I have so much work to do.”

The woman who couldn’t speak at all, but she simply extended her hands from her heart to mine.
The woman whose neighbor’s husband had just died – the very night before – in San Diego’s torrential rains.
The woman in public ministry who learned that her husband who has been sexually abusing their daughters, and the problem is, she doesn’t hate him. She loves him. And she must leave him in the name of her daughters’ safety. And she will do it all in the fishbowl of public ministry.

The young woman who said, “God asked me as I listened to you, ‘Do you have what it takes? Would you give everything?'”
The mother whose daughter was born without a cerebellum, and she lived to be eight years old but never progressed out of infancy.
The woman who has written a book about her son’s autism, that other families may be set free.

The woman who came to me, telling me about her widowed sister who isn’t handling this well at all.
“Of course, she isn’t,” I said. “Neither did I.”
“Stay close to her,” I whispered.
I spoke with more than 200 people.
I listened to their stories. I let them cry.
And I gave them permission to feel.
And somewhere along the line, I sold some books…every book I had brought with me. And even when I had no books to give, still they came to me, that I may show them where I find my hope.

I am home now, thinking and remembering the moments, the conversations, the people, the stories, the faces.  I prayed for them this morning,

photo-1the crowd and the individuals. The many and the ones.

It may seem like a doodled mess, but each one represents a person whom I carry to God today. He knows their names. I call on the Holy Spirit to intercede with sighs too deep for words.

And I am humbled.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. Tricia, it was truly a blessing to meet you and hear your story. I was in that line and I got to meet the same people. Including David who had stage 4 cancer just a year ago and is completely clean. And Bryan who was injected with HIV at 11 months and developed full-blown aids. He’s clean now and is nothing short of a miracle. You touched all of these people. Thank you for your vulnerability. God bless you and your family in your journey!

  2. Tricia,

    sorry that Esther, Ellie and I aren’t able to make contact too often, but I want you to know that you and the boys are in our prayers. You are an almighty warrior bringing light and truth into the homes of multitudes. Thanks for your openness and willingness to listen to other peoples stories as well. Life comes back and it is great to see you walking out in faith, may God bless you and the boys with unimaginable joy in the future. God bless

    J x

  3. Oh Tricia, I am so jealous that my sister got to meet you. I told her to MAKE SURE she meets you and reminds you of me. Perhaps I am the widowed sister you speak of as I now wage my own battle with cancer and the chaos and pain it has brought to my children. Two do not speak with any of the family but each other and it is a heartache worse than losing my husband. He did not choose to leave me and they are, and in my darkest hour. Im trying to keep my head above water but I long for home. I long for no more pain. No more panic attacks. Longing! But I also long to be at my grandaughters wedding ( she turns 1 tomorrow) and my grandsons college graduation. I wish God would just show up for coffee one day and say “OK, here is how this is gonna play out….” Im not much into anymore faith journey right now. I just want a stable place to plant my feet. I care little right now of being and inspiration or a Godly example. I would just like to make it off of this dung heap someday. Thank you for being willing to sit on this big pile of $#@& with us and speak life to our weary, broken, distraught souls. You know I love you and someday I will tell you in person. Maryellen

  4. Hello Tricia,
    I bawled my eyes out as I read this from you today. What a blessing you were to all of those who waited in line to share their stories with you. Listening and speaking gently are God’s ways for us to show His great love and others and you surely did just that, and now you are praying for them. I love your book and have read it twice on my kindle. I treasure it. May God continue to bless you and your sons as together you traverse this road with Him.
    Much love in Christ, Nancy Adams Akron, Ohio

  5. Just like Jesus did, and does…. “I am home now, thinking and remembering the moments, the conversations, the people, the stories, the faces. I prayed for them this morning, the crowd and the individuals. The many and the ones.”

    Thank you for that.

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