Happy FriYay! As a special nearly-weekend-treat, I wanted to share an original, raw version of Chapter 0, taken from “From #Selfie to Selfless; Living The Life You Were Created For.” Books go through a TON of edits, so this was not the exact version that went to print, but something very, very similar. I HOPE THAT YOU ENJOY! (And if you would like to purchase your own copy, then please go to the “Buy the Book” tab on the home page to purchase your copy and finish reading! There are 10 more chapters…. XO – K)
(Yes, it IS called Chapter Zero. Let’s start from zero, the origin, the very beginning, the starting line of how all of this came about)
Ch. 0: A Good Christian Author
#Confession: I honestly debated making up (and when I say ‘making up’, that really just means lie) a more profound way of telling you how this book came about, but the cold hard truth is that I never prayed to write a book about God’s love. I know, we are literally one sentence into the book, and I already sound like the worst Christian ever. #StopJudging But I do mean this whole-heartedly when I say that I’m the number one fan of God’s love, but writing a book was never something I had prayed for. Writing a book was never even on my radar, not even in my wildest dreams. If I am 1,000% honest, asking God to send me my husband took the prime-time spot in my prayer life. Pleading with God, I requested that He would send me my handsome partner-in-crime for life, someone to be my forever plus one, the sharer of my rent, the skip in my step, the beat to my heart, the annoying pain in the neck, and the chef to my breakfasts in bed. Call me whatever judgment you’d like, but I never prayed for a book. Are you CRAZY!? Why would I ever pray to write a book? There had been many other challenges in my life that I accepted and conquered, talents and gifts that I possess, but writing a book was never a challenge I saw coming, nor a talent that I would ever publicly claim. It was a more responsible decision to leave writing professionally for the more qualified authors who had intriguing thoughts, and degrees to back up those thoughts (and could actually eat without spilling on their clothes). My thoughts consisted of recent sales at my favorite online stores, how to get through an entire day without rolling my eyes at someone, how to handle my Fashion PR career, how to fight Los Angeles traffic without cursing at anyone, questioning how my insurance policies worked, and how to love my family well. I would often pray to comfort people in my ordinary life, to be used where I was called, and to flourish one of my online dating prospects into life-long partner material (#RelationshipGoals). I was an avid observer of Christian authors; I cheered them on, and I loved my cozy seat on the bench, but then God suddenly called me into the middle of the game, and I responded with, “WAIT! You want who to do what?” (One of my greatest talents Is being extremely illiterate when I’m confused, hence that charming response).
One random Monday night in spring of 2016 after leaving my small group in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA, I felt God tell me, “You know Kristen, I’ve taught you a lot of lessons during our adventurous walk together. I think you need to start writing them down. I need your voice.” I thought to myself, ‘God needs MY voice? No way, Jose. Does God know who He is talking to? He could NOT be talking to me.’ ‘Bless’, I continued in my head, ‘God is just so busy, and there are so many people in the world; simple mistake. He must be thinking of another ‘Kristen’ (there are a ton of us). God definitely wanted someone who was more pulled- together than me, someone with less attitude, someone that didn’t have a ‘glittered’ past like mine, or someone who was more loving’. What on this good Earth would I have to offer besides what shoes to wear with an outfit, or how to respond appropriately to a bad-date-text? Your guess is as good as mine. I work in Fashion PR; I did not go to Seminary School, I am not a public speaker, and I would likely offend someone with my absurdity (if I haven’t already).
There is something about God, though, when He wants to get your attention. You can run, but you can’t hide (not even in my tiny apartment, and I did give it my best shot). God allowed my soul to be roused, so even as annoyed as I was, I followed this teeny, tiny breadcrumb trail that He planted in my heart and decided to see where it led. When I got home that night, I humored God for the soul purpose of proving my point to Him that I had nothing to offer (have I mentioned how stubborn I can be?), sat down on my bed with a pen and fresh page in my note book and started to write (yes, no computer involved. I am “Old-School”). As I sat in silence waiting for a lightning bolt from Heaven to strike down, I quietly reflected on all the noble, intelligent authors whose books I had admired over all the years. I thought about the way they wrote, their genius conclusions that made my hear stir and I longed to have that same impact on someone else, like they had on me.
After not much time (because patience is not my finest quality), I came up with the title, ‘Surrendered Warrior’. True to my usual behavior, I did not consult God on this title decision, and I personally deemed it as an ‘honorable and very Christian title’. (Please don’t even ask me what ‘very Christian’ means, because I couldn’t tell you). I felt like I was a warrior for God (which I genuinely try to be), but I also felt surrendered (which I also attempt to be every day). But after scribbling my way about halfway down the page, I got complete ‘writers block’. ‘See, God? I told you that I have nothing to offer!’ But God wasn’t standing in my way, I was blocking my own way with selfishness. I was writing entirely for my own fulfillment and ego; MY insight on how to live life to the fullest, MY truth to fight off negativity, MY experience with being attacked and how to be a soldier through those difficult times. As this writer’s block built a heavy wall in my head and heart, I felt God say to me, ‘Kristen, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT IS a surrendered warrior?!? I never told you to write that! This is all YOU! I want to LEAD YOU to write about something you know…’
This left me dumb-founded, and actually feeling really embarrassed; God caught me, right then and there. I was trying to be something other than myself to see how it looked on me; if I could “pull it off”. I was trying to be a Christian writer. I was trying to be a surrendered warrior. I had this notion of what a Christian writer looked like (I was already planning out my Book Tour outfit purchases), how these respected authors wrote, and what they titled their work. I was trying to fit into shoes that weren’t my size, or wear some makeup that did not match my skin tone, and ended up looking ridiculous. God wasn’t calling me to be a Christian writer; He was calling me to be me; to share His love through my story, flaws and all, with my voice, with my heart, and to candidly share the joy, the pain and the lessons that He has so graciously taught me in hopes that you might relate, and feel God’s love touch your heart through experiences in this book.
When I finally submitted, I thought about it; ‘Ok God, WHAT could I possibly write about?’ Dating? Girl, please; unless God wanted me to write a ‘what not-to-do’ guide. Ok, how about marriage? That was as probable as giraffes going to space; nowhere in the near future. Finances? I refer to my closet as my greatest investment; where I keep my money right where I can see it. Listening to me about finances is like consulting a 4-year-old for driving directions; useless. I genuinely felt like I had nothing to offer. But God does not care about our past or personal disasters; he cares about our possibilities. God’s not looking at your resume, He is looking at your willingness. God doesn’t care if you are qualified, because he knows that you are capable. Even though I couldn’t quite recognize my potential, God already saw the finish line, and He was about to rock my world with the heart of this book, while giving me a heart for something I never saw coming.
The Great Whisper
So here I sat, on my bed, late at night, God called me out, I was trying to understand what He was doing, so where was I supposed to go from here? Back to my drawing board of topics I went. Scribbling in my notebook once again, I there was never a doubt that God loved me; I knew He had carried me through the darkest valleys and delivered great miracles time and time again. As I tried to calm my heart once more to hear what God wanted me to do, I interrupted my own thoughts again by doubting, ‘but who wants to hear some sob stories or a personal vent sesh? I mean, isn’t that what your best friends are for? (Hallelujah for amazing girlfriends. Can I get an Amen!!!) I would never subject a stranger to listen to me rant about life from my perspective. That even sounds awful to me! (It’s like when you hear your own voice on an answering machine)’. But suddenly, as I was staring at my freshly turned blank page in my journal, I just felt God simply whisper, “Repeat after me, Kristen… It’s NOT ABOUT ME!” I instantly underlined those three simple words like I had never seen them before. That simple phrase popped off the page and smacked me across the face, giving my soul the wakeup call it was craving. Then in a flash, hours flew by as the words, pages of writing, and ideas from God came flooding. My hand could hardly keep up. I felt God say, “See! You do have something to write about. You have been very good at being selfish in all areas of your life. You’ve come a long way, and I am going to use your stories to share with others, but you still have a far way to go, and I have a lot to teach you through this.”
I literally laughed out loud. God has the BEST sense of humor. He is very, very clever. God, my loving father, knows how to get me right when I need Him. He totally calls me out when I am not being real, and He encourages me in a very honest way. God never wants us to be self-deprecating, but He longs for us to see truth and humility in our lives. Imagine your very best friend; they know you to your core; they can tell when you are lying, or they have enough love for you to call you out when you are acting #TotesCray (English translation = totally crazy). God doesn’t condemn me, and He doesn’t condemn you. He lovingly corrects me when I need it most, and He would graciously do the same if you allowed Him to. When I start going off path like little wind-up toy, he simply picks me up, and sets me back on track with His loving ways.
As this fresh ‘Selfish’ epiphany settled into my soul, two thoughts instantly came to mind on opposite ends of the spectrum: 1) He STILL has lessons to teach me?!? I felt like a child in the car moaning, ‘But aren’t we there yet?!’ I was exhausted and husbandless (even boyfriend-less!); I was tired of learning, and ready for a vacation from it (#WheresMyPassport). And 2) While I was sitting in my bed deciding how to be politically correct, plotting out my Christian memoire of being a ‘Surrendered Warrior’ (again, whatever that means), and privately planning my outfits for my book tour, God shook my heart and said ‘RIGHT THERE! THAT’S WHERE IT IS! IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU, KRISTEN, AND YOUR PLANS. I have something so much greater for you if you would just let me use you! If you write this book your own way, you will continue to have writers block and will get nowhere. If you would simply just calm down and let me lead, then I have some pretty awesome things to unveil to you, which you can share with many other sisters and brothers that you have yet to meet.’ Proverbs 19:21 GNB says, “People may plan all kinds of things, but the Lord’s will is going to be done.”
So, here we are; I have a God-given PhD in being Selfish, and God has entrusted me as an expert to help rid society of this terrible epidemic that is taking over the world. I have learned to be selfish with my money (spend it how I want to), selfish with my time (what do I want to do this month?), selfish with my relationships (how are they benefiting me?), selfish with my work (is that the title that I deserve?), and the list rattles on. I am quick to hold up both hands and claim what I have been and what I am, a selfish human being. Again, this is not to be self-deprecating, but my selfishness is as simple and true as the sky is blue. I have a million other loving qualities and caring traits; many incredible talents and skills, and some ugly habits (beyond perfecting selfishness), but the key to shifting my life and my purpose came to one conclusion: living selfishly is not a satisfying life to live. I am not encouraging you to sell all your belongings, and live on the streets with a megaphone condemning all to hell to prove your point. (PLEASE definitely don’t do that). I know God wants you and loves you just where you are at, just like He has loved me exactly where I was at. No radical adjustments necessary. My only hope is that you would experience this incredible peace and encouragement that you are not alone, but quite possibly you may have just been found.
Self-Help Kristen-Help Earthly-Help God-Help
This is not a self-help book. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably already tried helping yourself in every way, shape or form possible, and it didn’t work. Or maybe ‘self-help’ books slapped a Band-Aid on your heart long enough to fix the boo-boo, until the rain came and loosened up the Band-Aid just enough for it to lose its grip, exposing your wound once more, still unhealed. I love Oprah more than champagne, but her Super Soul Sundays couldn’t fix the void inside of me. I love yoga, and the healing it brought to my body, but I was still left searching (and sweaty and sore). If you’re looking for a real transformation of the heart and head, something that will give you peace beyond any understanding, you need God’s help. You didn’t create you, so how could you know what needs to be fixed. God created you, and He’s literally the only mechanic that can help sort out the issues. That’s why I prefer to reference this book as a ‘God-help’ book. I believe we all need God’s help. And asking for help isn’t a bad thing. It’s a great thing! If you are lost while driving, you turn to your GPS maps to lead you along the right path. You rely on GPS to simply guide you to get to your final destination, so if you trust GPS, then I’m hoping you can give God a chance to trust him. I’m just here to do the writing and have been praying that God would do the healing.
Watch for the Yellow Tape
CAUTION: this book is not to beat you over the head to make you feel bad about your life (Dear Lord, I pray that’s not what you get from this), but it’s not filled with helpful advice to make you feel better. Honestly, sometimes, you might not feel better at all, and I’m sorry. It’s like going to the gym, it’s not always fun, but so necessary, and you will be so much more rejuvenated afterwards, and hopefully inspired that you are not on this journey alone. The blunt truth is: sometimes living a life of ‘it’s not all about me’ is sometimes not fun at the beginning. If I’m honest, I really wish it were all about me. That sounds way more fun! Let me just go out to this scandalous party, because it sounds so fun! I am just going to go home with this cute guy one time because it sounds like we will have fun. I am going to call out sick at work because all my friends are going to ‘the big game’, and that sounds like so much more fun. But fun and a life worth living full of purpose can be two different things. ‘Fun’ hasn’t gotten me very far. It would give me a great high in that moment, but would leave me feeling very dissatisfied once the sensation floated away. After vacations, romantic relationships, or retail therapy couldn’t fix my itch for fun, I started the search for something greater, something deeper. Sure, I still have fun and love to enjoy life. I LOVE to have fun (just ask my girlfriends; I’m not the tamest one of the bunch). I was always the friend who opted for “dare” over “truth”, but even the dares get old after a while. Going from #Selfie to selfless has brought me something so much better than ‘fun’. This realization has given me joy; pure, soul-deep, no-one-can-take-away joy. Once I claimed this joy inside of me, it led me to be aware. Aware of our surroundings, our communities, realizing that we were created to make an incredible impact, and that ordinary people like you and me can be used for extraordinary purposes. Once I laid myself down at the cross to realize the bigger picture, the more exciting picture; it’s not all about me, it’s about God! And what an exhilarating, stimulating, sensational life that is to live. WOOHOO!
But WHY is it an exhilarating, stimulating, and sensational life to live? Because there is a God who is so loving, so kind, so passionate about YOU that He didn’t create you to just simply roam the earth for some decades, collect social media followers, go on a couple trips, go to college, get a job, raise a family, retire, go to the spa, become a Bloomingdales gold-member and then die. Clarification; NONE of those things are bad (I LOVE going to the spa. I am a more kind and compassionate person at the spa. I tried to barter with God that I hear Him better at the spa, so if He could continue to fund that habit, that would be wonderful. He didn’t believe me. I tried.), but we were created for SO MUCH MORE than these earthly habits! You, my beautiful friend, were created to break chains and not live in the earthly confines of ‘what makes a life’. These things are fine, but don’t lose sight of your vision, your goal, and your purpose. YOU have breath in your lungs for a reason, and when you figure out just how valuable you are, the enemy (AKA- Satan) will deeply ache, ‘Crap. She figured it out.’ Take the enemy’s wool off your eyes, and realize your possibilities!
One of the reasons I love social media is to share amazing quotes, thoughts and scribbles with one-another. I saw an anonymous quote that read, The devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today I whispered in the devils ear, ‘I am the storm.’ Girlfriend, you are a force to be reckoned with, but that force doesn’t come from being self-centered, it comes from being self-less. This book is to encourage you to live your life as the glorious storm that you were created to be. You are meant to shake things up while drenching dry places with hope and raining love over all those so thirsty for it. God created us with a purpose so we can experience His love to the greatest extent; with massive adventures, thrilling challenges, and exciting hurtles. But it doesn’t end with us. We are then to give hope to others by sharing it. God has an incredible, unbelievable plan for us, for YOU, for me, for your dog-walker, your babysitter, your boss, your mailman, your teacher. So many people sadly miss this incredible hope and joy and peace because it is only unlocked when we come to the humbling fact that God might actually have it under control. We are to simply get out of our own way, trust Him while repeating to ourselves, “This is NOT all about me.”
This is Not a Numbers Game
It has been brought to my attention that the general public often times rolls their eyes at Christians (and very likely at this book), because they feel as though we are just trying to fill seats on Sunday services. The theory goes; the more seats filled, the more influence and money Christians will bring in, so therefore, this is not even about faith, love or hope, but it is about money and power. I personally apologize if you have ever felt this way when attending a church, because that is not how it’s supposed to work. I do not expect anyone to run to their nearest Sunday service, and feel pressured to give away all their savings after reading this book. This has nothing to do with monetary pressure, but everything to do with a personal relationship with a caring God. In fact, I challenge you, do not give a single penny to any church, until you form an authentic relationship with your Heavenly Father and feel God yanking on your heart-strings to do so. We are called to give generously, but not out of obligation. Obligated giving creates resentment. God does not want your money, because he doesn’t need it! God wants your heart, and sadly, when we perfect the art of being selfish, our hearts get buried in our savings accounts. God only calls to relieve money to Him, because we have stored so much of our hearts and security there. When we shift our eyes from selfish to selfless, we realize that we can trust in Him, because our security is in God, and not in our bank accounts. It is not about us, what church we attend, what we think about certain pastors, but it is about God, who is ultimately in control of everything and loves YOU so insanely much.
A Real Girl, Living in a Real World
Now don’t get it twisted, I am not some fairy hippie that thinks that some magical god will make all my problems go away, or create me to be a flawless person, if I simply say a few prayers. Like I’ve mentioned, I work in Fashion PR, I have a 401K, and would hope that I treat life as responsibly as I can. Life still throws its curveballs, and many times I still strike out. I am not a pastor, I am not married to one, I didn’t go to seminary school, I am not a public speaker, but I am just a girl who has felt an insane love that is true, merciful, and constant in a very inconsistent world. God is great, Jesus is so loving, the Holy Spirit is ever-present, and together, we make a pretty good team. But again, even as I write this, this is not about me, Kristen Perino, and divulging all my personal wreckage or triumph. It is to share God’s glory, forgiveness, and love through some examples I have lived through and others that I have witnessed. I am a very ordinary girl, with an extraordinary, very real relationship with God, and I long for you to experience this peace that surpasses all understanding. I don’t expect wars to stop, poverty to end, or every child to have a home by the time you finish this book. I do expect, and desirously pray, that your world be profoundly changed, your heart would be renewed, and your outlook would be altered by the simple fact that it is not about you, but it is about God’s love for you, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for you, and the life you were specifically created for. So many incredible blessings have YOUR name on them; if only you would get out of your own way and let the creator of the universe care for you in the way that He so desires to do so. This is not about a religion, it’s about a relationship, and it’s not about you, but about your relationship with a living, loving God.
I have never once regretted living life from selfish to surrendered, and I have an incredible amount of faith that you won’t regret it either.