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Heather Holleman: (Re-) Born Identity

with Heather Holleman | September 9, 2022
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Love Taylor Swift? Love Jesus? So does author Heather Holleman. She'll show you how to get as natural talking about Jesus as the new swiftie album.


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  • Shelby Abbott

    Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States. Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life), Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Love Taylor Swift? Love Jesus? So does author Heather Holleman. She’ll show you how to get as natural talking about Jesus as the new swiftie album.

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Heather Holleman: (Re-) Born Identity

With Heather Holleman
September 09, 2022

Real Life Loading… 

References to conferences, resources, or other special promotions may be obsolete. 

Season 1, Episode 1: (Re-) Born Identity 

Guest: Heather Holleman 

Air Date: September 10, 2022 

Shelby: Share a highlight or two with me that kind of stands out to you, over the last several years, of being a professor. 

Heather: I'm a natural matchmaker. I don't know if you do this, Shelby. 

Shelby: No! 

Heather: My favorite stories are when I see a spark between two students—and I’m so bad!—I’ll put them in like peer workshop together. I'll like put them in groups together, and I'll be like, “I know that something's going to happen.” 

Shelby: You’re like the living Bumble app. [Laughter] 

Heather: Yes, I am responsible for many a dating relationship. One couple that I set up—they were actually in two separate classes—they did not know each other. I think they dated for like eight years; I think they’re still together. 

Shelby: Wow! 

Heather: Maybe I have a gift, Shelby. [Laughter] 


Shelby: Somewhat anxious—always authentic—this is Real Life Loading… I’m your host, Shelby Abbott, and this is our very first episode! I’m so excited. Our desire with this podcast is to help guide you toward the life-changing power of Jesus for relationships in a constantly shifting culture. 

We’re called Real Life Loading—dot, dot, dot—and those three dots at the end of our title are really significant. The dots describe being in process: we haven’t arrived; we’re very much in a state of loading. And it’s my job to be a trusted friend and help you walk closely with God in the humor and hardship of life. We’re going to do that in a number of different ways in the many episodes to come. 2 

I’ve been doing that for the last 20 years in a campus ministry called Cru®. I’ve worked with college students for my entire career, been a speaker at universities all around the United States, and written books on things like wrestling with doubt, dating, cohabitation, and what it looks like to live under the unique pressures as a 20-something. I love working with young people because I know the potential you have to change the world for the glory of Jesus, and that’s what this podcast is all about. 

I thought we’d start strong with our first episode and talk with my friend, Dr. Heather Holleman. “Dr. H” as she’s affectionately known at Penn State is the college professor you wish you had. She’s an associate teaching professor of English with over 25 years of experience in the college classroom. Heather’s a national public speaker; she’s a podcaster, and an award-winning author of over eight books, including the bestseller, Seated with Christ. 

But on a personal note, she’s really just a great friend, and she’s been a kind-hearted cheerleader for me, especially in my early days as a writer, when I was trying to get published. 

To start, I’m going to ask her some important stuff about Taylor Swift, and then move on to other pressing things like Christian identity, shame-messaging, chasing fame, Tik Tok® jealousy, and the narcissistic tendencies of human beings. It’s going to be NOT boring. Here’s my conversation with Heather Holleman. 


Shelby: Alright; so we are both fans of Taylor Swift. I wanted to ask you—I don't know if I've ever asked you this question—“What Taylor Swift song kind of always gets you emotional? What's guaranteed to like spark some kind of thing in you from a specific Taylor Swift song? 

Heather: Okay; first of all, that's such a good question because nobody has asked me, and I don't think my answer is going to be traditional. Like I'm supposed to say, you know, All Too Well or whatever. Okay, let me set the scene—Begin Again—have you heard it?—the red album. 

Shelby: Yes, yes. 

Heather: I love that song because it's about starting fresh after your heart has been broken, so that gets me every time. It's like a spiritual experience for me to listen to that song. [Laughter] 

The other song that really sets a mood, and just gets me—and my students laugh about this because nobody ever says this is—is I love August from Folklore. Do you remember? 3 

Shelby: Yes, yes. 

Heather: Or is that evermore? 

Shelby: Is it Folklore? 

Heather: Yes, it's such a scene like of—and I love it—it's like one of the characters goes back to school and it's like the end of summer. I just remember being young, and in college, and all those feelings. So I love those two songs. 

Taylor Swift is a genius at creating a mood for people, but those are the two that get me the most. 

Shelby: Yes, she creates that environment, pretty dynamically, through a three-and-a-half minute song. 

Heather: I love it. What about you?—am I allowed to ask you questions too? 

Shelby: Yes, you're totally allowed to; I love that. 

Heather: Okay; because I love Begin Again—I love it—what about you? 

Shelby: Red was an album that was like: “This is different; she's doing something different.” 

And literally, in my top 10 albums of all time, is 1989. I don't know if I could pick a specific song from 1989; but All You Had to Do Was Stay, I think is one of those that always creates like a feeling in me. 

And then the song she wrote: Style. 

Heather: Have you seen her in concert?—have you seen her? 

Shelby: I haven't, but my wife has. She went and saw her during the—which I think was a step-down album after 1989 

Heather: Reputation. 

Shelby: —the Reputation tour, she went to that one—it was like dark Taylor—but Rachel loved it; she thought it was amazing. But I have not seen her in concert. Now, have you? 

Heather: No—and we both have two little girls—although my girls are in college now. I think it's on our bucket list to go if she does the Stadium Tour again. 4 

You know, she is one of my celebrities that I would love to meet. Everyone would always say: “What would you ask her? What would you talk about?” But just talking about how she nourishes creativity—how she/”What is her secret for staying so creative?”—don't you just want to know? 

Shelby: Especially, over the pandemic, she put out what?—four or five albums? Granted, some of them were like the Taylor's version of her old records; but I was shocked by how much new music she created. She just didn't waste the quarantine time at all. 

I can talk about this with you— 

Heather: —forever. 

Shelby: —forever, yes; but we got to move on. 

Heather: We’ve got to move on. 

Shelby: I know you're a passionate person. What do you pound the table about, so to speak? I know there's probably several things, but try to just pick one. What is the main thing that you're most passionate about that you want to stand on the soapbox all the time? 

Heather: Well, you know, the first thing that came to mind was actually the nerdiest thing I could ever say—and that is my passion for helping students avoid weak verbs—I'm not even kidding. [Laughter] I am passionate about grammar and helping people develop a winner of a written voice. I'm really known for that at Penn State—like immediately—helping students improve their writing. So I care deeply about that; that would be in my professional life. 

And then the other thing that I just care really deeply about is helping people connect with Jesus through Scripture: just how powerful God's Word is, how it transforms your life, and helping younger people just take that spiritual discipline seriously of reading God's Word—knowing that God will use it to change you—and the ability to connect with Jesus and experience His presence through the Word. I just love talking about that. 

Those are the two things that, really, my whole life is about helping people write and helping people connect with Jesus—there's really not much more to me, Shelby—and Taylor Swift. [Laughter] 

Shelby: Well, I mean, being a Christian on a university campus, as an instructor, is obviously pretty unique—I think the fact that you could say that about yourself is—not many people can. Obviously, the teaching when it comes to like academics—but you're also a teacher from the stage—you've written several things about what it's like to be a follower of Jesus Christ and what that process looks like as we communicate with 5 

others about what we believe. For a Christian, why is evangelism more about who we are than actually what we do? 

Heather: Well, this was the breakthrough moment for me, when I was reading the book of John several years ago, I noticed that the number one way Jesus describes the Father, in the book of John, is “the Father who sent Me. And I was circling that because you know I love vivid verbs; all of my books are about verbs. When I got to John 20:21, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you,”—I'm circling that. 

At the same time, I'm looking through the Gospels. I love like Matthew 4:19, where He says, “Follow Me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” I was like, “Wait; this seems like an inevitable part of your identity with Christ—like this is what Jesus is doing—this is the whole show; this is the entire thing. And I was like, I've always thought of it as like this task—you know, the Great Commission—the task of it. And I always was filled with like guilt and shame about: “Oh, if only I loved Jesus more, I'd share my faith.” But then when I realized this kind of sent identity—where God's always at work to draw people to Himself—He chooses to use us to lead others to Jesus. And that work is continually happening. 

What it is—is you're just kind of aligning yourself to your identity, in Christ, as sent—like He could sanctify us immediately and take us to heaven, but we're still here. So the sent identity is: “Everywhere that you are, even today, God is sending you to be an agent of blessing and proclamation wherever you are.” It makes life so exciting—it's not something I'm doing—it's who I am. And I just need to keep alert to what the Holy Spirit is doing. It makes life so fun. 

Shelby: Yes—the way you're talking about it—it's like: “Hey, it's an invitation into abundant life.” 

Heather: Yes! 

Shelby: Like we talk about: “Oh, the Christian life is supposed to be a life of abundance”; yet, we still look at it as a bunch of checklists to go down and say: “Well, I got to do this,” and “I got to do this,” and “I should share my faith, so I guess I'll go out and do that,” or “I should go do it, but I don't want to; therefore, I'm going to feel guilty about it,”—that kind of thing. 

You're talking about something totally different—totally different rewiring of the spiritual DNA of a person that makes them into a new creation—and it's not something that we accomplish; it's a part of who we are. 

Heather: Yes; and it's so great that it's almost like, when you walk into a room, it's almost like your first thought can be: “Okay, God, You sent me here. Who, here, doesn't yet know Jesus?” It's really fun. And then a lot of supernatural things happen: like God puts me in the path of people that clearly are asking about Jesus, or He puts me in the 6 

path of someone who needs prayer—it's not always gospel proclamation—it's just being there and you know God has sent you to bless or care for them. It's just you waking up every day and saying: “Okay, I'm available; send me,” and “Open my eyes to who needs You and how I can talk about You today.” That's pretty much every day of my life now. 

Shelby: That's beautiful. 

I remember you sharing in your book, Seated with Christ: “My motivation isn't to please God or to earn his favor; that's already decided. My motivation is to enjoy Jesus more and more.” 

Shelby: How is that motivation especially true when we look at ourselves as being sent Christians? 

Heather: Well, the way I see it is: “What is Jesus doing?”—He is seeking and saving the lost. He is still doing that. Jesus says, “My Father is always at work. And to this day, I, too, am working.” And I like to think of the unchanging nature of God, so He is actively seeking and saving the lost. So when I'm participating in that, it's a way to experience intimacy and enjoyment of God, because we're doing something that God's doing: I'm doing something with Him, and we're together in it. And it makes me enjoy Him more. 

And I'm still trying to find this study about how less than three percent of Christians share their faith. But the three percent who do always describe their relationship with God as like—"vibrant,” “abundant,” “exciting”—they can't get enough of Him; I just think that's so true. When I'm engaging in this sent life, it makes me really excited to just be with Jesus; because the whole thing is just so supernatural. 

And so you’re not motivated to like do something for God; you're doing something with God. He doesn't need us. He just likes to be with us, I think, because He can proclaim through donkeys, or dreams, or birds. I mean, He sent the ravens to Elijah! [Laughter] I mean, He doesn't need us. 

I don't know; it's more just like: “Jesus, we're, here, together; use me.” I try not to make it like super mystical; it's more just the faith that: “I'm here with You, God,” and “You can use me today,” and “Let's do this together.” 

So there's never shame or guilt. I also wrote my dissertation on the emotion of shame, and I'm very sensitive to shame messaging. I've [heard] a lot of sermons, where people shame you. And they say things, like: “Good Christians share their faith,” or “If you love Jesus more, you'd share your faith; or something must be wrong with you.” You know what I mean?—have you ever been in church, where you just feel under? 

Shelby: Totally. 

Heather: You know, I don't like that; and it sends people into hiding. 7 

Shelby: And if they do act, it's not out of a place of sincerity. 

Heather: Yes; and then the other thing is you don't keep track of anything; there's no measure of success—it’s just—you were with God; and if someone prays to receive Christ, it's this moment of rejoicing. It may be one person in your whole life, or it may be one person a year. I don't like comparing fruitfulness. 

You also never know where you are on the journey, of where God's sending you. That's what I love about teaching; I feel like I'm an intervening presence in the lives of these students, and I don't know what part of the journey I'm playing. I love that; I'm like: “Am I a farmer here? Am I just cultivating the soil of their heart?” “Am I, the fisherman, using spiritual language, seeing if they take the bait?” 

Shelby: Right. 

Heather: So it's just fun. 

Shelby: So that spiritual journey chart of like: -10 all the way up to the 0; and then 0 to 10—you know, 0 is the moment when someone trusts Christ—when they, actually, move from -1 to a 0. 

But when you're engaging with people—wherever they are before they become a Christian: they could be at a -8, or they could be at a -3, or they can be at a -1, and you get to see them move from a -1 to 0—but that's not the only place that there's success there. We can engage in people's lives, when they're at -9, and you have one conversation that moves them one step a little bit closer to coming to know the Lord. All of that is “success” because it's faithfulness; it's obedience to Jesus. And in obedience, there is joy; because it's part of who we are. 

Heather: Yes. 

Shelby: And now, it’s time for “Three dots…three thoughts” on Real Life Load… We’ll get back to the conversation in just a second, but this is where I share three simple ideas that could potentially change your life—they probably won’t—but they could. 

Thought 1: You may have heard of the Frankenstein’s monster of fast food called a McChubble. This is where you go to McDonald’s®—buy a McDonald’s McChicken® sandwich; also, you buy a McDouble® burger. You pull the chicken from the bun, put it in between the two patties on the burger; and there you have a McChubble. 

A couple of friends of mine decided to do something a little bit different, not too long ago. We decided to create what we call the premium McChubble. This is far superior than the regular McChubble. This is where you go through the drive-thru of Chick-fil-A®; 8 

you order a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich without the bun. And then you drive your car over to Five Guys® Burgers and Fries. If you order a regular burger at Five Guys, they will give you two patties as a part of the regular order. You order a burger and whatever toppings you want; then, when you sit down at the table, you insert the Chick-fil-A filet into the middle of your Five Guys burger—and boom—you have the premium McChubble. It sounds like it won’t be good—but I promise you—if you indulge in this delicacy, you will not regret. 

Thought 2: As you get older, you’ll find that you need to buy certain things that you’ve never thought about buying before. Here’s my advice: “Never buy generic brand Q-tips. Saving 70 cents on buying off-brand is never worth it in this category. Get the real thing.” 

Thought 3: One of the very best short modern books you can buy, for super cheap on Amazon®, is The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller. I re-read it as often as I can, and I absolutely love it. It is the most loving, friendly, gentle, gracious punch to the gut that you’ll receive in a small book. 

This has been “Three dots…three thoughts” on Real Life Loading… Now, back to my conversation with Heather Holleman. 

Shelby: You say that there's, obviously, excitement and fruitfulness that can happen when it comes to communicating our faith. But you also say maybe God knows that I need seasons of total emptiness—no fruit; not even blossoms—in order to get my roots deep and strong. 

When was the last time you experienced a kind of season like that and how did it shape you? 

Heather: You know, I wrote that line from Seated with Christ; because there've been a lot of things I've imagined for myself that God was not bringing about—and you'll understand this—I mean, I tried for 15 years to publish my novels: rejection after rejection, changing agents, all this stuff. I thought, “Okay, this dream is not coming true. 

And then what happened was—all those rejections—you know, being in like a semi-rural farming community, I did learn a lot about how it works with plants and how you don't want them to bear fruit too soon; because they need to focus all the nutrients on the roots. Some trees actually have a chilling requirement or they won't bear fruit; they need a certain number of days of really cold weather. I just watched these kinds of natural processes. 

What happened in the season—the 15 years of rejection and times when I don't—like, maybe, if you're listening, and it's like a time of confusion/like you don't exactly know what you should be doing, or you're in transition—that is what I call a season of 9 

preparation. When you're in a season of preparation—because you don't know what God's doing—that is when I read God's Word/tons of time in the Word. It's your season of preparation—prayer; the Word—you don't know how God's going to bear fruit through it. 

Now, a lot of times—when I speak, or talk, or whatever—people will say: “How do you know God's Word like that? You're always quoting Scripture. How do you know it? How do you remember?” I love, in Psalm 119:71, the priest says: “It was good for me to be afflicted, so I would learn Your Word.” So whenever—if you're suffering or struggling—just read God's Word; believe it; memorize it; and then God will bear fruit. 

Shelby: —His kind of fruit. 

You said something to me at one point, when I was in the doldrums of trying to get published: “Every rejection is God's protection.” I just found that, functionally: “You know, I don't believe that.” I could give intellectual ascent to it, and be like, “Yes, fundamentally, I believe that. But in reality, am I living that way?”—as if every rejection is God's protection when that breakup happens. 

“Is that God's protection?”—it doesn't feel like it sometimes—my pain; or my rejection of not being published; or me not getting what I wanted, career-wise or whatever—really, fundamentally, believing that every rejection is God's protection—and knowing that His plan is always what's best for me. Again, I could say that with my lips; but I need to believe that with my heart and live it every day. 

Heather: Well, you have to believe, number one, that God sees what we don't see; so He/you don't know what He has saved you from. 

Well—and I'm old enough now, that every rejection I experienced—I can see/I think, if I had gotten all those early publications of the novels, it probably would have corrupted my soul; and I would have never written Seated with Christ. I would have become a fiction career author. I would have never had any of the understanding I did to write Seated… or the books that followed. 

Shelby: Yes; and that's so important, I think, for young people to know and understand; because they're constantly being bombarded with people, who are getting famous as teenagers, on Tik Tok® and YouTube, and social media apps. They think, “Oh, I want to make a billion dollars by the time I turn 25. He did it,” or “She did it. I can do it too.” 

I've always been firmly of the belief—working with students over long, long periods of time—is that success, without character, just always leads to very dark and dangerous places—always. 

Heather: —always. You can see it; you can interview people. I've never—that's 100 percent true—and it is sad. I mean, I don't know how deep into Tik Tok you are—but if you follow the stories of like the Hype House; or you know, Charli; and the people who 10 

are getting verified, and now they're getting endorsements and brand opportunities—they all say the problem is: “Most people are miserable,”—but—“Some people are doing it well, especially, if they're like makeup artists or comedians.” 

There are ways to do it well—but oh, my gosh; oh, my gosh—that could be a whole other podcast, just talking about fame. You and I both like to talk about the dangers of fame, because you had—you and I aren't like internationally famous or whatever, but we do have just enough public recognition that it's just enough—do you know what I mean?—where you can think about: what this is doing to your soul; I don't know. 

Shelby: Yes, that's very true, like, “What's the cost of success?” It's just really, really high; and we don't see it, because everybody's chasing it so much. It's that classic dog chasing the car: “Wouldn’t know what to do with it once they got it,” or “Once they get it, their face slams into the bumper”; and they're like: “This is what I wanted so much, but it's not what it was promising me in my heart,” if that makes sense. 

Okay; help me understand what you mean here, when you say this: “Because you're seated in Christ, at your own seat, this day will look nothing like your best friend’s, your coworkers’, or your neighbors’.” 

Heather: That's about jealousy and comparison. That's about waking up and wishing you had a different life. And I know—because I'm also on Tik Tok with all of you guys—you know? I come from wealth—I have family members who get to enjoy a totally different life than me—and I wrote that sentence because God was really teaching me: “Wherever you are, I've ordained this for you. This is part of your seat in Christ. You're seated at the table; this is what your seat is and the good works, I prepared in advance, for you to do,”—that's the end of Ephesians 2:10—that He's designed and ordained the fruitfulness of your life. So the day is not going to look anything like anyone else's, and it's not less beautiful or powerful. 

The quote God led me to was inside this book from the Hayden Planetarium that said: “All seats provide equal viewing of the universe.” I felt myself like tearing up; because at the time, I was like feeling like we were really poor; we were never going to have money: “Where's my glamorous life?” 

I contacted the Hayden Planetarium and I was like, “Could you tell me about this quote, ‘All seats provide equal viewing of the universe.’” And the media director there said to me that, when the children rush into the planetarium, they all fight for a seat in the front row in an arena, where there are no best seats. The guide in the big planetarium has to say, “Children, all seats provide equal viewing of the universe. No matter where you sit, you won't miss any part of the show.” 

I got really overwhelmed because I thought, “Okay, all seats—when you're seated with Christ—no matter what's happening in your day, you have equal access to God's power, presence, all the joy, all the love.” And the way I know that's true is Paul was 11 

most likely writing that from a Roman prison. So he was experiencing, himself, in a different reality. 

It really did save me from jealousy. Now, I rejoice in what other people get to do; because I'm like, “Oh, that's their seat. That’s the good works God's ordained for them.” And He even ordains the wealth for you or whatever; so I'm like, “Okay, this is what our financial situation is; this is what the work is for my day. And it doesn't look like anyone else's.” I don't normally struggle with jealousy anymore. And if I do, I just remember Ephesians 2. 

I don't know; do you struggle with jealousy still?—or are you so mature? [Laughter] 

Shelby: I struggled a lot with jealousy in my early days of trying to get published, and seeing other people get published; and you know, honestly, making the comparison and going, “I'm a better writer than them. I should be published and they shouldn’t.” 

And you know, those are one of those things that I would keep those thoughts and feelings in. I would never tell anyone that I thought those things, because I tried to appear like I had it altogether or that I was “happy” for them, when really, on the inside, burning with jealousy. 

And sure: there are times, when I look at the lives of other people and go, “Why aren't I there?” And then, in the next breath, being able to see, like, “You know what? God knows exactly what He's doing with me, and anything other than what He's laid out for me, would be wrong. It might look successful in the eyes of the world, or even the eyes of myself; but if it were a different way, it would be wrong. So I need to trust that God is leading and in the process of directing everything, sovereignly, in my life and in my heart.” 

That doesn't mean I [don’t] struggle though; so I still do. 

Heather: Yes, I do; it is bad. I mean, Satan was able to convince Eve—I mean, she's in paradise—and Satan's able to convince her that she's missing something. So I always remember that, but— 

Shelby: Yes; well, as we're thinking about the topic of comparison—a subject nearly every person/young person deals with—"Why are both superiority and inferiority different sides of the same coin?” 

Heather: They're both narcissistic tendencies; they're both self-obsession. People who are constantly thinking they're inferior are just as self-obsessed as people who constantly think they're superior; it's the same thing. 

What I love about thinking about being seated with Christ/thinking about being sent: is whenever you can take your eyes off yourself—and realize you're kind of all seated 12 

together: nobody's inferior; nobody's superior—and to stop trying to wonder where you stand with any/you know, not measuring yourself against anyone—life just becomes much easier. You're just there to serve and bless people, like you don't need to compare yourself. 

Shelby: That's good, especially as—you know, young people are growing up, and even in the college environment, which I know you see all the time—people scrambling for position, trying to get better grades, trying to get the good job, trying to get the internship, trying to get the girl, trying to get the guy—a front seat at the planetarium—you know? Everybody's trying to get there. Consequently, there's a lot of like negative resentment toward other people for getting what they feel like they deserve. 

Okay; so I like to end every interview with a question related to the three dots because the three dots implies: in process; things are loading. When you think about your phone, and getting those three dots, that can bring up a lot of different emotions. “What's the most nervous you've ever been when you've gotten the three dots on your phone, as you've texted someone?” 

Heather: I would say: if I know I've hurt someone's feelings and I'm apologizing. I like to be at peace with people and know that I haven't hurt people. So whenever I've had to say: “I'm sorry,” or “I'm worried that I hurt you”; I don't like that. 

But on the flip side, I do love the happy nerves associated with things like book contracts, or hearing back from publishers—that's the best—or if my daughter/you know, she's applying to be an RA; so after this call, I'm going to text and be like, “Hey, did you get to the next interview round?” I just get so nervous for those three dots, like, “What is it going to be?” 

I don't know; what about you? I just love that; but mine is if I've hurt someone's feelings. 

Shelby: Yes; I think that's a good one, because there's always like: “Will they accept my apology?” “Will they be soft?” or “Will they say, ‘Yes, why did you do that?’” 

Because I've definitely apologized to a family member once, and said, “I did this, and I said this; and I'm sorry.” And their response was: “Why did you do that? That really hurt me.” It wasn't an acceptance of my apology—and that, really—yes, that was intense. 

Another time, I had the chance to go to a conference. I met kind of a famous Christian and got to take a picture with him. When I took a picture with him, I posted it on Instagram®. A friend of mine, who knows me well—he wrote me and he said—“So we're taking pictures with Christian celebrities and posting that on Instagram. Now, is that the vibe you're going for?—is trying to put that out there.” 13 

And I was devastated; I mean that rocked me. It devastated, because I was like—you know why?—because he was right. I was doing it for the wrong reason; I was doing it because I was trying to gloat. 

And so it just destroyed me; but at the same time, it destroyed me because I knew he was right. So I deleted it, and then we had a conversation. I was like, “Can we talk about this on the phone instead of our text message?”—because every text— 

Heather: Does he know that God used him in your life? Because I had something very similar happened when I spoke at my very first huge speaking event—you know, where there's like a green room, and lights, and photographers—and I was coming off the stage. And all these people wanted my picture, and they wanted to talk to me. 

My assistant whisked me away, and took me into the car, and drove me away from that event. I turned to her and I said, “Why did you do that? Those people needed me.” And she said, “Heather, they do not need you; they need Jesus.” And she told me: “If you think God needs you; remember that he uses donkeys to deliver His message.” And for years, I kept a little donkey with me whenever I went to speaking events. 

She's my great friend; I love her. You need people like that in your life, who know—and it's kind of related to what we're talking about with fame—it's just like a temptation to think—I don't know what it is: “What's wrong with us, Shelby?”—"What is wrong with us?” 

Shelby: It's the glory that we/the glory we want—we want the glory—we don't want God in the spotlight. We want to be the center of attention. 

Heather: Doesn’t it feel so good to confess— 

Shelby: It does! 

Heather: —and be healed?—just so we know this is like a temptation for us. So like if ever something really big happens to me, where I look like I'm getting a lot of attention, you better text me and say, “Heather, is this the vibe we're going for now? Is this what’s…” 

Shelby: Yes: “Head's getting big,” “Head’s getting big.” 

Heather: That's funny. 

Shelby: Heather, you just bring so much value to this next generation of 18- to 28-year-olds; and your voice is incredibly important. And so please, please; I want to have you on again. 

Heather: I care about the young people; I definitely do. 14 


Shelby: I told you it wouldn’t be boring; right? Heather Holleman is such a gift, and her writing will undoubtedly help you too. As I mentioned, she’s authored several books, but I’d recommend you’d start by reading Seated with Christ, and then one she actually co-wrote with her husband Ashley, simply called Sent. You won’t be disappointed with either of those; I promise. 

If this conversation with Heather has been helpful for you, I’d love for you to share today’s podcast with a friend. We’re going to release new episodes once a week; but just so you know—we’ll also have bonus episodes, every once in a while, that will help you get to know me a little bit better as I seek to become a trusted friend in your life—the first one is actually already available; I hope you’ll check it out. 

And it’s embarrassingly easy to find us on our social channels: just search for Real Life Loading…; or you can look for our links in the show notes. 

I want to thank my producers, Josh Batson and Bruce Goff. I’m Shelby Abbott. Thanks for joining us for our very first episode. We’ll see you back next time on Real Life Loading… 

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