Last week I was visiting my friend Julie and her family in Orlando, having just had an incredible two days working at the National Religious Broadcasters’ convention. She asked me a very simple question: “Have you seen I Am Second?” My answer was no, and she sat me down to show me a sample from the site. It would turn out to be something that has so deeply encouraged me that I knew I had to share it with you, and the more I hear people’s stories that have been a part of it, the more aware I am of how redeemable we can be if we let God love us.
I Am Second was started in Dallas by Norm Miller, the founder of Interstate Batteries. It was designed to strengthen believers in the DFW Metroplex area, and since then has become an international movement. The site, which can be found at iamsecond.com, is organized into topics such as anger, success, pornography, divorce abuse, drugs, fatherlessness, etc, and you can go straight to a topic or to the person who is telling their story. It is a feast and a “life hack,” and I am a raving fan.
The format is elegantly simple. People of all walks of life sit in a comfortable white chair and tell their stories and struggles as though they are at your kitchen table. They make it very clear that God is first and they are second, and they end their segment with “My name is so-and-so, and I am second.” Anyone can become a “second.” While the majority of people may be well known in their field, or be true celebrities who are household names, what is wonderfully jarring is the simple humility with which they tell their stories, on average in about seven minutes, and how quietly those stories seep into your soul and remind you that you are not alone.
Mike Huckabee talks about being a political figure, but with deep tenderness speaks of his wife’s health challenges. Scott Hamilton talks about being an Olympic Gold medal skater, as well as his battle with testicular cancer. Kathy Ireland talks about being a super-model, and what it took for her to pursue true and lasting beauty from within. LeCrae is a rapper, Josh Turner is a country music star, Stephen Baldwin is an actor, Bethany Hamilton is a surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack.
Each one of the stories of the famous folks is touching because it is so easy to think that fame and fortune equal happiness and a problem-free existence, and that is far from the case with these “seconds.” There are other stories of people whose lives were complete train wrecks, filled with crime, violence, prostitution, drugs, and while in a different way they light up the grace of God in neon, sometimes people who just have “regular lives” (whatever that is) feel as though they have no testimony of worth. However, the “normal people” show up on I Am Second, too, and their stories are just as riveting.
I have always found that learning the back story of anything-- a song, a book, or a person-- invariably gives a depth and ballast to what they have created, but I was not prepared for what I heard from film maker Alex Kendrick. Alex and his brother Stephen are the producers of Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, and War Room. Their success is an anomaly in the movie industry, but what I learned from Alex sitting in “the white chair” is that his own marriage was in trouble when Fireproof was being produced, and he actually had to apply the 40 day marriage challenge called The Love Dare to his own relationship with his wife. Alex had to come face-to-face with the fact that he wasn’t stepping up as a dad, and the call to fathers that is so beautifully portrayed in Courageous is in part based on his own life.
Alex knows that each story they produce is going to be harder and harder to do, and the cost will get deeper, no matter what return is garnered at the box office, but he is willing to be second, and he inspires me to be truly second. Will you join me?