Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Behind Those Eyes -- An Open Letter

Dear Lisa,

I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know your little girl this last month or so. You were so right when you wrote how beautiful she is! (For those reading this open letter, the little girl is Lisa Whittle's newest book Behind the Eyes.)

Thank you for unmasking, as you put it, the "great charade of womanhood." Your honesty helped me look at the places where I pretend rather than risk being real.

Can I share with you a few of the things that touched me?

First, I love how you write from your heart. While you share that you recognize "Ms. Confidence" in yourself, you also take risks and are vulnerable. I know that you may not meet many of your readers until heaven, I think it still takes courage to put your soft spots out there in such a public way.

Second, I identify with some facet of each of the personification you put forth.

  • I am a perfectionist at heart. I demand it of myself and always have. When I was in undergrad, I was disappointed with a 3.86 GPA. In grad school, I managed the 4.0, but found that even that didn't satisfy. You see, I fell short. There was a special test at the end and the top 5 would graduate with "honors." (As if the privilege of getting such a great education wasn't honor enough, I was dismayed to be only in the top 7.) I write that only to say that I am a harsh task master with myself. While I wouldn't say it so boldly, at times it spills into my relationships and the standards I set there.

  • Ms. Confidence is a face I also wear. While I may often be the "soft one" in relationships, I do not have many close friends. For most of the world, I quietly pretend that I have it all in hand. I keep people locked out.

  • I cannot say that I exude Ms. Happiness, but I do recognize parts of her. I cannot let someone know that something is wrong. If I do, I do so apologetically. "Yes, this awful, horrible thing just happened but it really isn't so bad and I'm really okay and I'm sorry to bother you with it and I'll just let you go now."

  • Ms. Spirituality -- yes, I know her too. I loved the years I spent in ministry. But at times, I confess, I may drop that bit of information as a means to impress. "Yes, 11 years serving God in full time ministry . . . ." It's not every time, but some times Ms. Spirituality is behind it. Perhaps it is even in sharing obscure Bible trivia. Yes, we are to know scripture but the reason behind it is not to impress!

Third, thank you for giving voice to the feelings we conceal. I resonated so with that chapter that I read it twice! Loneliness and jealousy are my biggest vices. Loneliness drives me to look at everyone else and say, "Why didn't they invite me?" My jealously is largely relational. I struggle to simply be happy when someone is able to steal away some time with another friend. I recognize it as a barrier to relationships. It adds enough weight to what should be a buoyant relationship to sink the ship. But I am working on it and growing. Thanks so much for sharing about your friendship! It sounds special indeed.

Lastly, thanks for sharing the "real deal." I love the way you reveal God's heart in those last chapters. I love what your wrote: "God already know that He accepts us just as we are . . . with all of our failures and faults and insecurities, but He was us to know that -- really know that." I pray that what God is doing through you will cement that more firmly for every woman who reads your book.

Thank you for sharing the truth. It does, indeed, set us free.

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Lisa said...

I am moved beyond words by this incredible letter and endorsement of the book! Thank you, from the depths of my heart, for taking the time to review the book in this way and especially, to let me know the specific things that touched your heart. You are such a special soul, and I am drawn to your genuineness.

It is, indeed, so hard sometimes to be real and honest, especially with ourselves. BTE was such a labor of love for me...and yet, at some points it was painfully hard for me to write. But I have prayed that God would touch hearts and lives of women who read it, and He has answered that for me with you, my friend. Praise Him!

Thank you, Amy. I am so moved. I will forever cherish this "testimony."


Nicki said...

I can't wait to read this book! It sounds amazing and I loved reading all your thoughts on it!! Great stuff!!