I love books — which is a really good thing considering the whole writing career thing. Let me just stop here for a second and interject this — I'm so blessed to be writing for the Lord! How amazing that He called me — me. this faulty, confused, frazzled, mess of a person. I spend a chunk of my time trying to figure out why in the world He called me to write for Him. There are so many others who are more talented, more qualified, and skinnier — don't ask me what that has to do with anything, it just popped out.
Now, back to my love of books. While I love books, I'm bit picky. When I plunk down some hard earned dollars for a book, I want a good book. If I'm buying a non fiction book, then you better wow me.
Behind Those Eyes: What's Really Going on in the Souls of Women by Lisa Whittle is a WOW book. This book wowed my socks off. I read it and then did the whole — Wow~ this just makes so much sense, thing. Lisa does an incredible job of being real and transparent in her writing. This book makes me want to drop the mask — and yes, I've been known to don a mask every now and then.
I was fortunate to talk with Lisa about Behind those Eyes and I want to share her answers here. She's a doll and so much fun — and so transparent. Read the interview and then check out her blog at http://www.lisawhittle.com/ and go buy her book
Lisa — What led you to write Behind those Eyes: What's Really Going on in the Souls of Women ?
I've really always enjoyed having real interactions with women…building friendships and relationships around honesty about struggles and life, in general. I love women who don't try to act like they all have it together. Those are the people I am attracted to, as friends. But let's be real. Sometimes we all pretend to be someone other than who we really are. As much as I like to be the woman who people can be themselves with, there are times I put on like everyone else. Behind Those Eyes came about when I went to the hair salon one day and had a really stale and meaningless conversation with a woman I had just met. I realized that we were just pretending with each other but didn't have any idea who the other person was or what they were really all about. That day, the book was born in my heart. I caught myself having a fake interaction with someone, and it made me realize that what I was doing was very destructive to my own soul. It made me want to get real and never have another “fake” conversation with someone, again.
Lisa this book does such a great job of getting you to take a long look at yourself (at least it did that to me)– can you share some of the ways we all pretend?
Oh, yes, Mary, whether we like to admit it or not, we ALL do this at one time or another. We pretend to be perfect, having it all together with no struggles or private pain. We act happy, like we don't have a care in the world to concern us. We pretend to be confident, appearing like we don't need anyone or we are all sufficient to handle life and its issues. And we even try to pull off acting super spiritual. We jump from one “spiritual” thing to the next, whether it be a Bible study or a conference or activities at church, just so people will see us as the spiritual women we really want to be, deep down inside. All of us pretend at one time or another. Some of us pretend more than others, but we all do it. I had to really search my heart and ask God to clear out any pretense from me before I wrote one word of this book. It just wouldn't have worked any other way. I knew that if I was asking women to get real about what was going on inside their souls, I had to do it first. And believe me, I tell on myself in this book! There were definitely things I wish I could have left out, but that just wouldn't have been the truth.
All this pretending seems like such a lot of work — why do we do it?
That's a great question! We do it for many reasons…as women, we are great at justifying it and giving ourselves a good enough “reason” to carry on with our pretense and never get real. Sometimes it's because of our past and the pain that we feel from things that have happened to us. Sometimes it is our desire to get something we don't think we can get unless we hide the truth. The bottom line reason why we pretend, though, is that we want love. We want loyalty. We want joy, deep within our souls. We want purpose and fulfillment. But we don't want to do the work to get it. So we settle for the temporary “fixes” that pretense bring. And of course, in doing that, we always wind up feeling empty in the end.
The main reason we pretend is because we fear rejection. We all have memories of being rejected as children, whether on the playground at school or in the home…we remember being rejected by a boyfriend or a close friend who hurt us. Some of us have been rejected or let down by the church or someone we look up to spiritually. And so we make a decision at some point (whether conscious or unconscious) to go through life with huge walls up, just so we can never be hurt again. Of course, it never works. But we always try.
It may seem like alot of work to pretend, but in reality, it's kind of taking the easy way out in the moment. It's much easier to pretend to be someone really put together (like I did in the hair salon story in chapter 1) than to dig into our soul and face our own truth. That's hard. But you're right…in the end, our pretense always EXHAUSTS us. Some of us live our entire life acting like someone we are not. For many of us, it has become a way of life, almost. It's safe and familiar. It's comfortable. And opening our hearts up to something less familiar and comfortable just doesn't sound good to us. So we continue to go through the motions in life, denying the impact our pretense is having on us. We stay busy and keep going, just so we don't have to face the truth. But as I say in the first chapter of the book, The Truth Hurts, the truth may be initially hard to face, but it just may be the very best thing that has ever happened to us. In the end, the Truth ALWAYS heals.
Lisa — I love part three — the truth of who we really are. What is one truth of who we really are that many women have trouble accepting?
Oh, it's gotta be love. Unconditional love. Our society has so skewed what true love is, none of us are really sure we know anymore. We are constantly loving and being loved with conditions, so we don't know what it feels like to have someone say, “I don't care where you came from, what you've done, or how you act…I love you no matter what.” Even those of us who have been blessed with great marriages and supportive and loving families don't always feel unconditional love. We all crave it and would do anything to get it. And yet, all of our pretense won't ever get us the love or acceptance we crave. Because if our life is not built on truth, we will eventually crumble and crack.
We have to feel love at our very core, and that only comes from one source: Jesus Christ. To say we feel it is not enough. We have to truly feel it and know it in an intimate and genuine kind of way. When we do, pretending will no longer be an option. When we soak in the love of Jesus Christ, we become willing to be exposed before Him and others, knowing that we are not perfect or put together all the time, and we don't have to be. There is something very freeing about allowing Truth to guide us in our life. When truth guides our relationships (and not pretense), genuine friendships can occur…marriages can work…and there will no longer be value in keeping things hidden, anymore.
Freedom from pretense is a beautiful thing, Mary. It's something I pray for in every life of every woman out there, struggling to be real. It's what I desire for myself and continue to pray for in my own life. It's that important.
Thanks so much to Lisa Whittle! She just rocks! http://www.lisawhittle.com/
Like Lisa, I want so much to just be real — just me, no masks. I don't want to hide behind pretense or anything else. I just want people to accept me at face value, but I struggle. One last thing — Behind Those Eyes also has a Bible / book study in it. It's a wonderful resource and I'm hoping that we can do this study soon. I know that I'm not the only person who struggles with masks.
I'm echoing Lisa's prayer that each of us experiences a freedom from pretense. What a powerful force for the Lord we could be if all the masks came off!