Monday, June 30, 2008

Behind Those Eyes

You may have noticed a new title in my "Books Beside my Bed" sidebar lately. A few weeks ago the author of today's P31 devotion "Secret Places" sent me a copy of her latest book Behind Those Eyes: What's Really Going on Inside the Souls of Women - and I'm loving it! Lisa Whittle talks about the different ways that women cover over their insecurities and heart aches ... like hiding it with fake smiles, or fashionable clothes, or an air of manufactured confidence, or even our spiritually. I know you will see yourself somewhere in this book.

Lisa calls us to take off our masks, insisting that we are all "perfectly imperfect," and come into the light of community. My own pastor sometimes says it this way, "Everybody's crazy, so let's just start from that and skip all the pretending." I think the best part of her new book is that Lisa ends with a call for authenticity and section that shows us who we really are in Christ. And she includes a short study section at the back. So if you struggle with insecurity, jealousy, loneliness or fear (and who doesn't to some degree - I sure do), then this woman is writing to you.

God knows, our souls long to know and live in truth, and stop trading in images and charades. In fact, Lisa opens the book with this scripture from the Message:

"What you're after is truth from the inside out." ~ Psalm 51:6

Pop over and meet this author today on her blog if you want, she's got some probing posts there. And if you're willing to "get real" a minute with me here on my blog, I'd love to hear what you struggle with the most ... insecurity? ... unforgiveness? ... perfectionism? ... jealousy? ... loneliness?

29 comments:

  1. I struggle with insecurity a lot. No one would beleive it. In fact, when I have gotten the courage to tell my friends they just laughed and said "ya right". I am one of those bubbly, funny comment, always smilin' girls. It makes it so much easier than letting people see that I don't trust that people like me.

    One example is that I am always the person that does the inviting. Wanna go to dinner or a movie or on a double date with another couple? I have to ask. No one ever asks us to do anything. Most of the time we get a yes to our invite, but it just makes me feel like they don't think I am worth the thought or effort.

    I feel like I am being self-focused and whiny but that is what I struggle with.

    I know I need to find my worth in God, but as I posted on another person's blog recently, I have a parent view of God. He has to love me, people here don't. I know God loves me just like I love my kids. I don't know why I feel like I need to fit in our have the approval of others. It is only with other women. I know my husband loves me and I have never questioned it. Some days I question his sanity because he does, but never him. Even the male half of the couples at church I don't question, just the women.

    So, ya, I really struggle with insecurity.

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  2. Rachel and Seesawfaith,
    That is me! But instead of hiding under a mask of confidence I hide behind a mask of insecurity. I hide behide my disability when I am scared. I hide behind an open spoken banner of "I don't trust people." God has delt with me strongly over the past year and a half about my hiding. First, and I haven't shared this much so bear with me. At last years She Speaks conference when Zoe Elmore put those Hot Pink Pumps I had always dreamed of wearing in heaven on my feet, I did not have the reaction I expected or wanted. I was not shy. I was not nervous about all the attention. I was angry! I actually wanted to fight and scream and throw the shoes and anyone around me away from me! I knew that God was giving me a gift and blessing everyone involved not just me, but I was so angry. I was laughing nervously and I may even have played up my disability a little to try to get out of standing in those shoes. I'm not real sure about that one. I do know I was MAD!!! Later that night as Lysa had asked us to lay at the cross whatever was hindering us from being willing to turn control of our ministries fully over to God, He spoke to my heart. I had been asking Him why had I felt that way, and after wrestling with Him and telling Him "no!" several times I surrendered and wrote "I am willing to be helpless." He took it a little further and told me to embrace my helpessness. He was helpless in the manger, He was helpless at the cross and Him the creator of everything willingly made himself helpless everytime He walked this earth and even thirst. Without being willing to be helpless I would never truly know this part of Him. This thinking has changed me! I have learned that I am both afraid and ashamed of some of the very blessings God has given me. So rather than be truly vulnerable and risk someone commenting on me in a positive or negative way, (I actually dislike compliments as much as criticism) I hide and just do things "good". Sometimes I hide behide a false insecurity that people expect us with disabilities to have, and other times I just plain don't let go and give it all I've got! Seesaw, I feel you girl! I too do all the inviting. I too belive that God is truly the only one who can love me so I too don't risk being real even with my husband at times or my closest friends. I find myself apologizing for taking up their time, with my mear existance. THis is WRONG!
    It is God's blessing and gifts not mine to hide! If God wants to bless someone by using me, Who do I think I am telling Him NO!
    I have an above average IQ, I am creative and funny. I have a gift for teaching and drama! Yet even my own extended family or home church family does not know this!!!!! Pray for me as I continue to learn how to be copmpletely authentic and real. Also as I continue to be helpless before God and not fight Him anymore but say "Yes Lord, Whatever you ask may it be in my life!"
    Pamela R.

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  3. Rachel,
    Your endorsement of Behind Those Eyes blesses me so much. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this blog.

    I would love for pinkshoelady to email me at info@lisawhittle.com when she has a chance. I tried to find her through her name link, but I didn't get anywhere. So, pinkshoelady, if you are reading this, please email me. I want to speak to your comment via email, if you would let me.

    Rachel, I hear these women and understand. This dialouge about getting real honors God in a big way! It is what He desires from all of us.

    On the journey with you!
    Lisa :)

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  4. SeaSaw - thanks for opening with such honesty. I think you/I don't tend to question male's sincerity as much because they don't tend to put the same level of effort into wearing masks and appearing sincere even though they aren’t, as many women tend to do. We know that we often masquerade - and we assume that other women do to - so we have trouble trusting women.

    The question at the core of all this for me is: Am I willing to be disliked by others in order to be real before God?

    Pamela (aka Pinkshoelady)- I love what you've confessed here. And I've prayed for you today. It's evident to me that God refuses to relent His purposes for your life. He is intent on shattering our masks and drawing us into truth, authenticity, and surrendered/"helpless" service. Look, He seems to have Zoe and me continually plastering your story and picture all over national magazines and blogs! Are we driving you mad again? Embrace it my friend, and watch what God does in response.

    And by the way, girls, I am not an inviter like you two are. All my friends throw dinner parties and I attend but never reciprocate. It’s a wonder they continue inviting me! My friend Kati plans all our girlfriend get togethers - I'm so grateful for her. It's not that I don't want to get together with others, it’s just that I don't have the gift of hospitality that prompts me to plan it. And I often feel too busy to plan another thing into my schedule. But then when they invite me to come out and play, I'm always so thankful they did. So don't assume your friends dislike like hanging with you because they never make the invitation - maybe they're just lame about that like I am!

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  5. Wow. I thought seesawfaith got into my head. I am always the one to email a friend whom I've not seen just to say hi and I'm thinking of you. I'm the one to ask if she is avaiable for lunch. I'm the one to say I want to visit with you. When can we get together.

    So, I TOTALLY feel your pain seesawfaith.

    I would say at this stage in my life I suffer from loneliness. Partly because of the above...having to take the initiative. And mostly because since my husband left last June (unbiblical divorce in Nov. 07) I feel even more lonely (and abandon) becauset those friends especially have not been reaching out to me. I think in the most horrific time of my life that they support me very well for about six months. It's much like the emotions a person suffers when a spouse dies. Everyone gives them attention and care for six months and then they go on with their life so the spouse is suppose to. Not having my best friend, my husband, my soul mate, makes life so unbearable at times. It is extremely, extremely loney. When a married person has trouble with co-workers, friends, woahs of life, they run to their spouse. When I have unactive friends in my life, I have no one to run to...no husband and no friends really and truly. So, for now, it's dire loneliness. I do have outstanding and wonderful friends online since my experience in blogland starting in April.

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  6. Thank you ladies for putting in to words what I have been feeling. I grow up with my father telling me I am supid so after awhile it will sink in. With that in my head it is hard for me to think why would anyone like me if I am supid. It has also stopped me from doing the things I would like to try. I am relying on God more and have come out of this some what but it is nice to know that I am not the only one out there dealing with these things. Thank you Lord for the She Speaks Women!
    Sandy

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  7. Hey Rachel and ladies,
    I plan to respond later but I need yall to be praying for my nephew, Taylor Meyers. He works on an oil rig in Texas and got his hand mashed really bad. They've done surgery on his fingers trying to save them and today he had to go back to the dr and he still has circulation in the finger tips. That's a great improvement. But please pray for him. He will be able to come back home to Louisiana tomorrow. Please pray for him and his parents traveling safety.
    Thanks,
    Sharron in Louisiana

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  8. Thanks for sharing about your best moment from SheSpeaks 2008...what a remarkable moment it was. After reading it and other posts about SheSpeaks, I guess I have to say that my struggle right now is with a bit of jealousy because I didn't get to go this year! I attended the speakers' track last year and it completely changed the course of my ministry. It was incredible how much I learned and grew in one short weekend. And by changing the course of my ministry, God prepared me for the struggles I would face during the year since, first with thyroid surgery and then learning I have MS, which is what prohibited me from attending this summer. By the time it looked like I would be well enough to go it was already full. :(
    Like Wendy, I have turned to blogging, which I learned about at SheSpeaks. It has helped me to sort through my thoughts, to better see God at work in my life, and to share the great things he has done. God is helping me write my story, of which he is the author, and I have been so humbled and honored. I pray that next year he will make a way for me to return to SheSpeaks!

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  9. I too am similar to seesawfaith. I struggle with folks finding out that I really am a child of God, not this or that just a child of God reaching out. I am not pretentious just want to be genuinely seen and treated for who I am. God has given me several wonderful gifts to share and use for his purpose. The gifts draw folks to my gifts not necessarily me. And it is okay but sometimes I would just like to be appreciated for me.

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  10. Hi Rachel,

    Yep I have to say i have some struggle with insecurity. I feel like I can relate with the first lady, I am always wondering if people like me or are they just acting that way. But then I have had some do things that really show how much they like me, and I have been working really hard to change myself. Example for me was at church I would cook full course meals and I think the perfectionists also comes in here, but I would cook for everyone at church, I think I felt like I had to win them over, then oneday I was like what are doing, and so slowly I stopped doing that and everyone was still the same.
    But I have had a major challenge here, I am going to a Spanish Church, and I'm english, I know no spanish (hahaha) well maybe a couple of words but not enough to hold a conversation with anyone. But it did make it easier for me to join in with everyone. Now our church is bilingual, the pastor realized that alot of the church didn't understand the spanish, mostly the kids, so we have an interperter, and we alternate english and spanish, with interpation every week, works out great and everyone likes it alot.

    Sooo yes i can relate.. but the Lord has worked on me and I have changed so much, but I still feel like I have along way to go.
    It almost sounds like my self and maybe someone else that relates we are still having a FEAR thing going on as well. Chosenone said it right, like me for me!

    another great post Rachel, Thank You, You got me thinking and looking at myself again.
    Blessings to you all
    Sharon
    hahaha I hope I made since, I have alittle head cold going on. haha

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  11. AnonymousJune 30, 2008

    Ever since I started my renewed spiritual journey, I have discovered so many things about myself...many of them that I strongly dislike! I feel like the closer I get with the Lord, the more I realize I have to work on...for those of you who have been down this road before, is this a normal feeling?? I feel like I am struggling to find my peaceful place because I'm so consumed with "fixing" what's wrong. I struggle with impatience, insecurity & being judgemental at times. I feel like I have a looooooong road ahead of me...but at least I'm on the right track now, right?

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  12. I may write more later but just to jot a few things now: I am overcoming fear, insecurity and people pleasing. I always thought people were lying when they said I was pretty. I always thought that because people didn't ask me to do things that I was like this nerd no one wanted around. I also get that response of "Not You" when I say I battle insecurities. I'm a lot better now but it has been journey of trusting God and I'm sure that I will need to always be mindful that I don't let it overtake me again. I have to check my spirit often when doing things for others because I am a giver that I am giving to give and not just to be a people pleaser, and the biggie, I had to learn to say No.. Yikes. Well I am still a work in progress. I may not be where I need to be but thank God I'm not where I used to be.

    Lynn

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  13. I think I struggle most with being a control freak!!!I also struggle with wanting to do too much. I struggle with saying no to people. I am a perfectionist, and I have recently learned that I am also a people pleaser. I always thought I had a really great self-esteem. I grew up in a pastors' home. My parents are AWESOME! They have set such a great example of what it is to be a disciple of Christ. I never really thought what people thought of me affected me too much. Over the last couple years I have beocme a nervous wreck trying to please everyone and trying to be liked by everyone!!! It's exhausting!!!
    I am currently being DELIVERED into FREEDOM! My husband and I are the youth leaders at our church and just attended a mission trip where God met me in a beautiful way, and I have learned that I only need to please an audience of ONE. THE ONE!!! And He has CALLED me! He will use my imperfections and my obedience. And He will protect me from my enemies. Honestly, it is such a freeing experience.

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  14. quietspiritJuly 01, 2008

    Thank you Rachel, for helping me to understand why some people tend to initiate invitations and others do not. I am aware that I have the gift of hospitality but I never thought that I was "applying it" to casual invitations to friends for lunch or coffee. I tended to recognize using it when "bigger get- togethers" were needed, things through church, or events that may be held at our house. This helps me to better understand my friends. Even though my invitations usually were accepted, I still struggled with feelings of not personally having much value in their lives.

    I love your Bible Study on women of the bible. I have been doing it and have learned a great deal. I feel alot of camaraderie with the women here even though I have never posted before! I am new to this blogger world.

    Blessings to all,
    Penny

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  15. I struggle with self-sufficiency. I rely on myself way too much and don't give it over to God. I am competetive in the work place and judgemental. I have been working on this with God for the last 7 years and it is changing me a lot.

    In January, I changed jobs. I went from a big biotech company to a little one. The pace is much easier here and they really need me, but mostly I found I have a lot of free time and I spend it studying with and about God. I found Rachel's blog at about the same time and the work I have been doing here and the conversations I have shared with the women here have humbled me. I have shed tears here, I have asked questions, I have heard God.

    I had a conversation with God early in the year about my family. My family really broke two years ago when my husband (step-father to my daughters) and my youngest daughter had a huge fight which was the last in a string of building issues. She ran away. She lives with her father now and is in college. My husband and daughter don't speak. They don't even want to be in the same house together. I prayed continually for forgiveness, for love, for peace, for mending the broken. I lay my struggles at the cross and then took them back right away with worry. God spoke to me one night. He said "Let go Karen, trust in me completely. I love Maija and I love Bob. They are not lost to me. You have turned them over to me and I have them. This is about faith, your faith," and then I went to sleep. I am leaning on God now. I pray with confidence that He has a plan, a plan to prosper and not to harm; and plan to bring hope and a future. I also don't pray everyday about my situation at home. I have peace about it. I know He is working a great work in my family and I am leaving it to Him.

    At work, I am less competitive. I have been convicted of the power of words recently and I am praying every morning to have my mouth filled with His words, and to speak words that encourage and build up, not tear down. I am learning that watching and helping others succeed brings me great satisfaction and I think I am pleasing God with my kinder attitude.

    This is by no means a done deal; I am still a huge work in progress and I am working on having the faith the size of a mustard seed.... Thanks Lisa and Rachel for this question and for this study.

    Blessings to you all,

    Karen - CA

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  16. Hey,

    Just checking to see if i can post.

    Thanks,
    Pamela

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  17. ising4himJuly 01, 2008

    Like 'tate', I'm a bit of a control freak, but not in the way most people are. You see, I'm a quadriplegic. I need help getting in and out of bed, to get dressed and undressed. To be quite candid, I don't even have control of basic bodily functions. So what is it I control? My emotions. They're the only things I can control. If I'm upset, but don't want to show it, I just keep it all inside. When I feel like crying (and I am a 'cryer'!), I'll just as soon hold back the tears than to let someone see me cry...unless I feel like it. I can hold a grudge better than anyone. And when I'm really needing a friend, I'll retreat into my own little world and keep to myself...all because I can. It's even spilled over into my relationship with the Lord. When I pray, I'll only express certain things and keep the rest to myself (as if He didn't already know what I'm going through or thinking). It took me years to realize what I was doing that now it's such a part of me, and I don't know how else to be. I know God's been dealing with me about this, especially when it comes to reaching out to others and when I spend time with Him. It just seems like it's going to take a while before I can really be myself in front of others and before the Lord. To be honest, I still can't believe I'm even typing this out with the actual intention of posting. But I actually get a little jealous when I read all your posts and how open you all are with each other. So when I read Rachel's post, I knew it was the Lord. There's so much more that I can write, but my thoughts are going by way faster than my crooked little fingers can ever type. (You can laugh; it's just my warped sense of humor. :P)I've just been so blessed reading everyone else's posts and I feel a real bond with you all, even if you rarely hear from me.
    Thank you, Rachel for this study. To say that you're a blessing is an understatement. As for the rest of you, my sisters, I'm praying for you all. God bless.

    (I think this makes up for all the times I didn't post anything. LOL)

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  18. So I randomly found this blog today through the P31 daily devotions. I must say this is something God has been throwing at me from every direction lately. I know I'm a control freak and want everything fixed right now. But God is showing me that I'm not superwoman. And because I fail, I'm not a failure. I'm learning it's ok to not be perfect and also that transperancy and realness are things that I need in my life. I know right now I am in the fire, but super excited about it because it means I'm going to be even better in the end. There is such freedom in all of that. Even though when I stop and look at all the things God is working on and changing in me I get a little overwhelmed, He reminds me that I'm not superwoman and you have to eat an elephant one bite at a time. It really is a good thing that God is in control and not me. Wow!

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  19. ising4him, thank you for sharing your thoughts and your struggles. You are an amazing woman, so filled with His love and His blessing. I pray that He will comfort you, bind up your heart and show you your worth to others, so that your light may shine brightly.

    Your sister in Christ,

    Karen

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  20. AnonymousJuly 02, 2008

    I have had so much insecurity in my life, within myself and with my relationship with God. Many steps gained though.

    Right now I'm so dissapointed because I don't know if my prayers have meant anything. Right now, they don't seem to have any effect. I am stuck as to what to pray. We have had so many troubles with my step-children's mom, with her interference when the kids come to visit us (which is about twice a year). She is someone who white-lies, plain out lies for "the good", manipulates and controls, all in the name of Jesus. When there is freedom gained in our home with the kids, something else happens to take it away. My husband's children seem to believe what their mom says, but when they "let go" and start to believe that maybe God is "good" with their stay here, they(we)have so much fun. Now something has happened again where there are the constant telephone calls, and it feels like we're back to square one. I'm so discouraged. I have claimed God's authority over our home and over all of us, so why does their mom have so much control over us? I have prayed so much! This is my home, not hers! These are my husbands kids, and all he wants is a good relationship with them. I keep checking my heart, forgiving where I need to. Why doesn't God step in?

    I'm a regular in this study, but today I need to sign anonymous. It's the only way to get my feeling out, in case the kid's mom happens to read this.

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  21. Anonymous,
    I read your e-mail and immediatly had to stop and pray for you. I have a freind in a similar situation at my church. God is still in control. 1 Corithians 10:13 says "THere is no temptation but such as common to man, but God if faithful and will not let you be tempted above what ye are able but will with the temptation also make a way of escape so that you may be willing to bear it." The word temptation in the Greek (My husband and I both have our MDiv degrees from seminary) can also mean situation. This verse has helped me my whole life! I can remember my mother crying with and for me as she said "I don't know why God makes everything so hard on you." THis verse tells me that God is faithful and will not allow me in any situation that I can not with His power bear. Not that He will take it away but I will be able to BEAR it! He is there my friend I know because He promises He will NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU. He is also the God of these Children. He loves them more than you and knows exactly how to reach and bring them into His loving and perfect will. Read Jerimiah 33:2-3 Because He created us He is the God of answers all we need to do is ask. Pray and ask Him what is the right question you need to ask now in this situation then trust you will be given the answer so that you can bear it!
    I am praying for you today.

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  22. AnonymousJuly 02, 2008

    Rachel,
    Behind These eyes of mine is shame and insecurity.

    I was abused by my dad while growing up, plus in resent year have come to find out he also assulted two of my sister-in-laws.

    A secert that I thought only effected me has now involved several others.

    My husband has differnt feelings about church now and God and the people who go to church. I was raised in church and the news of my dad hit hard for he was a decon in the church I grew up in. It makes it hard for my husband and I to talk about church or God.

    I so want to show my faith and love for God to others. I just feel so ashamed of my past and family. Please pray for me as I work on becoming the woman God intended me to be without shame.

    I have never posted befor till now but I have been following long with the study on "Woman In the Bible. Thank you for all you work to keep this study going.

    Today I'm posting as anonymons but with time will give my name.

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  23. ising4himJuly 02, 2008

    Thank you, Karen. That really means a lot. I will be praying for your family as well. God bless you all.

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  24. To Anonymous who was abused.
    What happened to you is not your fault and what happened to the others in your family is not their fault. Don't beat yourself up because of something you had no control over. Your dad will have to answer to God for what he did, not you. You are God's child and He has taken care of you. Telling it has be be a release. Remember Jesus said to bring our burdens to Him and He would take care of them.
    May God bless you and may you feel freedom from the past. God does not hold you accountable for what was done to you.

    My dad verbally abused my mother and many years after I was married and had children a Christian Psychologist made me realize that because I heard some of the things my dad said to my mother as I was growing up I was also verablly abused, but I forgave him for that, not to his face but in my heart. He was not an easy person to talk to but God showed me 3 times that my dad had make things right with Jesus before he died.

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  25. To Anonymous who was abused.
    What happened to you is not your fault and what happened to the others in your family is not their fault. Don't beat yourself up because of something you had no control over. Your dad will have to answer to God for what he did, not you. You are God's child and He has taken care of you. Telling it has be be a release. Remember Jesus said to bring our burdens to Him and He would take care of them.
    May God bless you and may you feel freedom from the past. God does not hold you accountable for what was done to you.

    My dad verbally abused my mother and many years after I was married and had children a Christian Psychologist made me realize that because I heard some of the things my dad said to my mother as I was growing up I was also verablly abused, but I forgave him for that, not to his face but in my heart. He was not an easy person to talk to but God showed me 3 times that my dad had make things right with Jesus before he died.

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  26. I struggle most with being able to stand up for myself. Because of this, I am finding myself again in an emotionally abusive marriage. I really can't understand what it is about me that attracts abusive man, but I've never know a truly God honoring marriage.

    I also struggle with wanting approval from everyone. If you don't like me, it challenges me to work extra hard to "make" you like me.

    I've decided that the song, "He's still working on me" is my theme song.

    Blessings to all my sisters!

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  27. AnonymousJuly 05, 2008

    To Pinkshoelady,

    Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement for my situation with my stepkids mom. I felt like God promted me to share, and I felt relief when I did. Even after I wrote, I was tempted to wallow in despair, but I felt like I needed to rise above the situation. Surprisingly, it's been much better since. I feel like God has come through, and will continue to come through as other situations arise.
    Your statement, "God is still in control" ministeres to me as I have often felt that He wasn't. Also the verse 1 Cor.10:13 with the interchangeable words temptation/situation.
    I printed your comments as a reminder to me that God is in control and to encourage me lest I forget!
    Blessings!

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  28. Behind these eyes are my lack of self worth. I grew up with a father who didn't care if he saw me or not,so I grew up thinking that if my own father didn't want me how could anyone else. My mother who was a great mom, married a not so nice man, who like to beat her up and got a hold of me only onced. That was all it took for my mother to knock the tar out of him and leave him. So then I when I met my husband, I used to think that if my daddy didn't want me, why would he, and I would dare him to hit me, cause I thought that's what men did. I remember one time he grabbed me and tears running down his face, he told me he would never hit me and he was never going to leave me. Weve been married for 34 yrs and I thank God for him each day. But I still feel like I'm not good enough, pretty enough, small enough,smart enough, etc.... I know I'm a child of God and He doesn't make any garbage, so why can't I shake this demon?
    I want to thank every one of you ladies for taking off our masks. Sometime's it's so hard to do, because you don't know how people will react. We all try to cover up our impefection's and God want's to use us the way we are.
    Tommie In Kentucky

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  29. Hi Rachel, Wow it sounds a great book to read. I work with alot of women through support groups, workshops, and alot them are in Rehabs for various addictions, abuse, some are on the streets, etc. But they too tell me how they try to mask alot of what they have been through with drugs, alcohol, and in many other ways. The two I found in commom were insecurities, amd trust issues, and believing they are not worth much in society. Thanks for this post and for refering this book, maybe I can get our nonproft to purchase these books for the ladies and we can have a discussion about it in our groups.


    Blessings Lorie

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