I heard from one of my beta readers yesterday (yes, she’s even read the completed Perfect Glass . . . sorry) and her words reminded me of the days in 2010 when Henry was coming alive in my head and my heart. When I was building his character from the inside out and wondering about his purpose.
When Glass Girl was released and you began to find it through a process that still amazes me, you had reactions to Henry that were all over the board. You loved him because he was strong. And articulate. And not afraid of hard work.
You loved the way he spoke to Meg and the way he moved. You loved how he opened a door and offered a hand, both literally because he was gentleman, and metaphorically because he was generous with his faith.
I heard from hundreds of you who said he was your gold standard and you were happy waiting until he came along. And this made my heart soar—because I wanted you to see in Henry his solid goodness and his steadfast loyalty. And I wanted you to want that in your life. And to be content to wait on it.
And yet . . . and yet . . . I also wanted you to see that the most important thing about Henry was not “Henry.” The most important thing was that he said to Meg—as much as I love you, HE loves you more. He craves you more.
He wanted Meg to see that as counterintuitive as belief and trust and faith are (when life hurts), they still make more sense than anything else.
And MOST importantly, he wanted Meg to feel loved by God. He saw that she’d never considered it. He recognized a girl who felt like she’d been given a raw deal because she didn’t deserve anything better. Before he offered his heart to Meg, he offered HIS (God’s) heart to her.
The message Henry wanted to give Meg is this:
It wouldn’t be real love if there wasn’t the possibility for another response to him, right? If we couldn’t choose not to love him, then our love would be empty and unsatisfying. That’s why there’s evil in this world, because there’s free choice in this world. He allows the one to prove the other.” (Glass Girl, p. 104)
Here’s what got me all teary about hearing from my beta reader (who’s young, like you, and awesome, like you, and just trying to figure things out in her own way)—she has read Glass Girl four times and each time she’s taken something different from it. She read it again last month and came to the conclusion that she’d been wrong in waiting on a Henry to complete her. She’s already complete.
She’s already walking side by side with the one who stole her heart years ago. The one who couldn’t possibly love her anymore…all her pieces that shatter and come back together in the wrong ways and then shatter again. He loves those pieces. He’s patient while she makes patches. He’s looking at her with tender eyes. Henry will come later, when she’s ready. Jesus is here now.
Oh . . . I can’t say it any better than she did. So, here are excerpts from her email (used with permission)—
There was a time in my life when I would have given anything for my Henry to walk through the door. My goal was to be Meg, a girl with tangible tenderness, a girl who was endlessly loved, a girl with depth and wisdom earned by seeing life’s harsh realities. This was who I wanted to be. How could I be Meg without Henry?
So I waited. Sooner than I expected my Henry (or at least who I thought was my Henry) landed in my lap. Everything matched up. I thought I had gotten it right. A while into our relationship I noticed one big difference. He didn’t show me he loved God. He showed me that he liked me and even that he loved me but he never had that outward passion for his Maker. But he loved me.
Until I made one mistake. And then he showed me he could not forgive me. He never looked at me the same way again and that almost killed me. I found myself in a place I had not been in a long time. I fished for compliments, cratered into depression, and I became hard. Hard to him, hard to my friends, and hard to God. I had lost what was left of the tenderness I did not even know I had. I was broken.
At one time I lived with my emotions right beneath the surface. One tragic day when I felt they betrayed me, I buried them. I buried them out of fear that no one would accept me if they knew how fragile I really was. Burying my unknown tenderness and then destroying what was left of it a year later left me empty.
After my relationship ended I was left with an empty shell of me. I was not the me I had wanted to be. I was not Meg. I was not someone a man like Henry would want.
I lived my life until a perfect storm in the form of Glass Girl and Perfect Glass came into my life. I read Glass Girl for the fourth time and it broke my heart. It stirred that long buried, unknown tenderness within me. I cried from that place of clarity and cleansing. The tears brought me back to the tender, emotional me from years ago.
Maybe I had been more like Meg than I thought. I remembered when faith and joy had ruled my life. I wondered why I had ever let that go. It took me cratering into a depression to realize that my fragility makes me who I am. I am the best at being me when I strike that balance between being breakable and being unstoppable.
Perfect Glass showed me that I will never reach perfect. Motives are always crisscrossed between what we want and what God wants. My motives have been crisscrossed all along. I see that now. But, as in Perfect Glass, God guided me through my failures. He showed me the difference between me with Him and me without Him. He showed me that my personality had been shaped by that mysterious tenderness within me.
I have dealt with guilt and loss. I have been shaped by the curve balls like has thrown me. It took a tragedy, a relationship, a depression, and two incredible books for God to prove to me who I really am. I am Meg. I am tender. I am shaped by a life that was not always easy. And all I had to do was wait for my Henry.
But God found a way to prove even that logic wrong. Shortly after finishing Perfect Glass I read a blog post written about why I should not be waiting. Why I should not be working to prove to God that I am content enough with Him to be awarded my Henry as some kind of prize. I have already been awarded my Henry. He is my sweet Savior, the one who has been by my side all along. I don’t need to be waiting on my Henry to make me Meg. I already have the source of my joy and the partner for the rest of my life.
I am fragile. I am tender. I have dealt with life’s trials and learned from them. I see this world for the achingly beautiful place that it is. I am endlessly loved. I am complex. I am transparent. I am strong. I am glass.
I have been given a second chance and a Savior by my side.
I am Meg. And I am done waiting for my Henry.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. Song of Songs 2:7
I have a full heart today.
(Feature Image by Cary Anne Photography, 2012) Last week, I whispered a final goodnight to Meg and Henry when I released Perfect Glass to my agent. And, if you’re wondering, they’re good. So good. They said to tell you hello.
I know, I know, that book has been a promise and a dangling carrot for months, years, it seems. For you and for me. I wrote it, worked with an editor. Rewrote it. Got an agent and rewrote it again. But, as the famous saying goes, a book is not written, it is rewritten. And it is through the fire that it is forged and perfected. I will say more about this in a moment, but let me say now that Perfect Glass is quite a story.
I feel I owe you an explanation about its delay, and I’ll try to do that as far as I’m allowed. And, in fact, I should apologize for not being able to give you a release date for it yet.
It means that I was too timid to take the huge leap of trying to find an agent and sell my book to a large house. It means I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this world. It means my writerly ego is tiny. I wanted to dip a toe into the angry waters of publishing first. Westbow was a perfect fit for me because it allowed me to move at my own pace and have complete authorial say in what my words expressed and my tone evoked and my cover spoke.
It means I could say ‘baptism’ and you would know exactly where I was coming from. It means I could write about a typical, red-blooded rancher’s son who knew what he was about and spoke openly about his faith while also admitting Meg was a big temptation for him. It means I could put Meg in situations that reflected a reality while allowing her to simply observe and learn. She could be me. She could be you. We could figure it out together. And, we did.
Here’s the beautiful part—you. You are the beautiful part. You got it. You understood Meg’s tenderness. You fell in love with the way Henry looked at her. You cried with me and wrote me and told your friends and the book sold and sold. And you forgave me what I did wrong and supported me where I did right. I will love you until the day I leave this earth for these things you did for me.
One of the best things you did for me was you bought the book in numbers great enough to make me interesting to an agent. A super agent—Amanda Luedeke with the MacGregor Literary Agency. Amanda is one of those young, up-and-coming types who loves YA like you do. And she believes in my ability to turn phrases and create moments. I like her. I think you would, too. And Amanda is going to bat for me right now, working hard to get Glass Girl into a publishing house where it will attract more readers and speak to more teens who are just trying to live meaningful lives full of heart.
This, as I’m learning, takes time. A lot of time. Maybe more than a year. Who knows? But, if Amanda is successful at getting a house to buy Glass Girl, she would follow it up with Perfect Glass. If not, I promise, I will make Perfect Glass available in the same way Glass Girl is currently available. Fingers crossed, please, that things don’t take long.
Now, more on why I love Perfect Glass. This book continues the love affair between Henry and Meg, but it, like life, throws some curve balls. Like long distance. Like other people who are mightily attractive. Like heartbreak in Nicaragua and in Chapin. Like a curmudgeonly old woman who has deep things to teach Meg. Like a former gang member who has the power to break Henry. And throughout the story, Henry keeps saying to Meg—“Yes. Still yes. Always yes.”
I can’t wait for you to read it.
And now, this week, I awakened another book. I love it already. It’s a story about place as identity. It’s about hating where you came from for some surprising reasons. It’s about believing the lie that you’re better than some place and allowing that belief to make you miss out on a whole ton of beauty. It’s about the regret implicit in missing out. It’s about coming home and being okay with that. That’s all I can say because my Muse is giving me the gimlet eye from the chair across the way.
In the meantime, I’m also hanging around Nicole O’Dell’s Choose Now Ministry a lot. You’ll find me there and on the radio every month talking about the morality of celebrities (Laura Kurk | On Hollywood). I’m finding it interesting work. And challenging.
I also work with a teen writers’ critique group through a great organization called NextGen Writers. There’ll be a virtual conference this August and I’m a virtual presenter. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what that means. Please, check it out and register. I’ll look forward to virtually seeing you there.
And one of my best things is I get to go to the Oregon coast this summer and hang out on a cliff over the Pacific for a while. I’m dreaming of it already. I’ll post a lot of pictures of the four of us windblown and salty.
My wish for you is a perfect, relaxing, no-strings kind of summer. Let yourself be bored and recognize the value in it. Let your mind wander. Smile and laugh a lot. And wear cut-off jeans and cheap sunglasses. And smell like cocoa butter. And by all means, listen to good music loudly. And read. Oh, my gosh. Read. You know. Summer stuff.
The college student who posed as Meg for the front cover of Glass Girl has a lot more going on than traffic-stopping beauty. Allie is a senior at Texas A&M University, majoring in education, and one of the sweetest girls you could ever meet. She’s a Christian who made the decision long ago to hang onto her high morals and she’s brave enough to be different.
I’ve known her since she was nine when she had knees that were constantly torn up from riding bikes, playing sports, and acting silly. She’s always done her best to keep me in the know. When I stand close to her, I might be cool by association.
Here are some specific ways Allie keeps me from embarrassing myself: She’ll be honest if I’m wearing something that won’t work. She reminds me I don’t have to yell when I use Bluetooth in my car. She goes to weird movies with me so I won’t have to go alone and look like a loser. She shares my love for Mexican food and live music.
A brief Q and A with Allie:
Thanks Allie!Read More