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 courtesy of CaryAnne Photography)
Yesterday, my daughter and I had a conversation about the minefield of middle school and how the girls who’d seemed unique and awesome in lower grades suddenly looked like copies of one another. One day–cool, relaxed and confident. The next day–clingy, rubber stamped robots. I told her the same thing happened when I was in middle school and when her grandmother was in middle school. It’s just that weird middle school thing that happens.
The conversation came about because my daughter had talked to a girl in the hall that morning while they were waiting for the bell to ring. This was a girl she had never talked to before. They moved in different circles, respectfully distant.
The girl said, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to tell you that I like your style. Most people here are too afraid to be different but you aren’t and I really respect that.” That was it….the whole conversation. I think my daughter swallowed her tongue and then went on with her day in her cool, vintage way. But the girl’s words stuck with her. And they emboldened her and went a long way toward making her feel more confident.
It got me thinking, again, about the power of words. And the power YOU hold when you reach across the chasms you think are between you and the other girls at school. I want you to try to encourage one girl at school on Monday, October 1.
Spend the weekend thinking about who needs words from you. Who is out there, trying to do her own thing, and thinking no one notices her? I know that applies to you–you think no one notices you. But watch what happens when you toss a pebble in this middle school pond and compliment someone who needs it. The ripple effect is a beautiful thing, girls. And soon you’ll see those little waves coming back to you.
You’ve heard me talk about “art bombing” a bit. Well, now we’re going to “compliment bomb.” It’ll be fun, trust me. And don’t forget to come back here and tell us what you did, said, and saw. We’re all in this together, learning how to feel our way toward comfort.
Here’s something, too, that makes me smile. Even the “Indie” girls admit that they’re just another fashion trend. There’s a Wiki on How to Be Indie. (You can take the “How Indie Are You” quiz here if you’re interested.) I think it’s okay, though, because what’s cool about “Indie” is the attitude of acceptance they have for others.
Once you realize everyone is trying hard to be noticed and accepted, your viewpoint changes and you’re suddenly more approachable and accessible. Your heart is open to people.
There’s nothing cooler than that. Trust me.
Man, I’ve missed you guys. We’ve had a tough few months at our house. We lost my brother’s wife (she was so young and we miss her terribly) and now we’re fighting alongside my mother who’s facing down an illness. She’s strong and fierce and we’re learning how to live just by watching her.
These valleys in life have made me unable to reach out to you through this blog and I apologize. I’ll do better. Promise.
School in Texas starts in two weeks. Two. Weeks. My little ones will pack their new backpacks and their lunch boxes that don’t stink yet and head out on August 22. I’ve started worrying already. It’s one hundred degrees in the shade right now at 7:30 in the evening! What if the air conditioners break and my babies sweat? What if none of their friends are in their classes? My kids are worried about teachers, clothes, orchestra, and tests. I worry that they worry too much. We’re all staying up too late and sleeping too late and I worry that the first day’s alarm clock buzz will fail to wake us from our summer stupor. Maybe we need to have a few dry runs between now and then.
I guess what worries me most is that we come from a long line of worriers. I’d hoped my kids would run energetically into new school years, laughing and carefree. Bold in the face of the unknown. Instead, they, like me years ago, stew and ruminate and have stomachaches. So unfair.
Before school starts, we talk a lot at our house about drawing on the strength God gives us. As small as we feel walking through those doors and down those halls, looking for friends and lockers and desks, we are great in Him. We say this verse a lot:
You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.” Psalm 71:21 ESV
And we talk about giftedness. We describe personality types and point out the ways each one is strong and gifted. Those extroverts—they bring the joy to the room. They make us all feel welcome. The introverts—they understand us. They know us. They quietly support us. It takes all kinds in this world and I hope my kids get that.
I’m choosing to look at the positive side to our personality. I’m a writer because I ruminate. I understand people and characters because I hang back and observe. No, I was never the life of the party; in fact, I don’t remember ever going to the party. What party? But I could imagine the party and create the subtext of the party. I could write the dialogue of the guys that were invited.
And I’m happy to tell you what my kids did this summer—Anderson, my eight-year-old, wrote 62 interrelated comic books. He created thirty characters who mingle and mix and get into trouble within the pages of his expertly illustrated books. Cool. And Amelia, my twelve-year-old, started her first novel about a science experiment in the 1940s that went horribly wrong and messed up the lives and memories of several people. Also cool.
My wish for all my readers out there is that you’re free to run into this school year with courage. That you look for value in the kids around the edges. That you celebrate the beauty in every personality. And that your walk is comfortable and good.