Sociologist Robert Ezra Park said, “It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person, in its first meaning, is a mask. It is rather a recognition of the fact that everyone is always and everywhere, more or less consciously, playing a role.”
In my life, the mask that was my biggest temptation was spiritual superhero. My writing instructor Judy Hougen described it this way in her book Transformed into Fire:
“We’re all haunted by some image of the perfect Christian – the person who is rarely ruffled, full of right answers, and tirelessly ‘there’ for everyone. Such people glide through life with a two-inch gap between their feet and the ground. They pray for ten hours a day and can recite the New Testament over coffee. And, most important, they seem to have no needs, no obvious wounds or weakness. They’re always cheerful, never touched by depression, loneliness, or other heavy emotions.”
Nope. No way. Not anymore.
It has been in sharing my wounds and revealing my weaknesses that I have been the truest version of me— and in doing so, I welcome others exactly as they are. And even scripture says that it’s in our weaknesses that God’s power is made perfect. So, like the Apostle Paul, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses.
Someone made a joke a couple weeks ago about my halo. I was quick to correct him.
I have set down the halo (which was itself a mask) so that I could take up freedom.
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh | As the self-proclaimed biggest fan of Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn series, I was so, so, SO excited to read her next series. Flame in the Mist is a re-telling (of sorts) of Mulan: although this book is set in feudal Japan, not in China. Mariko is on her way to be married to one of the princes when her caravan is attacked. She ends up cutting her hair, dressing as a boy, and joining a group of outlaws, a la Robin Hood style.
This book was super interesting and very romantic. One of the things I liked best about it was that it was not immediately apparent to me who Mariko’s love interest would be. Indeed, she and that person had such a unique relationship that was so not stereotypically romantic that it made it all the more hot when they fell for each other. Very excited to see how this story ends. It’s a duology and the second book doesn’t even have a publication date listed yet. (Patience is not my strong suit.)
5 to 1 by Holly Bodger | This book was so unique! I purchased it after I was on a writers panel with the author, and when I finally had the chance to read it, I tore through it so fast! Set in the future in India, it takes India’s current issues with gender selection and female infanticide and reverses them: now that there are 5 boys to every 1 girl, society is run by women and men must compete to be worthy of marriage. The book is told in alternating chapters: poetry for the young bride watching the “Tests” and prose for Contestant 5, who is competing– but who does not want to win.
I enjoyed the story very much, and it definitely made me think!
The Art of Writing and the Gifts of Writers by C.S. Lewis | This was an audiobook collection of Lewis’s shorter essays and talks on writing, and it was super enjoyable! Ralph Cosham/Geoffrey Howard, the narrator, is the familiar voice from the audio versions of Lewis’s Space Trilogy, and so it’s easy to feel like you’re listening to Lewis himself. This was an intriguing and useful set of essays, advice, and criticism on various aspects of writing, including fairie stories, writing for children, and thoughts on his friend J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. If you’re a fan of Lewis (or any of the Inklings), this will be a fun and fast read for you!
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord | In this book, Lucy– at her mother’s request– agrees to spend the summer as a camp counselor for kids from at-risk backgrounds. This is a deviation from her usual: the Bible camp just across the lake, where her mom and dad will be. What makes it even harder is that Lucy’s mom’s cancer has just come back, which has shattered Lucy’s faith and has her living in fear.
There were so many things that felt SO familiar to me, who was a volunteer camp counselor (at a Bible camp, no less!). I really liked the ending, when ends (that I didn’t even know were loose!) started getting tied up. The ending is also abrupt, but in the best way.
Shrill by Lindy West | This book. This. Book. I loved it. So much. It spoke to me on so many levels– as a woman, as a curvy girl, as a feminist, as a writer. I laughed aloud. I cried real tears. I felt empowered.
I went to my therapist on Thursday, and– no joke– spent about 90% of the time talking about this book and how it impacted me, all the things I am learning.
Please. Read this. Then let’s get coffee to discuss.
Hi, I’m a 16 year old girl who has been suffering with HOCD for roughly 8 months now. I have come to the conclusion that the only way to overcome this is through therapy, but I’m scared to ask for help and recieve it. How do I ask my parents? I feel like if I sit them down to ask them for help, they will assume that I’m coming out or they’ll try to get too much information out of me. Help!
Hi friends, I thought I’d just ramble a little bit about life, if that’s cool.
Even if that’s not cool. 🙂
The summer has just been blazing by, which is so wild. Usually June is a quiet month in admissions at my university, but this June was the busiest I can remember in my fourteen years in this role! It’s fun– but also a little hard to not be able to catch my breath during a season I was expecting that opportunity!
I spent the 4th of July [extended] weekend working on the novel, and I polished up the first 10 chapters (approximately 75 pages) in a way I’m really proud of. Stay tuned to see if my editor agrees. There are a couple issues that I still need to figure out. Tomorrow I’m getting a massage, and I swear: I have some of my best ideas while lying on that table! Fingers crossed.
Online dating is maybe the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced, apart from writing a book, although in all completely different ways. This summer I keep switching my profiles “off”– on most sites, you can hide or suspend your profile– in order to recollect myself and get a little work done. I am talking to someone now who is sweet and fun and intentional … which means I am probably a week or two from screwing it up. #optimist
One thing I am trying to do this year is to be intentional about making sure my friends feel loved. I am trying to learn their love languages and care about them in the ways that they appreciate most (versus the way I feel most comfortable). This has actually been really, really fun and meaningful: sometimes it looks like coffee and conversation, sometimes coming up with the most perfect gift that will make them laugh, buying a gift card for grocery delivery, handwritten letters. Yesterday I got to have a video call with an overseas friend. I plan to continue this experiment/experience/intentionality throughout the year and hopefully next.
I’ve read some great books lately. I’ll post reviews soon.
Tell me about you. Please. Leave a comment about anything in the whole world.
Three years ago, I listed 20 life lessons I’d picked up since college, and you can read those here.
Here are a few more Life Lessons with Jackie Lea:
1. If you can afford to hire movers, do it. Your family and friends will be so grateful, and your stuff will be protected and insured in the move.
2. It’s okay to appreciate beautiful things you don’t understand, like abstract art and experimental poetry. You don’t have to understand something to know if it is lovely or makes you feel something.
3. Makeup primer is not a joke. If your face is melting off by noon, try this. (I swear by Urban Decay primer potion and setting spray.)
4. Asking for help makes you strong, not weak.
5. If you have a strong intuitive nature, don’t suppress it. Bringing up my thoughts and suppositions in a gentle, appropriate way has led to some of the best conversations I’ve had in the past few years.
6. Self care is so important, and it starts with getting enough sleep.
7. If you want someone to open up, tell your story first. This gives him or her a safety net.
8. It is perfectly acceptable to say “I have plans tonight,” even if those plans are with yourself, your pajamas, and Netflix.
9. Train yourself to be a better listener. Especially if, like me, you tend to talk a lot, tell stories, appreciate the spotlight. I have to repeatedly tell myself, “Tonight is about listening,” on my way to meet with a friend. Even then, I still struggle sometimes. But I do believe this is trainable behavior.
10. Keep your goals visible and flexible.
11. Sometimes taking an incredible selfie is the first step toward loving your body. Stage your own photo shoot. No one has to know how many shots it took to get that one.
12. Stop using the word “fat” and replace it with “curvy.” This was perhaps the most important thing I did in the journey to regain my self confidence.