07 December 2009

You See, I Read This Book...

Oh my word. Wow. That's all I can say. I finished reading this book last night that shook me. It rocked my world in such a way that I can never go back to who I was before. Though it's about to be placed on the shelf, it goes with me today. Perhaps every day.

You see, this book made me remember.

A few years ago, I acted in a... trail... of some sort. It was a room called the "No Hope" room. The characters inside depicted various people in the throes of desperation and hopelessness: homeless and begging for money, addicted to drugs, abusive relationships, cutting, etc. My character was "low self esteem girl". They put me in front of a mirror with some make up and a candle. The room was hot and putrid, the air tasted like rotten trash. It was dark, loud, full of weeping and screaming as we all went into character. Angry music blared from the speakers. In every way, it was uncomfortable.

I settled into character, begging God to give me the strength to go all out for this persona. My hair was mussed out of its normal style and my face made up with dark shadows and messy mascara. I grabbed the tube of lipstick and wrote on the mirror. Over my image the blood-red "UGLY" judged my reflection.

I guess I should stop right now and say that there was a point to this room. We see people like this every day. Maybe we don't know who they are because they aren't physically screaming in our faces, but they are right in front of us. Or maybe we do, but we're so uncomfortable that we don't know what to do. Maybe that person is--or was at some point--us. Maybe we understand exactly where they are and haven't dealt with it yet. Or maybe we just need our hearts broken with compassion.

As people walked into the room and watched us locked in heartwrenching pain, they froze, unsure of what to do. It was too much sensory detail to take in at once, too much horror. I kept acting, staring into that mirror and weeping as my character demanded. I was so caught up in that I didn't see or hear anything else in the room.

Out of the darkness, a hand touched my back. Someone knelt beside me and smeared the "name" on the mirror. So lost in character, I panicked. Screaming "NO!!!" I lunged for the lipstick and tried to rewrite it. She fought me until the lipstick broke and just held me. I kept acting, praying inwardly to see what she would do. And she started praying--loudly--for her friends that she knew who struggled with this. She prayed for people whose names she didn't know. She even prayed for me.

After it was all over I saw something. When my character panicked and fought to rewrite that horrible word on the mirror, even I was surprised. I expected relief. God, where did that reaction come from? I asked him. Mentally, I replayed the scene over and over, each time feeling my heart jump, afraid, when she smeared the word. Then I felt something else: loss. When the girl erased the word, she took my character's identity. "She" didn't know who she was after that.

Then I saw a new name on the mirror: "Beauty".

The moment stunned me, much like now, when writing a character's story and seeing how God works in that person's life. Suddenly, I had to know. God, what name has been written on my mirror? And what is your name for me?

The answer to that, is between me and God. He gave me a new name that day. And with that name came a calling. It's the reason I'm in missions. I'm not called to a certain people group. My people are broken. They are in every land, every nation, in the church and not. They are in Hollywood, on Capitol Hill, and elementary schools. They need Jesus to come and heal them in some way, whether that be physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, etc. This is my calling. It is also why I write. I was a writer before that day. I finished my fourth novel not long after it, actually. But it was the first time I was able to put into words the ministry writing is to me.

This book brought me back to that day, when I saw the new name on the mirror for my character and for myself. It moved me in such a way that I had to tell you about it. Because I think we all know books like this. They are different for each of us and the best part is when they come from out of nowhere. I didn't expect this book. And yes, I will tell you what it is--on Friday. It just had such an impact on me that I wanted to dedicate a week of blog posts to it.

Because, you see, I read this book and it made me remember why I write.

What is your reason?

Do you need to remember?

See y'all Wednesday!


  1. What is the name of the book?

    Kristen thanks for this post. I need God to write over the word UGLY on my mirror. I am waiting. Praying. And waiting.

  2. Well you've peaked my interest. :-)

  3. What a powerful post, Kristen. I'm going to ponder on this all day, as my post today is also about mirrors but in a totally different way.

    Your blog is a gem. God bless you today.

  4. That was a beautiful post, Kristen! I do think we need to stop and remind ourselves of why we write. Yesterday in the sermon, our pastor said that God looks for people to use who like John the Baptist say, "He must become greater, and I must become less." I'm struggling with that concept today because in the writing world it seems like the push is to make ourselves bigger and more noticed (with platform and marketing, etc.). But I truly do want to write for Him and his glory!

  5. Great post and you have made me want to know more!
    I think it is easy to lose why we want to write. It is when I get back to my reason, that I feel that peace.

  6. This is such a powerful post! The real reason I write is because I believe God has something He wants me to share. The nudging that I get from Him pushes me to reach far into my experiences and write.

    I hope I never forget what a privilege it is to do anything for the Kingdom.

  7. You're making us wait until Friday!!! You stinker. *grin*

    I love this post. I love that God gives us a new name. Beautiful. :-)

  8. Great point and well-put. I was reminded yesterday at church that we all are given gifts and expected to make the most of it. Sometimes I focus more on skill and less on the gift...

    Elizabeth Mystery Writing is Murder

  9. Beautiful post - I'm eagerly waiting to find out what the book is!

  10. Wow. This really touched me... gave me something to think about.
    Sincerely - Thank you.

  11. Sounds like a book I need to read. Can't wait to hear which one it was. Please do share the wealth!

  12. Great post, Kristen. Isn't that why writing inspirational fiction is so rewarding? In every broken characters there's someone real lurking beneath, someone that can be transformed by the love they see God showing this character.

  13. You'll find out on Friday, Tabitha! You're welcome! And I pray that you will see your name soon!

    Good, Rebecca! That's what I hoped this post would do!

    Thank you so much, Gwen! You really encouraged me! I'm thankful to know my blog means something to more than just me.

    Thank you so much, Jody! I definitely understand that struggle! I haven't found a happy medium yet. I think it's something we have to strive for every day and take step by step. You definitely do blog for Him, Jody! I feel like you write and live for Him as well!

    Thank you, Terri! There is definitely peace in remembering our reason. It gives me focus and contentment at the same time.

  14. I believe He does for you too, Tamika! Thank you!

    Haha! Just stick around, Jessica. We'll have another topic related to this book on Wed and then the big reveal will be Friday!

    I do too, Elizabeth! Sometimes we just need to get back to where it all began.

    Thank you, Beth!

    You are so welcome, Susan! I am so glad!

    Will do, Eileen! I promise! I want to tell everyone about this book!

    I completely agree, Cindy! I love finding that "real" place!

  15. so, so true and wonderfully said.

    and - thanks for coming to my party and pointing out the crazy-wierd blogger problem of it posting as Sat Dec 5. The party is TODAY, the 7th. I posted this am and can't figure out why blogger has it out for me....

    oh well, know you got the cd and are entered for other prizes so be sure to ck back tomorrow! (just wanted to let you know so you didn't miss that)

  16. That has to be one of the most powerful posts I have ever read, seriously. And here I was coming to your blog to thank you for your words of congratulations. What a gift! Thank you so much!

    Now what is the name of that darn book?!

  17. That was a gorgeous post! I really to have take a step back and remember myself what propelled me on this journey. Now please so i can sleep at night do tell what the title of that book was!!!!!

  18. Great story and amazing. I love it when books change you, make you feel different, in a good way.

    Will check back on Friday for the name of the book.

  19. Can't wait until Friday. This was a great post. I love it when I read a book that has that kind of impact on me.

  20. Woohoo, Tess! That's great news! I'll definitely come back tomorrow! Blogger does that to several blogs I follow... I don't realize new posts are up so I always get to them late.

    Thank you, Jdcoughlin! And you're welcome! Ha--you'll have to come back Friday to find out! But we'll have a cool discussion here Wed, I promise!

    Thank you, T.Anne! Just think... Friday is even closer than Christmas... not too much waiting left!

    Wooohoo, Patti! Thank you!

    Me too, Susan R. Mills! Me too! Finding this book was such a gift!

  21. Well, aren't you HOOKING us in!

    I write because God has given me the gift and I so want to honor Him. The whole process has given me a rash that just can't be salved by anything but tapping my fingers against the keyboard--even when I leave smears of blood from the effort.

    Love being bloggites!!!


  22. This really gives you something to think about. And of course, like the others, I'd like to know what the title of the book is! Is this what you call a blog cliffhanger? :)

  23. Kristen, this was such a moving, grabbing post. I got so sucked into this room, the anguish, you told us about. Such redemption comes from such harrowing moments. I wish I could have seen it.

    Can't wait to hear more about the book.

  24. Powerful post, Kristen. I, too, can't wait to find out the name of the book that inspired it.

    I got into fiction because people will read it without the usual defenses. It doesn't point a finger, but tells a story. They are free to accept of reject the concept, but still be entertained.

    Susan :)

  25. Hey, Patti! Thanks, Bloggite! I'm happy for this friendship too! And what a great image!

    Ha! Exactly, Karen!

    Thank you, Janna! I'm so glad you were able to "see" it!

    Thanks, Susan! And I love that--it's so true. Defenses really are down in story. Thanks for pointing that out!

  26. What a tease you are, Kristen! I'll be back Friday, for sure. I do love it when a book touches my heart like that.

  27. Kristen, what an amazing post! I'm speechless. and very curious to know the book. I guess I'll have to wait till Wednesday. :(

  28. whoa. this is powerful. I want to know the name of the book too. I write - because He did what nothing else could....He turned the light on - took away the darkness - taught me the power of His gentleness. I couldn't talk but I could write. Maybe through my writing I can help turn the light on for others.

  29. Sarah--that's so beautiful! "He turned the light on". So haunting! Thank you for sharing it!

    Haha, Thanks, Ellie and Heather!

  30. Wow, what a powerful book, to make you do that much! I love finding and reading books like that. Can't wait to find out what it is.

    Well, I haven't written new words for a while, so I really need to find my reason to write again.

  31. I want to know what the book is! I write to communicate. I wrote to extend myself. I write to draw near to God. I write to create. I write to feel connected. I write to share. And I write for about a million other reasons too.

  32. Wow. That's all I can say. I remember you telling me about the "no hope" room but this post made me cry. I have so many times been in front of that mirror.

    A new name for me from God? I love it! I want that. I'm going to ask Him. I want to know what he has named me. What is above me mirror, in place of the smudged UGLY.

    Thank you for this, friend! I look forward to this week's posts :)


  33. You're welcome, friend! That room really resonates, doesn't it? The memory is so clear to me. I don't always live what I saw. I think that's the challenge to myself--to live the name I was given. Actually, you've given me an idea for Wednesday's post. It's already written, but I think I'm going to pull it out and change it a bit. Thank you!

    I love that Katie! My favorite of all is "I write to draw near to God". That's definitely a reason I share with you.

    You will, ElanaJ! You will! Thanks so much for coming by!

  34. Amazing, powerful post. I needed this. I stopped writing recently. Only for a while (house needed some major cleaning) but I'm feeling my WIP calling to me again. I'm so impressed with how you were able to stay in character like that. Stunning imagery of the word on the mirror and the transformation you felt when the new word. Thank you for reminding me to invite God into my writing sessions and my life in general. Can't wait to find out the title of the book.

  35. All too often we fail to see ourselves as God see us. This is a great reminder of that.

  36. Actually, I need to be reminded of the reason why I am writing. For some time now, I have seemed to lose track and got sucked into the droning existence of using my abilities to make ends meet...and hardly anything else. But that is not the reason why I decided to pursue writing int he first place. You're right it is a calling, a mission that needs to be fulfilled.

  37. I already know my name. It's "adorable" and I pretty much embody it.

  38. Thank you, Tara! You're so right!

    You're welcome, distresseddamsel. I pray you find renewed energy in your calling!

    Oh, Roi. ::sigh:: Yes, you definitely do.