Celebrating the forthcoming release of the new book, The Storyteller, today is Day 9 of the Book Giveaway! Each day for ten days , I will post a question and response from the book’s Discussion Guide . Anyone who posts a response with h/her thoughts either on WordPress or Facebook (“Stories That Matter”) will be automatically entered to win a copy of the book when it is released! I will give away 3 copies.

Day 9’s Question

Olivia implies that Daphne sees someone different in herself than what others see in her. Do you think most people see themselves the same way others see them? If not, which version is likely closer to the truth of who we are?

 Discussion Guide

First, this is one of my favorite scenes in the book. Olivia is Clayton’s mother; Clayton is one of my favorite all-time character. The scene takes place on Daphne & Cole’s wedding day. Olivia goes in to see Daphne and finds her staring in a gilded mirror, crying. She’s crying because reflected in the mirror she sees “the girl [her father] saw.” Halfwit. Demon-possessed. She sees the scars and the physical evidence of unspeakable violence. As if it’s tattooed onto her skin in big, bold, black letters, all she sees are the lies that have been shouted at her, ingrained in her, throughout her entire life. When I stand before a mirror, what do I see? I see ineptitude, awkwardness, problem-maker, attention-seeker. I see failure. Some of this is because I’ve never lived up to the people around me: I don’t have the social circles, I don’t have the right job or the right car or the right clothes or the right experiences. Without these things, I see incompetence, even when I have proof that I not only meet but exceed expectations. I don’t see that because I think They don’t know the real me and I think that because I was told that; it was a recurring chant. I believed it because I was clumsy: it took me half my life to learn which shoe went on which foot and let’s not even get into the epic social fails or not missing social cues because I was so focused on doing the right thing that I failed to experience the moment.

As any loving, caring person would, Olivia senses the turmoil in the bride-to-be and the reason behind it. She tells her the story of how she and Pete, Clayton’s father, came to be and how she felt she wasn’t being true to herself on their wedding day. She reassures her that her only job is to love Cole; not ask for his permission, not meet his every need, but to love him. He doesn’t want anything else because she is enough. Cole, later in the book, reinforces this idea when he says,

“I want something far more important than revenge. I want you to see a tiny part of the woman I see.”


Who and what does Cole see in Daphne? He says, “You’re exquisite.” He also says, “You’re not just a princess, Daphne, you’re a warrior and you’re my Cinderella.” He calls her hero. These accolades don’t match what she sees in herself and it’s that struggle with knowing what to belief and not knowing how to change what you’ve already accepted as true long before. When I was in college, on the outside, I looked perfectly normal. See proof below:

This is me at 17 with David Lee Murphy. He was seriously swoon worthy

I didn’t see that girl that’s in that picture in the mirror. It was like I saw someone completely different. The dichotomy confused me and was very painful. It made me do things like use hairbrushes to make bruises in a futile attempt to make the outside match the inside. When people called me pretty or smart or creative, I had excuses play like scripts in my head: I’m not smart, I study and, also, have they seen my math grades? I’m not pretty, I mean, have they seen my braces? I’m not creative; literally anybody can write. So, the praises didn’t penetrate the walls. The amount of loneliness and sadness that not being able to recognize lies for lies cost me dearly.

The truth is that I am a little bit of both, probably. I probably am creative because I don’t only write, I come up with games as a way of teaching and I think outside of the box. What I see is relationships, which is why kindness, understanding and patience is so important to me; everything else is secondary. I am not going to be a mathematician (thank you, Lord) but I’m also not the dimmest light in the room: I can hold my own in an intelligent and meaningful conversation. While I may not be strong, I am capable and I will try really, really hard. The truth is that people are not static, we are complicated and messy, and all of the adjectives we can think of probably apply to us at one point or another in our life journey. At various times in my life, I have been creative, stubborn, kind, unkind, smart, ignorant, awkward, graceful, funny, dramatic; I have excelled at hard things, but I have also failed at easy things. Our “self-portrait” regardless of when it is taken is only a snapshot of who we are in that moment. As our environment, circumstances, relationships, desires and needs change, we adapt, simultaneously creating and burying new parts of ourselves. It’s what makes relationships so beautiful–we embrace the whole person when we commit to being someone’s friend or romantic partner, even though we can’t even know who the whole person is because they’re still growing, still evolving.

However we see ourselves, I don’t think it’s usually the full picture. For me, though, it’s not a matter of listening to others’ views of us because their views of who we are might change over time. What won’t change is the fact that we are loved, adored and called sons and daughters of the Most High. This is not just some platitude meant to make us feel better about ourselves: the guardian and giver of miracles, the holiest of holies, the God of Abraham and Jacob knows everything about us — our hurts, our strengths, our weaknesses, even what we’re going to eat for dinner five years from this moment. The fact that we are sons and daughters of God–who is so wise and strong–speaks volumes to me. He could have made me a snail but he made me as a human. Michael W. Smith gave this talk at our church, and it made me cry (Michael starts at 21:01). Feeling loved, knowing that you are loved, and that you are enough for the people in your life, for the ones you adore: this is what creates that sense of confidence, empowerment, comfort and joy. Love can and will change your life because when you believe that you are valued infinitely more than you can comprehend, that is your truth, and it doesn’t matter whether you feel loved on a particular day or not. Just because you can’t see the air doesn’t mean it’s not there. If we filter our self-narrative scripts through the lens of those who love us and through the Bible, we’re given a more complete view of who we are. Cole’s unconditional acceptance and love of Daphne inspired in her the desire to see beyond the scars to the woman he saw. Who are you inspiring to see beyond the mirror?