I have a confession to make. The title of this series changed about 5 times as I perused my shelves.
I’m not kidding; there are way more than seven books that make my annual re-read list. Pretty much all of Robin McKinley’s books do, most of Lori Wick’s, all of Julie Klassen’s, several of Madeleine L’Engle’s, Lisa McMann’s Unwanted Series, the Harry Potter books… and that’s just fiction. We haven’t even looked at non-fiction yet!
But there was never a question as I started putting this list together that this next book would be on it.
Pretense is not for the faint of heart. People, this is a looong book. If I’ve ever read the entire thing in one sitting, I don’t remember it (and there are books that I have!). But it is worth the time commitment.
Pretense follows the spiritual journeys of 4 people – Paul and Marrell Bishop, and their daughters, Mackenzie & Delancey. Paul and Marrell become Christians (much to the initial chagrin of their daughters), but their faith journeys leave a lasting legacy for their children. Both girls have very different personalities and talents, and choose to pursue very different lifestyles as they enter adulthood, but they find themselves drawn together by both the bonds of sisterhood and their collaboration on profession projects. Eventually (because this is, of course, a good “Christian fiction” book) both girls come to faith in Christ, and their own spiritual journeys, in turn, have lasting impact on their families and their professional lives.
But that only begins to sum it up…
For me, the compelling character in this story is Mackenzie Bishop. Mackenzie is a curious blend of tough girl and inner artist. She’s smart, responsible, prudent, and kind; she can focus on the task at hand like nobody’s business, and she cares deeply about the very small circle of people she allows into her life. (And all my IRL readers are about cracking up right now, because this is SO me…)
But Mackenzie has a secret – one she just can’t bring herself to share with many people – and when she becomes a Christian, keeping that secret becomes more and more difficult. She longs to be more transparent – and yet her reasons for not telling the whole truth are honest and fair. Mackenzie faces, on a very practical level, a question we all face: “how much of my true self can I reveal, and still feel safe?”
What Mackenzie’s story taught me, long before I truly understood the lesson, is that having a close circle of people around you (be they family and/or friends) that you can trust completely is essential to a healthy life.
We *need* people who know our stories, who know us (sometimes) better than we know ourselves. Click To Tweet
We need their wisdom, counsel, and perspective – and we need their companionship. We are people created in the image of a triune God, and just as He has community within Himself, so He created us to need each other.
God said, “It is not good for a man to be alone…” – and it isn’t.
Sidenote: One of the other things I love about Pretense is the friendship that Mackenzie forms with a man named Paxton, who becomes one of her biggest cheerleaders along the way, in spite of the fact that his perspective on life is vastly different than Mackenzie’s. Their friendship is completely platonic, and they both, in fact, go on to marry other people – but their friendship stays intact through all of the changes that come their way.
This was the first Christian book I’d ever read that suggested on any level that such a thing was possible – but in retrospect, I can see how this story helped shaped my expectations about the potential of cross-gender friendships, and I will be forever grateful for the seeds that it planted. I cannot even imagine life without the strong friendships I maintain with several of the men in my life; they are my brothers in the truest sense of the word, and my life is so much the better for them.
So. Who are the people in your life around whom you can be completely yourself, and with whom you never have to pretend anything? How has community shaped your life?
This post is part of a series entitled “Seven Stories That Have Shaped My Life.” Catch the rest of the series here.
photo courtesy of ©Depositphotos.com / william87
Simple Felicity is, at its heart, a blog based on the unshakeable belief that happiness really isn't all that complicated. Sometimes finding it can be - but happiness itself is pretty simple, and it's often found in the simplest of things: good food, good books, and good company. So those are the things I write about, along with a few other things that really matter to me, including faith and feminism.
A bit about me: My name is Happy. I have an amazing talent for misplacing my keys, a deep appreciation for whomever looked at the coffee bean and thought, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if I roasted this?", and road trips to Michigan are pretty much my favorite.
Contact me anytime at simplefelicity7 (at) gmail (dot) com! I'd love to hear from you.
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