All prospective authors know that sending a proposal out on a book you’ve written feels a little like sending pictures of yourself naked and inviting people to comment on how you look.

It’s super fun and not scary at all.

That’s why reading the following sentence in my devotional hit me square in the eyes this week:

Beware of seeing yourself through other people’s eyes.

When you are inviting others to evaluate you, “seeing yourself through other people’s eyes” is a filter that’s difficult to avoid. Maybe there is an area of your life where you struggle with this too.

If you’ve been following my writing path, you know that my second book has had quite a trajectory—from being contracted and almost finished, to being shelved due to slower-than-expected sales on my first book (always humbling), to being almost resurrected with a new title (which I wasn’t crazy about), to finally being released to seek another publisher.

Note to self: When you publish a book with the title

grunge image of a field

be prepared for all the ways you will continue to live it.

The good news is, things have taken an uphill turn. A couple new publishers ARE in fact, interested. However, because I have an honest, “cut to the chase” agent (who I love even when it hurts), the negative responses get sent right along with the positive ones, which makes “seeing yourself through other people’s eyes” a bit of a moving target.

Which is exactly the reason we are not supposed to do it.

Here were a few of the comments that graced my inbox over the last couple of weeks:

  • “She is a solid writer but I don’t think this is one we’ll pursue” (BOO)
  • We deeply appreciated her writing, and we hope we’ll have the opportunity to work with her and see this book to completion.” (YAY)
  • We weren’t really compelled by her writing and wanted more of a throughline than a string of stories. (BOO) As a result we opted to pass. (BIG BOO)
  • We are definitely interested (YAY) However, we do have some questions and thoughts I’d like to discuss with her. (SLIGHTLY LESS ENTHUSIASTIC YAY)

In a matter of hours, “seeing myself through other people’s eyes” moved me from failure, to awesome, to semi failure, to semi awesome– and up and down the chart many times over. (There were more yay’s and boo’s that you didn’t see).

The fact of the matter is this: Seeing yourself through others’ eyes can be alternately humbling and exalting— and neither extreme is an accurate assessment of who you are. So the good news- or bad news- (depending on your present state of mind) is this:

You are neither as lousy- nor as great- as the world is currently making you feel.

I want to be clear that feedback is good; it’s important to be self-aware, and take in what you need to grow. For instance, if you get repeated messages that you are frequently late, (something I have no a little experience in), you can either conclude that everyone needs to loosen up, or set your watch fifteen minutes ahead.

I recommend the latter for job security as well as marital happiness.

So if a message is coming to you again and again in different forms, it might be time to heed it. On the other hand, if pleasing everyone in the world is what you need to achieve happiness, you may want to paste this warning to your mirror, and look at it before you walk out the door.

Beware of seeing yourself through other people’s eyes.

The truth is, it’s God’s eyes that matter most.
And the more we view ourselves- and our life- through that filter, the happier our life becomes.

Which ironically is what my second book is about.
Stay tuned.