Interview: Lisa Whittle

Authenticity. It’s something we simultaneously fear and crave, and something we don’t like to admit is a struggle for us. It’s also something that Lisa Whittle often writes about. Her latest book, w{hole}, talks about the holes in our lives and how God uses them to make us whole. Last week, we interviewed Lisa about some of the themes in her last two books, w{hole} and Behind Those Eyes.


4word: Why do you think we feel the need to cover up our inadequacies and act like we are all deeply spiritual and mature? 

Lisa: I think it’s because we have such a desire to be accepted and loved, and we fear losing other people’s approval. We often feel like we can’t be completely honest about our struggles because we believe people will think less of us. Sometimes, we do it to make ourselves feel better about the fact that there isn’t the depth we crave in a relationship with God and because often, we judge ourselves harsher than anyone else ever will.

4word: How does being inauthentic affect our relationships with God and with our loved ones?

Lisa: It affects both greatly. In the effort to appeal to others, inauthenticity only drives us farther from God. So the thing we really want, need and desire (a real, thriving relationship with Him) moves farther out of our reach. It also sets us up for failure in our relationships because at some point, our truth will come out. At that point, the people around us (even those who love us most) can become disappointed, disillusioned, and even, angry and resentful.

Inauthenticity in a spiritual sense is the worst kind, because it has such far-reaching effects and it ties Jesus to our disingenuous behavior — which tarnishes His character, too. What I think people misunderstand is that authenticity is not something you can formulize yourself into.  It is, instead, something that comes from within, spilling out of our lives as a result of a vibrant relationship with God. It takes being with Him first… then the authentic life is possible, instead of the other way around.

4word: Do you think that hiding our flaws and problems affects our witness to nonbelievers? How so?

Lisa: Absolutely. Non-believers are often observers to our lives, hoping that we will represent the Jesus we claim to know, love and follow in a way they can respect. Instead, we sometimes choose to preach Jesus to them but require nothing of ourselves in the way of character, commitment and love. They know that we are human and have problems, so when we try to pretend we have it all together, not only do they not believe us, but they find our life a lie and that offends them. As a result, it drives them away from Jesus… the very One they most need to know.

4word: In Behind Those Eyes, you talk about four different masks we tend to wear: Ms. Perfection, Ms. Confidence, Ms. Happiness and Ms. Spirituality. Which of those four masks do you have the greatest tendency to wear?

Lisa: I have to admit that I have, at some time, worn them all. I think it’s why every woman reader of Behind Those Eyes tells me they relate to those characters. For me, Mrs. Perfection and Mrs. Confidence are in a tie for first place. I know in my head that perfection is not humanly possible, but still, my flesh wants it, and that causes a problem. Mrs. Confidence is near and dear to my heart. Not only do I know her well, but also my heart is soft towards her because I know, firsthand, how hard it is to always be seen as strong and together and yet have such an insecure place inside that craves love, affirmation and acceptance. It can be a lonely place to live for the women always viewed as being fearless or holding it all together. People around them forget that they, too, have needs.

4word: How do you fight the tendency to wear those masks?

Lisa: I fight all my fleshly tendencies (and I have many) the same way. It is the only way I know that really works — the only way to find true soul wholeness: on my knees, daily, before God. I know that often we want a different answer — a quick fix or easy 1-2-3 to help us stay in an authentic and healthy space. But the truth is, there is nothing else. I have tried it. It’s not about reading another book or finding a magic cure. It is about staying in God’s Word, committing to believing its truth, making your relationship with God your lifeline and staying away from things and people who do not help support those efforts. It is… the only way to be real.


Would you like to hear more from Lisa? We encourage you to check out her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter: @LisaRWhittle. Finally, Lisa’s three books (w{hole}, Behind Those Eyes and The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do) are all available on Amazon, and