Deep within me there is a desire for recognition. I’m not exactly sure where it comes from. Maybe it comes from seventh grade when I was cut from the basketball team. Or maybe eight grade when I was cut from the basketball team. Or there was that time in ninth grade when I was cut from the baseball team, only to be given the esteemed honor of team manager. It seemed everyone else was getting noticed for their ability and sometimes I wondered, “When is my turn?”
Last week, I got noticed. Well, not me per se, but my blog did.
The attention I have gotten over the last week because of my recent blog post has been humbling, scary, encouraging, anxiety producing, ego-boosting, and affirming. Thousands of likes on Facebook, hundreds of new email followers, and recognition from a well known blogger have all given me my 5 minutes (nothing lasts 15 minutes on the internet) of internet fame – and let’s be honest, Internet fame ranks only slightly above playground notoriety and an appearance on The Price is Right.
Honestly, I really don’t know what to do with it. I have a lot of conflicting emotions. Part of me wants to take advantage of the boost in platform. It feels like a door to greater influence has opened and if I am ever going to walk through it, now is the time. After all, you only get one shot, right? The other part of me knows the dangers of having my already healthy ego inflated some more. Maybe it would just be better to let the attention die down and get back to normal. Another part of me is just scared.
People are following me now. They expect me to connect like that every time I post. What if I don’t?
Deep within me there is a dull, droning voice telling me I have to keep it up. Write the next blog post, say the next inspirational thing, make the magic happen again. Honestly, part of me wants that. I want to make it happen again. There is something intensely gratifying about connecting with and getting noticed by so many people. But, it is like an addiction. I can feel it; slimy, needy, aching, and nagging as it consumes my thoughts.
I had a conversation with a trusted friend who said both options, building and doing nothing, have pros and cons. And whatever I decide to do, the real truth is that I am going to make some messes because, well, that’s what you do when you learn and your human.
Thanks. I have great clarity in what to do.
He’s right, though. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to respond to the attention. Regardless of how I respond, I will make a mistakes. I will fail to steward the platform well by either not stepping into it with full confidence that God is doing something and is inviting me to participate with him, or I will get a big head and think more highly of myself than I should. There is no shame in that thought, but there is a heaviness. Actually, it is more of a frustration because I hate failing at things.
I am going to let go of trying to do it right, and I going to embrace some hopes. These are not hopes about what happens to this blog. Rather, they are hopes of who and how I want to be.
I hope I steward this platform well. I don’t take it lightly that so many people have decided to let me be a conversation partner. Thank you for that.
I hope I help people learn to be a more obedient disciples of Jesus. The word disciple simply means “learner.” I want to be a better learner as it pertains to following Jesus. As I work that out, I hope people learn with me. This was the original reason I started this blog and I don’t think I should abandon it.
I hope to always struggle, and to display my struggle, with what it means to follow Jesus. I disdain (perhaps in a sinful manner) slogans on coffee mugs, t-shirts, bumper-stickers and bracelets that reduce following Jesus to an axiom. Axioms, slogans, x-number of steps, platitudes – whatever you want to call them – don’t make any room for struggle. But struggling and wrestling with our faith is a good thing. In fact, “Israel” actually means “to struggle with God.” Think about that. The name of God’s chosen people is actually “those who struggle with God.” But at times it feels as though Christians aren’t allowed to struggle. I want to embrace the struggle and I want to help people as they struggle with their faith. I trust that, in the struggle, we will find God just as Jacob did.
I hope a diversity of opinions is welcomed. Even if they disagree with me. Because in the end, that’s how we learn. Sitting behind walls of certainty and confidence only reinforces a worldview formulated by a being with finite understanding. Diversity of thought allows us to see and learn what it is that we don’t know we don’t know. And what I don’t know I don’t know probably has to the power to change me.
I hope to think theologically about the broad spectrum of the human experience. I live in a very nice, very bubbled, very safe suburban city filled with kids and minivans and people coming home from work in white collars. My experience is very different than the farmer who watches the rain clouds, the orphan who lost both parents to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, the girl being sex-trafficked, or the Palestinian-Christian persecuted on all fronts. While I can never speak to their experience, I can think theologically about how I hope, pray, and work for their good.
I hope the way I present myself virtually is consistent with who I actually am. Being completely honest, it is easy for me to be the person I want to be on this blog. It is easy for me to be who I want to be when I preach. I can clean it up, be compassionate, ask the questions, differentiate myself, and have the perfect pretense when there is the need to perform. It is hard to be that person at home and with those who know me best. But, and this is the kicker, it is more important for me to become who God is shaping me into than it is for me to become recognized because of a blog. Working hard to ensure I have integrity in my person in every context is something I am giving my word to.
These are not just hopes I have for how I conduct myself on a blog, these are hopes I have for how I conduct myself. Everywhere. All the time. Becoming the person who embodies these values is the real work. It is vastly more important than trying to make lightning strike twice in the blogosphere. So as much as I hope to make these hopes a reality in the space of a blog, my greater hope is to make them a reality at home, at church, with my neighbors, and in my third places.
What hopes are you embracing where you find yourself? What values do you want to embody?