Spotlight

For nearly three years, I managed a blog called One Mother to Another. The main focus was, of course, motherhood, and with over four million American mothers writing about the exact same topic, it was nothing that hadn’t been said before. Still, it was my little corner of the internet, and I loved it. Much to my surprise, other people liked it, too. What began as a tiny site with just a handful of readers grew over time into a flourishing community of mothers from all over the world that were reading the words I had to say. For the first time in my life, I found myself squarely in the spotlight.

The growth process was gradual; gain a little, lose a little. Sometimes I’d publish a piece that was unpredictably popular and amass hundreds of new readers in the time it took to refresh my browser window. Other days, I’d unknowingly anger a bunch of women with a flippant comment and lose a whole slew of readers in one fell swoop. I’d love to say that I barely noticed the constant fluctuations, but that wouldn’t be the truth.

The truth is that, just as the tiny dips in readership hurt my pride, the rising numbers fed the fire of my ego. Having more than 10,000 people tracking one’s every utterance on social media and expressing their adoration in the form of likes and shares can do that to a person. As someone who suffered through many years of cripplingly low self-esteem, I felt like I owed it to myself to enjoy my minor brush with fame. I’d created something that had never existed before and people truly loved it. Outwardly, I pretended that all the attention made me uncomfortable. On the inside, I had never felt so significant.

Which is why it came as a surprise to everyone, including me, when I shuttered my blog at the height of its popularity earlier this year.

I told my readers that I was giving it up to spend more time with my family. Which was absolutely true. Blogging and all that came with it devoured every moment of my free time. It made me into that mom I never wanted to be, with a phone in her hand and a finger constantly held up, asking her kids to wait just another minute for her attention.

But there’s another reason I’ve never acknowledged publicly: I stopped liking the woman I’d become with the world as her stage.

That had never mattered to me until I became a follower of Jesus. I lived selfishly and truly believed that my so-called fame was based on my own merits. People enjoyed my writing and they liked my personality, which had everything to do with me and what I’d created. It wasn’t until I started seeing recurring themes in the Bible about giving the rightful glory to God that I began to feel like maybe all that adoration wasn’t mine to take. For the first time, the attention truly did make me uncomfortable. Instead of pointing people to Jesus, I’d invested years of my life pointing people to me. The truth was hard to stomach.

Now I’m an unpaid volunteer at a small church for which almost no one even realizes I work. I write for a blog that has 15 followers, two of which are my parents.  I went from being the star of the show to the stagehand lingering awkwardly behind the curtain, hoping not to get caught in the spotlight. And you want to know the real truth? I’ve honestly never been happier.

Fortunately for me, I can still use the talents God gifted me with, but employ them as a way to serve His kingdom and give Him the glory He is due instead of myself. That truly makes me feel more significant than a hundred likes on Facebook ever did. Now that my life’s work is pointing people to Him, I actually feel like I’m putting something of value into this world.

I can’t lie: I am intensely proud of what I created with One Mother to Another and I do believe it served a lot of women very well in its time. But I am also positive that it’s not the legacy God wants me to leave. A few months ago if I’d asked myself the all-important question Pastor Keith posed this past Sunday—Would what you’re creating now be found in a world where Jesus is King?—I’d have had to say no. Was I doing something worthwhile and well-intentioned? Yes. But was I doing it for His glory and praise? Definitely not.

I believe a lot of people share my desire to leave a mark on this world that outlasts our respective lifetimes. Maybe it’s just human nature to not want to be forgotten after we’re gone. For a time, I convinced myself that One Mother to Another was my legacy; I truly believed it would be the thing people spoke about at my funeral, how I connected thousands of women and changed lives with my writing. I look back on that aspiration now and realize how shallow it was, how deeply I desired the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

Though I’m certain I will always wrestle with the little part of me that craves recognition and fame, I now know the questions I need to ask myself when it feels like I’m starting to slip. Does this give glory and honor to God alone? Would this belong in a world where Jesus is king? If I can’t answer yes to either of those questions, then I know I need to reevaluate my actions and intentions.

I have to admit that being out of the spotlight is a huge relief. Even though I enjoyed the attention, it rarely felt natural for me. The spotlight is harsh and unforgiving, a place where weaknesses and imperfections can’t help but be exposed. Center stage is not the place for imperfect people.  But unlike my very flawed, all-too-human self, God is someone I can confidently point to as being completely deserving of other people’s adoration. There’s no catch, there are no skeletons in His closet, no reason to find Him lacking.  He and He alone deserves the spotlight.

As Pastor Keith reminded us on Sunday, if we want to create something that lasts, we have to get ourselves of the way. We don’t belong in the starring role and we are not the ones people will remember anyway. Oddly enough, the way to leave a lasting legacy is not, as we tend to believe, to spend our lives pointing to ourselves. Rather, it’s to let the real star of the show take His rightful place in center stage and do what only He can do.

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