I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like everybody is trying to be somebody these days.
A few months ago, I attended a writers conference and sat around a table with women with book deals, podcasters, and women’s discipleship pastors at large well known churches. Over a two day period it kept happening. I’d sit down to eat and we would go around the table saying why we’re all there, and eventually it would be my turn and I meekly say, “Um, I’m just a mother and a freelance writer slash kinda blogger.” Everyone was kind and no one judged me for not having an “official” platform, but as the important people rubbed elbows I walked away defeatedly singing “One of these things is not like the others.”
There is nothing like feeling like the biggest nobody amongst a group of known and loved somebodies. Frustrated and small, I cried out to God, "WHY AM I HERE?" but in that moment the Spirit simply whispered, “It’s ok to be small.”
About a month later I received a few inquiries about “creating a brand” and “growing my platform” with the promise of hopefully landing a book deal. At first it was flattering as my pride grew. "See I am somebody!" I told myself. But after some time and prayer the whole thing felt disingenuous, like I was trying to force something rather than let the Lord grow something. So again, I walked away from those conversations headed down a different unknown path, again feeling defeated.
And in the quiet I heard, “It’s ok to pursue small.”
I tell you all this not to brag (um no), but rather to share with you something completely counter cultural that I’m constantly learning and relearning. This world has told us to pursue our dreams, to go out there and be somebody! Find a stage, create a platform, and seek fame/affirmation at any cost. But what I’ve learned in the last few years is that this desire to be seen is poisonous. And I can say that because I have fallen prey to it time and time agian.
There have been many seasons when I bought the lie that the breadth of my audience was what determined the faithfulness and effectiveness of my work. I have spent seasons of my life writing with the goal of “getting seen” rather than being faithful, and the last few years of my life have been so sweet because the Lord has given me the freedom to pursue the small, the unseen. I’m not saying it’s easy or even that I do it well (because I don’t), but I am slowly learning the value of the unseen, the small.
I’m learning that showing up to a Bible study and making space for other people to lead has just as much (if not more) value as being the main event. I’m discovering that discipleship can look like having the next generation over to my house while I’m in sweatpants and chasing three small kids, instead of speaking from a stage. I have learned the hard way that being a beacon of restoration can look like serving overseas and giving up a life of comfort, but it can also look like doing life faithfully here by serving your family, forgiving your spouse, and serving your local church. And praise Jesus, I finally understand that when I serve a refugee or the poor or marginalized, it doesn’t have to be broadcasted all over social media.
These lessons are hard for those of us with strong leadership/type A personalities. We long to be seen, to lead, to conquer the world! But before anyone can lead, we must first embrace that God has called us to the unseen, upside-down life that the Gospel brings. He calls us to take up our cross and follow Jesus, the one who has already conquered the world.
Does that mean that we forsake our personalities and callings? No.
Does that mean we never lead or pursue big dreams? No.
But it does give us freedom to pursue the small. To forsake what the world tells us is grand and cling to the one thing that matters: Jesus.
There is freedom in knowing you don’t have to be anybody because Somebody paid it all for everybody.
There is freedom in quietly pursuing the disciplines of life and ministry without pursuing man’s praise or approval.
There is freedom in not looking left or right at others as they pursue their callings, and just sticking to the course He has called you to.
There is freedom in being a nobody instead of being obsessed with becoming a somebody.
There is freedom to be small.
Hoping with you and cheering you on in the most ordinary small things,