Sometimes it’s the quiet, rainy days that do it. An inconspicuous chilly Tuesday morning in early October where nothing is out of the ordinary when it hits you. A moment so seemingly small you almost miss it.
But you don’t, and everything changes.
I’ve been stuck lately. For months, it seems. It’s been the accumulation of a buildup years in the making. I’ve become a product of my environment. Tired eyes, a hustle spirit, poor sleeping habits, constantly distracted by the barrage of blue light from the electronics I can never be more than 3 feet from at all times. A perfect Pavlovian example; conditioned to stop all other things and dive for one the second I get a notification.
Introducing: the all new iPhone. The 2022 version of a ball and chain.
And it’s this attitude, this belief I’ve adopted, that has allowed all other things to suffer. Most of all: my joy.
Somewhere along the way I allowed the noise of the world to block out all other sounds. This constant be more, do more, achieve more, strive for more, more more more mentality became my idol. Every idea, every hobby, everything I used to do for the fun of it became a way I could, and should (according to the world) make more money, influence, or build my personal brand.
Like I’m not a soul anymore, but a walking, texting, trademark.
I should be an expert. I should be adding side hustles. I should be wearing less and selling more. I should be sharing what I’m eating, wearing, watching, reading, listening to. All for the sake of the satisfaction of clicks. Numbers that don’t add up to anything.
Posting every single detail of a perfectly curated life. One that’s so on brand.
And then whenever I didn’t feel I was achieving the amount of success the world told me I should be seeing.. if I didn’t have enough likes, or follows, or a little blue check mark next to my name.. I was a failure. And my efforts weren’t good enough. Which must mean I’m not doing enough. So further into the grind I would lose myself.
And for what?
Why have I been so caught up in worrying if a stranger likes my photo, if I don’t recognize who I’ve become because of it?
I’m not even a fan of social media. I hate being glued to a screen; spending all my time indoors. And every memory created being photographed and filmed for the rest of the world to see what they’re missing out on. Losing all that’s sacred in terms of privacy.
I hate focusing on numbers; being a salesperson, and the competition and comparison that comes with everything we do online.
Are these the moments I will look back on when my time is near and remember? Crafting the perfect caption? The clicking between tabs? The refreshing of a feed, the counting of likes? A follower count? Being so consumed with a virtual world that only exists as we create it to be?
Because at the end of the day… None of it is real.
The thought of that makes me so sad. A life lived in a blue light afterglow.
So why are we spending so much of our time ignoring reality and living in perception?
Yet even in the hating of it, I find myself constantly jumping back into the hamster wheel. Ready to go around one more time.
These are the thoughts that have been taking up space in my brain as of late. All the worrying moments about purpose, plans, and walking the tightrope act between balancing goals that keep me tethered to a computer while still getting enough sunshine each day.
When minding my business (possibly obsessing over this exact internal dialogue) on the aforementioned Tuesday morning a song came on the radio with lyrics that caught my attention:
“I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name oh, oh,
He knows my name oh, oh“
– Francesca Battistell
And it hit me..
Why do I feel the constant need for acknowledgment on earth when I am beyond recognized by the one opinion that trumps any and everyone else’s?
“I don’t need my name in lights.”
The world has gotten skillful at drilling this narrative into our head: we are the main character. It’s all about YOU. Be unapologetically yourself, be loud, be bold. But really? When we shed the layers and the persona and the character we’ve created for ourselves online.. We’re really not that important.
“I’m famous in my Father’s eyes.”
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”Philippians 2:3-4
And if in everything we do, our goal is to climb a societal ladder for the sake of being famous, or wealthy, or popular.. because the world tells us we should be, we’ll never amass the riches that we keep pursuing. And any success that we are able to grab onto from it will be fleeting.
“Make no mistake, He knows my name.”
Life isn’t about the emojis we use, or a carefully curated photo grid. It isn’t about the amount of affiliate links we convert, or how many hours we can spend working each day. There’s no award for who does the most, or who can get by on the least amount of sleep.
And confidence isn’t something that comes from an influencer status.
“I’m not living for applause.”
But it does come from the biggest Influencer I’ve ever known. Confidence through Christ is quiet. It’s assured. It doesn’t tell us that we have to be the loudest in the room because we know that being loud doesn’t make us right, or important, it just makes us loud.
Confidence in Christ means putting others before ourselves. And we can know that shift has occurred in our hearts when we’re more concerned with elevating others than we are our own status.
“I’m already so adored.”
Approval, acceptance, accolades.. They don’t mean a thing if we’ve sacrificed our relationship with Jesus to pursue them from everyone else whose opinion shouldn’t matter.
“It’s all His stage”
Instead of looking toward worldly things to validate yourself, we should be looking toward Jesus. He created us in His image. He knew us before He even formed us in our mother’s womb. He’s counted the hairs on our heads.. What kind of love could we possibly need from anyone in this world that even comes close to comparing to the love our God has for each and every single one of us? Our worth comes from knowing Him. Period.
“He knows my name.”
And you know what else I realized?
My son feels the same way.
The very person whose time and attention I often distractedly rush through, half listening, while going through the motions trying to keep up with a never ending people-pleasing to-do list.
My son knows my name. I’m already so adored.
“Your greatest contribution to the universe may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”unknown
In trying to seek out my “true purpose” I have completely ignored the obvious.. standing taller every day right in front of me, inching closer bit by bit to my cheekbones, and will soon surpass me, I just know it. He’s been patient.. waiting, wanting, yearning for me to pause from the hustle to notice.. That he is not a baby anymore.
Maybe this life of mine isn’t so much about what I do. The goals I chase or what I think my own definition of success truly is. Maybe it isn’t about my social media status, or how many followers I gain, or the likes or dislikes that accompany my profile posts.
Maybe everything I’ve been searching for, seeking, creating, trying to find.. Has been in front of me this whole time.
I think in my lifetime I am supposed to be a writer. I think I am supposed to encourage others. But I know, more than anything else, I am supposed to be Cooper’s mom.
My biggest contribution has nothing to do with an avatar or a following of people I will never meet. Instead, he has red hair, a heart of gold, and he’s already my biggest fan.
They say that signs are all around us, we just have to be willing to see them. This was the quote from my planner today:
“I choose to make peace with what today has come to teach me.”Karega Bailey