“Be an actress or model… FOR CHRIST!”
Whenever I tune in to Pandora, this is the ad I hear shouted between songs. Somewhere in America there is a talent agency selling a double-dream: you can enjoy all the benefits of celebrity (the highest achievement an American can aspire to!) AND also the benefits of Christianity (America’s most popular religious brand!) Who could ask for anything more?
I won’t deny there was a time in my life when this ad would have appealed to me. Perhaps it is that younger version of myself I am really scoffing at when I mock this ad. I know better now, I like to think, than to believe that I can gain the whole world and keep my soul to boot. But I won’t deny that these past few months I’ve been considering if God might want me to be more famous. Couldn’t he use my writing even more for his glory… if I had a platform?
As a Christian, I know the dangers of self-promotion. I know the way that a focus on self feeds your ego until it becomes an untamed monster that destroys relationships. I can see how the goal of making a name for yourself can tempt you to use the end-goal of fame to justify whatever ugly means you use to get there. I don’t want any part in that.
But here I am, in possession of an itch that I can’t find a way to scratch. I want to write. I don’t just want to write, I want to write what others will read and to find out what they agreed and disagreed with. I want to be involved in that great exchange of ideas I see happening every day on the internet and in the books I read. But how to participate when you don’t have much of a voice?
It’s a struggle all dreamers have to face eventually, I would bet. If you want to do any kind of art for a living, you have to find a way to get your art to the people who will value it enough to pay for it. How to do that isn’t very clear. It’s not exactly a job you can apply for.
Like me, perhaps, you conclude that this must not be your calling. How can I be called if the phone isn’t ringing?
But, at least for me, the desire won’t go away. There are combinations of words that haven’t been tried! Ideas that haven’t been expressed in the ways I want to express them! Perhaps, just maybe, there are even metaphors that haven’t been turned into cliches yet and I can be the one to help people see the astonishing parallels between the world around us and the world inside of us.
J.A. Medders, a writer I’d never heard of before, dared to confess his own temptation for self-promotion in a recent blog post. He said “I believed the lie I could make a name for myself for the sake of Christ. Baloney. That’s not how the Kingdom works.”
I agree. The kingdom I joined grows through obscurity, through humility, through meekness. It isn’t meant to be a celebrity-making machine or a power-grabbing demographic group. The kingdom of God works against the grain. It’s counter-intuitive and tremendously effective.
All that to say, I’ve been avoiding writing. One day I’m afraid my small thoughts will get lost in the blustering storm of the internet. The next I’m afraid I’ll use my ideas to make a name for myself and lose perspective. What’s the point of writing if I don’t promote it tirelessly?
I’m not sure I know what the point of my writing is. I just know that this blog is the plot of ground I’ve got, and that words are the tools I know how to use. So, I’m back. I’m writing. I’m going to remove a few of the filters of self-consciousness. I’ve decided I love writing enough to do it poorly for awhile as I try to figure out what, if anything, I have to say that might be worth hearing.
Thanks for listening.