How to Handle the Emotional Garbage that Comes with the Limelight
Almost five years ago I sat down in front of my laptop and began writing my first blog post. I had never blogged before, and I didn’t read blogs very much – I just wanted a public outlet to share some of my thoughts about marriage, parenting, and God. I was not prepared for how much of a blessing and a burden the whole thing would become.
It was a blessing because I’ve always been somebody who needed to share whatever I’m learning about life. Blogging not only gave me an opportunity to do that, it helped me improve as a writer at the same time. And it was encouraging because, as my work became more widely read, I got positive feedback from people who reported that my little insights were making a difference in their life.
On the other hand, with each compliment, critique, and click on my website, I became increasingly more self-conscious. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the website I was using to host the blog made the number of clicks the most prominent thing I saw when I logged on; and before long, I found myself looking at numbers, numbers, numbers every day. I found myself stewing in frustration when nobody read my stuff and resenting myself for caring about it so much.
The Struggle for Authenticity
Every time I sat down to write, I had to fight to write about something I really cared about, rather than saying something that would reliably solicit more clicks. So eventually, I decided that it might be best to shut down the website altogether and write in my journal.
Rather than give up, though, I kept going to Jesus about my weaknesses. I was honest with Him and asked Him to give me the ability to write and create without worshiping at the throne of clicks, likes, and retweets. It’s not like He magically eliminated the broken parts of me that desire to misuse my abilities, but He met me in the brokenness.
God listened to me pour out my heart in honesty, and He kept demonstrating His love for me through scripture and honest conversations with friends. And eventually, that kind of love, that kind of reassurance – the kind I was really longing for – gave me the grace to write without so much pressure and tension. Because that kind of love made me want to use my talents to love Him back.
Stop Running from Your Ugliness
If you avoid public platforms because you’re afraid of your ugly need for approval or because you get a high off of the attention, maybe you shouldn’t give up just yet. God has given you a gift, and part of figuring out how to use it properly is working through the normal, sinful baggage that applause tends to provoke in all of us. And don’t be surprised by an applause-hungry psycho you can become in the limelight. The Word says, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised” (Proverbs 27:21, NLT).
You don’t pass the “test” by running away from your gifts – that’s just a way of masking the unseemly things you’ve discovered in the limelight. You pass the test by admitting your weakness, over and over again, and then allowing your heart to hear the compassionate words of Jesus, who says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).