I’m not a very opinionated person. But the opinions I do hold, I hold very strongly. I like to think this is because they are the types of things that matter to God. I’m sure this is true in some instances and not others.
One of these convictions is the importance of relationships and love — with God and people. Jesus told us the two greatest commands that sum up all the law and the prophets: love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). If we could figure out what this really means and how to live it out, I think we would be surprised at how marvelous this life can be.
I feel like I have helpful things to say about things that matter, and I’m an extreme introvert. So the best way I know to communicate is through writing, not speaking. Over the past few months I have pondered various ways of communicating important truths — children’s stories, video games, iPad apps, blog posts, guest blog posts, short accessible books. And yet I have written next to nothing.
Despite this desire to share these truths, I’ve felt little motivation and energy to write despite having been a rather devoted writer in the past. I have, also, felt an internal struggle between the need to express these thoughts and to engage in community. These two are obviously not inherently at odds, but by nature of my personal limitations at the moment, they seem to be. I’m an extreme introvert, which is not enough alone to keep me from social engagement, but 4 years ago I seem to have developed a hypersensitivity to stress which causes chronic headaches and migraines. Whenever I am socially engaged for an extended length of time, I get a migraine. And so I have felt this tug-of-war in my heart between my desires to write and desires to engage with people that I might grow in love.
But last night, I had a revelation.
I thought of a rather ingenious idea for a children’s book iPad app. It turns out someone else had thought of and released a similar app only last month (cue: implementation is worth a gazillion times more than an idea!). It’s a book where the child gets to make an avatar of himself, and he is a character in the story. I would like to see the stories take the attention off of the child so he would learn the story isn’t always about him… maybe I will suggest that to them. It’s called Book of Me, if anyone wants to check it out. They did a really great job with it, and it sounds like kids love it. As I had thought they would. Anyway… getting off track.
It would have been easy to be frustrated or upset that someone else had already taken this incredible idea I just had, especially because I’m sure it will be really successful. But I had to be realistic about it. I’m not an artist. And the main attraction of children’s books is the pictures. My ideas for how to use that kind of book might be great, but God does not seem to have placed me in a position to do that work.
And then I’m not even sure how it hit me except that maybe I saw how futile everything I was trying to do was. I remembered Andy Stanley’s message this Sunday: we’re not here to make a point; we’re here to make a difference.
I’ve been trying to make a point. In the midst of my desire to communicate about the importance of relationships and community and love, God has shown me that it is more important to practice and grow in these than it is to write about them. Usually it is much more difficult to make a difference than it is to make a point, but I think God has been gracious to me in making my writing difficult lately so that I could learn this lesson.
The summer I was researching humility, God seemed to turn that entire season into an object lesson in humility. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, I was a helpless, humiliated mess and came to really know and understand Christ’s covering of grace over me in ways I never would have been able to experience without being taken to that place of helplessness. I learned that being a street sweeper (or in my specific case, living with my parents jobless, then a church secretary and now a homemaker *without* children) was just as honorable and dignified in God’s kingdom as being a Ph.D.
Once again I’m having to learn that in order to live my life well, it needs to look a lot smaller than I expect. Instead of writing a blog or a book that might reach dozens or hundreds or thousands of people, I need to write letters and emails and cards to a handful of people who are in my life right now. I need to learn how to love and be part of a community using the unique gifts and design God has given me. I need humility to make a difference where I am. I need humility to fulfill the highest calling — to love God and to love the people in my life.