Friday, May 3, 2019

From My Reading - Simply Tuesday, by Emily P. Freeman

Last month I purchased The Next Right Thing, by Emily P. Freeman, and could hardly wait to dive into it. I bought the Kindle version, because the amount of books that are taking up space in our house right now really is astounding, even after having downsized a number of times.  If buying books is an illness, I hope they never find a cure! Though in the interest of space, and after lugging far too many heavy boxes of books with each move, I have learned to appreciate maintaining a digital library.

As is often the case when I purchase a book, I will inquire on other titles the author has written, which was when I discovered that I had previously purchased her book, Simply Tuesday. In typical fashion, that was also the moment I realized that I had never read it. In light of this discovery, I quickly concluded that the next right thing for me to do was to read the first book, not that one depends upon the other. I think this probably has more to do with my OCD, in which case there is no argument for the order in which should be read, at least, not in my mind. :)

Often when I read a book I'll take notes, noting passages that resonate with me and that I don't want to forget. And almost as often, my thoughts concerning them will find their way into my posts, as is the case today. I'm in the second part of the book, which is grouped into five parts with three chapters in each, so I still have a way to go. But I'm taking my time, and because there is so much that I relate to, I'm taking lots of notes. This morning I finished Chapter 4, which speaks to Efforts and Outcomes, and the words just spoke to my soul. The message she shares aligned completely with where my heart is and has been for some time, but especially in light of my recent desire to pare down my social media numbers and return to what I refer to as "old fashioned blogging"

Without giving too much away, because if you haven't already, you really should just read the book, one of the ideas she speaks to is embracing your smallness. Like the kind of small you might feel when you stand on the shore of the ocean, or look up into a big starlit sky. Remembering, essentially, that God is God, and we are not. Because it's easy to get so caught up in the busyness of life and take on the mindset that somehow all of this, especially our success, is completely dependent upon and because of us. My daddy used to refer to that as, "getting too big for your britches", and I think God would concur.  One of the headlines in this chapter is titled, "Being Able to Build It, But Not Being Able To Fill It", which speaks primarily to the way numbers have taken on so much significance in our lives. How many friends do I have on FB, how many followers on Instagram?  How many people liked my post, commented or left a message, or re-pinned my pin? How much money is in my bank account, how much did I make last month, last year? It's pretty staggering, if you really think about it. Especially when you consider that if your numbers are low, it can make you feel small, and not in the standing on the shore of the ocean kind of way, small as in, unimportant, unpopular, undesired. Even if we claim that numbers don't define us, I know that for me personally, I've still taken it too much to heart.

As it relates to blogging, it's honestly one of the reasons why I gave up the idea of trying to grow my blog and social media accounts into a business. I took several classes in the beginning, and all the focus on numbers and growing your followers, and things like algorithms, and the best time of day to post on each social media platform to get more likes quickly overwhelmed me. And please know that I'm not negating the experts, because they are all successful bloggers supporting themselves and their families solely upon the income they generate from their own blogs. It is a proven science and it does work, I just discovered that it wasn't going to work for me, at least not any time soon. After several months of trying to write posts, take blog-worthy pictures, keep up with all the times I needed to post on social media, and assuring that I even had anything remotely interesting to share, I gave up. In spite of the fact that I've been told for more than half of my life that I should write, it all felt very heavy and I realized that it was quickly becoming about me. My God-breathed gift for writing was now hard, because somewhere along the way I had bought into the lie that the outcome was on me.

Now don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that we are responsible to grow and put to use the talents and gifts that God has entrusted to us. I wouldn't want to be the one who buried my talents in the dirt. But I believe that if God has called met to something, while I am responsible for making the effort, the outcome rests solely with Him. I could follow every algorithm, post on social media at all the right times, and write a post for my blog every day, and I still have no control over how many people actually read, like, share or comment on my posts, and if those numbers are small, especially in the beginning, I need to be ok with that. Because my growth rate is not determined by the world, but by God. Who gets to say if I only get five likes on an Instagram post that I'm not making progress?  No one. Because what God has gifted in me, He will grow in me, and in you! It was His gift and purpose from the beginning, and we are the ones who make it about us when we lament over our posts not going viral. Personally, for me, I hope that never happens.

I don't know that I will ever generate a dollar from blogging, much less an income that would support me. But I do know that if God is in this, as I believe He is, there is nothing I can do to stop it, so long as I continue to make much of Him, and little of me. For now I'm content with where I'm at and with being what the world may deem as "small" in the big world of blogging and social media. Progress is progress, even when it's slow. The author reminds us of David, who was anointed by Samuel twenty-one years before he became king over all of Israel. In the mean time, he was a shepherd and a musician, which to the world may have seemed less, or small. For David the number was 21, and I am certain that there were times when he counted those years, and questioned. But the truth is, David was already a king, even in the fields watching over his flock, because God had said he would be. Just as I am already successful, to whatever degree He has already established, and it will come in His time.

So in whatever way you feel small today, my friends. Claim the promises, embrace your calling, and believe that because God has willed it so, that you already are! Regardless of the numbers, in spite of how little progress the world reminds you that you have made. We are the instruments though which His purpose and plan are carried out, but the outcome has been established since the dawn of creation. Rest in that, and live at peace.

Embracing small,

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