Have you seen this article? It says that tv shows geared towards 9-11 year old kids teach that fame, above all else, is what is most important, most valuable. Yes, media shapes culture, but it also reflects it. With the rise of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, it makes sense that having your little entourage of friends (and sometimes complete strangers) 'follow' you, 'like' you, and have instant and constant access to you would make you feel like you have what it takes to be famous.
I'm writing this little ol' blog post here because what I'm about to say is so important that it just HAS to be shared with the masses (2 readers, on a good week. Hey guys. How's it hanging?).
The article brought up a thoughtful question: "When being famous and rich is much more important than being kind to others, what will happen to kids as they form their values and their identities?"
I think most people just want to be known. They hope that who they are is not only acceptable, but admired, adored, wanted. Treasured, cherished, thought of. I would imagine that most people have a small core group of friends (not necessarily the 200 online acquaintances on your Facebook friends list. I mean, honest to goodness, real-life friends who you communicate with on a somewhat regular basis) that you know and who know you, and ya'll hang out anyway.
And I think that people don't want fame just for fame's sake. I'd imagine most people don't want to be known for their breakdowns or failings. People admire and want to be like Oprah and Taylor Swift. They make fun of and pity Charlie Sheen. See the difference?
For the last few weeks or so, God has been shining a harsh light on my heart about my own need to be seen, known, admired, and wanted. I struggle with pride and am prone to fantasize, so I end up engaging in these scenarios in my head where a friend comes over and raves about my cooking or how crafty I am or how smart and funny and happy my kids are. I envision myself having conversations with people where they sit there, silenced by awe, shaking their heads with admiration, wondering how in the world I do it all.
(I can hardly believe I'm telling you guys this stuff. I just want to be real. I don't do it all, just so you know. I can't. NOT EVEN CLOSE. and what I do end up accomplishing is normally done sloppily and only at the last possible minute. But these are my fantasies, remember? I've always been like this. When I was little, I used to imagine myself being interviewed by Oprah. yes, really. That's how narcissistic I am. I also used to make up forms for me to fill out. I had to list my name, my age, my birthday, my favorite color, my hero, my least favorite food, my best subject in school. I just wanted all this info out there. You know, in case anyone wanted to know.)
Along the same lines, I also find myself entertaining thoughts of grabbing a man's attention. I don't do anything about these thoughts, but it can seriously consume me. I'm not willing to do anything to jeopardize my marriage or anyone else's marriage. But I suppose part of me wants to know if I've still got it, and part of me likes to get caught up in the idea of being wooed. It's fun to be wooing someone. You bring your "A" game and don't share a bathroom and never let them see you sweaty or upset. I think that is why I do it. Besides the obvious 'I-am-such-a-sinnner' part. I want someone to pursue me, to want to spend time with me, to work to get to know me, and to like what they see and hear enough to be willing to stick around even when I'm being a fickle, narcissistic jerk with a nasty wad of a heart.
Women (and probably some men too) watch these romantic-comedies and read these romance novels and love to get caught up in someone being romanced. They love watching people fall in love. I've got to admit that I've watched two whole seasons of the Bachelor/Bachelorette for this very reason. Everyone loves a good wedding. Less people celebrate a good marriage. That is, until a couple has been married 50 years or so. Then it rocks! It's admirable, it's inspiring, it's beautiful. But between the "I do" and the "I'd do it all over again, Baby!" there is a whole lot of hard work and crying yourselves to sleep and snotty attitudes and having conversations while one is peeing in front of the other. It's hard to remember that I am adored by my husband when I know how bad my morning breath can be. It's hard to feel special when we're both so tired by the end of the day that we end up turning on the tv and tuning each other out. It's hard to remember that he wants me when I look around me and don't see how in the world my body could be attractive compared to what he sees when he stops to grab a coffee at Starbucks. But he does. He comes home to ME. The second that he walks out the door of his office, he's on the phone with me, bitching about his day or telling me about some problem he single-handedly solved. He calls ME. He doesn't call someone else. He doesn't shut down and keep that part of his life from me (even though I really only understand about 20% of what he's saying. It's all 'geek' to me). Occasionally, he brings me flowers and then says stuff like "I picked these because they were the most beautiful. Like you." He and I sign "I love you" with our hands when we drive away from each other or when we see each other in church across the room. And when I'm not feeling well, he takes over dinner duties and lets me stay in bed, and he brings me soup and medicine and comes in to keep me company. If that isn't being wooed, I don't know what is!
It's hard to feel loved when my sin is so exposed, and yet that's exactly what God does. He LOVES me. He is wooing me. Did you see that sunset the other day? Did you catch the scent of that rain? Remember the vividness of that random patch of wildflowers? Didn't that act of kindness move you to tears? He doesn't care if I'm all made up and if my butt doesn't look like that 19 year old's butt who hasn't had 3 kids and doesn't know what spending a full day with spit up dried on the back of her shirt without her knowing is like. He loves ME. Warts and all. Because He loves His Son, and I am COVERED by Him. Covered in speghetti-o's and kids' boogers too, but covered by Jesus all the same. and that, folks, is what matters.
Yes, there is a whole generation of kids thinking that if they can learn a few sweet dance moves or songs on the piano and put it up on YouTube or Facebook, that hordes of people will come banging down their door within a week, begging them to be on some new show that will reveal to the world just how incredible they truly are. and then those boys or girls that made fun of them in gym will feel so ashamed.
But that rarely happens (I can't say it never happens. Isn't Beiber a YouTube success story?). and haven't you seen American Idol? I mean, yes, the contestants who win the title of Idol have worked their butts off to get there and have some genuine talent and stage presence. But then there are also those contestants who became Internet superstars because their audition tape was put into the bloopers reel and put into heavy rotation. Their video goes viral and a star is born. Short-lived, but their star shines for a time nonetheless.
And it's not just those who are growing up in this easy-access culture of "friends". Like I just admitted, I too struggle with lusting after admiration. Even though I know that if I am going to boast, I am supposed to boast in the Lord.
But here I am, jacking up my own self, desperate for more people to notice and appreciate me.
God knows me. How quickly I forget. How quickly I become dissatisfied with God's supreme, never-ending, never-failing love and turn to the world with its short-lived, conditional, self-seeking and exploitive affection. How quick I am to belittle the commitment and admiration of my sweet husband. His love is more than enough and yet I still fantasize about more. It doesn't matter if my walls have been artfully decorated, what matters is whether my life adorns God with worship. It doesn't matter if my kids make me look like I'm Captain Awesome Mom, what matters is do they know the Lord? It doesn't matter if some random dude in the car next to me notices that I curled my hair this morning, what matters is that my husband loves me, and I can trust that he will come home to me. and that man has seen the good, the bad and the totally disgusting, and he STILL wants me! It doesn't even matter if you read this blog post and think I am the grossest sinner in the world. or worse - you could think, "eh. Another boring post by that wretch who is totally normal and doesn't stand out in any way and isn't worthy of any book deals." What matters is that I am recognizing this crap about me and acknowledging that it's wrong. I am admitting to God that I am wrong and need to repent and that I need to focus more on living a life of worship of God instead of this sick self-worship crap. What matters is whether I'm willing to be honest enough with my sweet, precious, gifts from Heaven, friends to admit that I'm wrong and that I'm struggling and ashamed and could use some support and some prayers. and maybe someone out there will be able to relate, and we can help each other out.
If God gave you a beautiful singing voice, sing His praises. If God made you crafty, make your home a comfortable place to gather together your family and your friends. If He blessed you richly with the gift of words, get out there and tell the world that God is good. If you made you good with numbers, praise Him with them. It all goes back to Him.
If you feel like you don't have anything to offer, offer your heart. Warts and all. Offer your yuck. Offer your good. Offer your sad. Offer your success. Offer your mess. Offer your fear. Offer your doubt. Offer it all.
It's not about me. Or you. Or you or you or even you (wow, you are wonderful!). It's about Him. It's always been about Him. It will always BE about Him. He is the only one who deserves your praise. He is the only one that deserves my praise. It's all about Him. Let us be kind and point people to Him. Let our lives reflect our devotion to God. Let us not try to bring attention to ourselves if we are going to shine anything besides that sweet Light of Jesus. And if we are going to fantasize, let it be about the day to come, where every knee will bow.