I was listening to Annie Downs’ podcast yesterday as she interviewed comedian John Crist. They shared plenty of jokes, but they also talked about the hard stuff. Singleness as Christians in their 30s. Going through therapy and taking time away to deal with burnout. And then they discussed this idea that we as humans all want to be known and loved.
We all, at our core, want to be fully known and fully loved.
We want others to see us and to pay attention to us. But that’s not enough. We want to be loved, deeply and intimately. We want people to experience the comfort and assurance of being completely loved and completely known.
Both Annie and John are relatively famous. They laughed about people wanting to date them, thinking they really know them because they follow them on social media or have watched their videos. And then John said something that hit me pretty hard:
"Remember back in the day on Instagram when you had 9 likes and it would list everyone's name? And then when you got to 10, it would just say 10 likes? It was like, that was it. That was like, oh yeah we got a good one. Then it became 100, then it became 1000 and 10,000... I'm doing the same thing that my little nephew is doing that Kim Kardashian is doing... I wonder what it would be like to get 2 million likes. I bet that feels way better. No, it doesn't. It feels just the same… The 10 to 12 likes is probably better. The first one was probably better... Everyone is convinced that the next place to get is it."
He said how the best comedy show he ever did wasn’t the sold-out arena of 15,000 people. It was the 15 family members gathered around the table for Thanksgiving dinner.
Well, that hit me like a ton of bricks.
I’m looking at my goals for 2018 — write more blog posts, do more freelance work, get my writing out there — and I’m thinking I haven’t really met any of them. We’re a full quarter in, and even with my beautiful Powersheets planner, I’m still not sure I’m working toward those goals.
I haven’t blogged in a month. Yes, part of that is because of time. My job is much busier now, I’m commuting every day, and I’m planning our wedding. Yet at the same time, I’ve managed to power through countless episodes of Friends and snooze my alarm clock more times than not.
My issue isn’t lack of time or busyness. My issue is fear.
I fear no one will read this. I see the numbers on my analytics going down and down, and then I think, What’s the point? I fear my words won’t resonate. I fear I’ll keep writing in this little space, going along doing my thing and that my words will never get out to a greater audience.
The fear is crippling. The fear prevents me from using my God-given gift to share His truth. God didn’t ask me to speak to a million people or to have 10,000 followers on Instagram. God asked me to use my gift and to be obedient to the call He has placed on my life as a writer.
He wants me to show up to the people who are already here. Show up for the people He’s placed in my life. Keep writing. Keep using this gift.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” - Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
When I’m not writing, I feel like I’m in a slump. You know how people who are extroverts say they become energized by being around people? And introverts say they gain energy by being alone? That’s how it is for me with writing. Writing allows me to be more in tune with God. Writing reminds me of my identity in Christ. When I’m writing, I never feel like I should be doing something else — because I know this is what I’m supposed to do.
And then I remember that God fully knows me and fully loves me. He knows me in all my sin, all my brokenness, and all my mess. He sees the anxiety, the eating disorder, the guilt, and the shame. Still, He loves me in a way no one else ever can. Not my husband, not my blog readers, not my Instagram followers. No one else can love the way He loves.
Read Psalm 139. You’ve probably heard these words before. We women especially love to proclaim this psalm as an affirmation about ourselves. Except it’s not about us; it’s about God. Author and Bible study teacher Jen Wilkin challenged all of us at a women’s event last month to read this psalm with an emphasis on Lord, God, and You each time we read it. Go ahead:
This psalm isn’t about us. It’s about God. He loves me completely, and He knows me better than I know myself. This is a reckless love! This is the Good Shepherd deeming each and every one of his sheep beloved. Fear has no place among this kind of love.
If you feel alone and like no one understands you, know that God does. Look to His Word. Psalm 139, Genesis 2, Galatians 4:4-7. When you accept Christ and believe in Him, your identity is no longer tethered to things of this world. Your identity stems from Christ.
Knowing my true identity frees me up to write this blog. I can write without fear. I can write and not worry whether people will read it. I can write with the deep comfort that I am already loved and known, no matter how many people “like” this blog on social media.
When you recognize you are fully known and loved in Christ, you can let go of your desire for more followers and more likes. You can surrender your prayer for a husband. You can loosen your grip on your career and your finances. You can quit playing the comparison game.
You can finally rest easy in the arms of a Father who loves you in the most intimate way imaginable.