It just keeps coming up!
In mid-September, I found myself noticing blog posts, Facebook statuses and tweets on Twitter that seemed to lack a lot of authenticity (from my perspective). I’d read what was written and my first take-away — no matter how good the message — was, “This is more about them promoting themselves than about ________.”
I read from a few news sites and blogs each day; I check my email twice a day, my Facebook timeline a couple of times a day, and I jump in on Twitter for the newsfeed periodically. You probably do much of the same. Social media and internet news & info has become a big part of our lives, hasn’t it?
Most of the people I follow on my Hope Surrendered Facebook page and on Twitter are good, Christ-loving authors, writers, leaders, pastors, ministry directors and believers I started to follow because their work reflected their walk with the Lord in such a moving way. I’m not sure what was happening in September, but with many of the blogs, posts, statuses and tweets I was seeing, it just seemed to be about THEM, not the God they professed to be serving. Was it just September? Was it just me? I seemed to have experienced a shift where their posts were not primarily about reflecting their walk with the Lord, but about promoting themselves by promoting their walk with the Lord. It irked me.
Pretty judgmental, huh? Yes. I was.
I even posted about it on my Hope Surrendered facebook page at the end of September with a blurb saying, “Today, I am struggling a bit with what I see out there with other Christian bloggers and writers. I have had to ask the question, “When you press “Tweet,” “Post,” or “Publish,” are you promoting yourself or promoting how the Lord is working through you?”
I just didn’t sense authenticity. I liked what they had to say, but I didn’t like the self-promotion that seemed to be going on along with what they had to say. In my mind, it had become bigger than what they were saying.
Then, I realized I needed to stop.
I needed to stop, because I needed to check myself to make sure they were not me.
We all do it. We post our selfies, our blogs, our statuses, our tweets and our photos not to just express ourselves, but to gain the attention of others. We label it as PR, marketing, promotion, and we justify it as necessary to get our word out.
Was I allowing myself to get out of hand with this? Or, was it just them?
Where is the line?
What is too much?
Is it obvious that I’m trying to balance it out with other things so people don’t see through the promotion?
I found myself asking these questions and searching my own “promotions” for the answers.
But, then I searched me. I searched my heart and looked at my intent. I didn’t like what I was starting to see.
I found myself writing some really deep and profound posts. They were good, but they were GOOD because I had allowed Him to work through me and was willing to share His work in me with others. …nothing wrong with that, as most of that GOOD was because of Him, not me.
But, what wasn’t good was how many times a day I’d check back to my posts to see if someone “liked” them, “retweeted” them, “favorited” them, “shared” them, or commented on them. That wasn’t about Him at all, but about me. …not good. …not good at all.
And, I stopped. I just stopped writing. I had to. I had to figure this out.
My purpose in starting Hope Surrendered last April was about being able to share the Lord with others so they might find hope through my struggles, my attempts at obedience (to the Lord), my solutions (that came from Him), and my not-even-close-to-perfect walk. I wanted others to see that no matter what challenges would be found on their path, hope, peace and joy were truly possible.
I was doing that. I took the time to go back and read and study my posts, statuses and tweets. Yes, there was a bit of self promotion in there to get His words out through me, but it didn’t cross any lines. My posts were true to my original purpose.
Any blogger, writer, author, publisher or business owner out there will tell you that marketing, promotion, stats and readership are important. Yes, they are, and I don’t disagree with that fact, but I was skewing my after-posting focus. It was beginning to shift away from my hope where others would see His purpose in their life and toward a focus of checking upon my success. I was crossing a line even if it wasn’t reflected in my posts.
I was crossing a line.
As good as my intentions were, there was a level of pride present in my head when I found myself needing to check and recheck the potential promotion and stats that might have happened after I’d post something.
I needed to stop in order to be able to search myself. For the long-run, this writing venture would only be as successful as my continued foundational reasons for getting started.
What wasn’t ok and what I needed to fully realize was that this writing venture was supposed to be bigger than me. It was supposed to be about Him. That was one of the main reasons I didn’t attach my own name to Hope Surrendered. …I felt it was irrelevant WHO I was; what was relevant was WHO I HAD BECOME through my walk with the Lord.
And…there’s another thing you should know. No one other than my husband knew who Hope Surrendered was at that point. No one. I thought I could be a writer known only as Hope Surrendered without having to give her a real name even though she had a real identity.
And, that’s where I got caught up in the authenticity-thing. I think that’s why the Lord brought out my sense of irritation with others’ promotions. What had started as an irked feeling about seeing how others promoted themselves (by promoting their really good works), led to me realize that I was falling into a trap in my mind by checking and re-checking my stats. I knew it would only be a matter of time until they were me from a promo perspective. If that would come to be, then what I was writing about would be more about selling MY ideas, MY accomplishments, and MY solutions to others by propping ME and my hopes up as the purpose of Hope Surrendered. I could see that coming, and I realized I needed to proceed with great caution…if He would have me proceed at all. I am sure the Lord knew all of this, too, thus the reason for him bringing it all up by showing me what irked me (He has a way of doing that, doesn’t He?)
And…then I realized by keeping ME out of Hope Surrendered, I really wasn’t being fully authentic. I really wasn’t being accountable to anyone else because Hope was mostly a mystery writer.
What a realization!
For some of you, Hope Surrendered is just something you read, but for others, it has become one way of helping them to find hope.
For me, it’s not just about words on a page or stats on a spreadsheet; it’s about reflecting the Lord’s work in my life to others.
My time away from writing has shown me a renewed calling, a sense of purpose, a need for humility, a need for balance between getting my work out there and trusting He will put it into the hands that need it, and about being true to who I am.
So, I’m back to writing. This time, though, I’m committed to showing you more about who I am and how I work through my own hopes and surrenders with the Lord. I’m also opening up Hope Surrendered to my family, friends and acquaintances who might be curious about her connection to me…and about my connection to her.
Doing so will keep me accountable to others and to Him.
(Forgive me, dear friends and family…it does take a little promotion to let you know what’s been going on with me through Hope Surrendered!)
Doing so will help to reflect my desire for authenticity.
As Believers, we are called to live in a way that pleases the Lord: “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1 Thessalonians 4:7)
In contemplating why the Lord allowed me to walk through all of these authenticity thoughts, I’m brought to Romans 12:2 in which Paul warns us:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is
—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I am realizing that the Lord allowed me to contemplate all of this in order to, once again, see His ways above my ways and His Will above my own will.
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