One month ago, my book launched. I felt like a tiny pet goldfish being ushered into the ocean. Much of the past 30 days have gone something like this:
Wow. Look at what that author is doing.
Whoa. Look at how that author is succeeding.
Look at how this author is ranked in this book's category. Look how many followers that author has.
Ugh. Grr. Blah. Booh.
Wow. This author has a webinar. That one is speaking at this big conference.
Ugh. Waaaah. Vomit. Waaaaah.
Yup. That's my ugly heart. That's my flesh vs. my spirit. My spirit says, "Yay! I'm so happy for that author. His message is so important." My flesh says, "Grrr, why can't I get those gigs!"
People ask me, out of the kindness of their hearts: "How did your book launch go?" I honestly am so thankful to have the conversation but I never know what to say. "Good, I think. I really don't know any rubrics for what to measure success by, so I really don't know what I'm looking for or what I'm doing." I feel like I've been going through a postpartum depression of sorts. Like I birthed this book, and now what? I have no clue. Do I go at this fully or find a part-time job? Do I put all of my efforts here or there or way over there? I'm trying different things, contacting local pastors, responding to interesting articles online, trying to build a social media following (that arouses the sea monster deep within me). But yes, the ocean of twitter often seems to drown me in thought. It's not all negative, but much of it is. The comparing game is real, and I swear like a strong undercurrent, it could take me away if I don't find my anchor in The Word. Galatians 6 says:
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (MSG)
I need to write that on the tablet around my heart. Tattoo it on my face. And The Word says that in my weakness He is strong. So I have to stop being afraid of weakness. I have to be confident in the fact that when I don't know what's going on, He is strong. He does. He's the Captain, and He doesn't want me to tell Him how to drive or where to go or push Him out of the boat so I can drive it myself. But my flesh wants those things. He wants me to sit, relax, and enjoy the boat ride. Relaxation that sounds gooooooood. That's enticing even for my flesh. But I can make my own rest right? I can create a good foundation of rest by emailing all the people I think might be interested in my book. I can create my own rest by scheduling webinars and speaking engagements. I can create a better rest if I do this myself. Move over Captain. I'm more educated. I speak two languages. I know better than You.
Grr. Crap. Ugh.
When I try comparing myself to my Captain, I'll never win. But I want to win. Always. I.want.to.win. My flesh fights the Gospel I claim to profess. Lose your life and you'll gain it. That's stupid. No really. That's dumb. This Gospel is whack.
I once heard that most sin stems from distrust. And I think whoever said that was onto something. I have to believe in the work God has given me. I have to not be impressed with myself. I have to not compare myself to others. I have to take responsibility for doing the creative best I can with my own life. I have to trust that the book I wrote is a good product. Not the best product. Not a horrible product (These are the two extremes my flesh likes to teeter totter between). It is good because it's a revelation of looking at short-term missions through a filter of The Gospel as I know it. It's not a perfect filter. It's not written by a perfect author. It's not so many things, and it is so many things.
This is, yet again, a picture of our spiritual journeys. God gives us a work to do. We sink ourselves into it. But then we get impressed with ourselves or we get depressed with ourselves because we start comparing. Instead of taking responsibility for our own creative best, we take responsibility for doing a creative better than. Our flesh tells us it doesn't matter if we are doing our own creative best. It matters if I do something better than him or more creative than her. And we fall prey to the comparative trap. We drown in the social media ocean.
O Captain, my Captain, throw me a lifesaver once again. "O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills." Let me remember, O Captain, my Father, this is all for you. For you the flag is flung. For you this book was written. For you my life is lived. Let me embrace weakness so that Your strength is made perfect.