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Jess, You’re Amazing

August 3, 2009

First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

Proverbs 16:18, The Message

When our family moved to Boston after graduating from college, Hugh and I struggled  to find a church. We visited a few places, but didn’t find a place that felt like home.

One day, our friend Cooper invited us to his church. “You’ll love this place,” he told us, eyes sparkling as he handed us a glossy invitation. “Seriously. You have to come at least once.”

We visited the next Sunday and were blown away by the experience. I’d never been to a more organized, engaging, captivating church. Ever.

This was our new home.

Hugh and I plugged in right away.  Hugh began helping with the parking team, but I wanted to help out with something a little more exciting.  I submitted a few of my devotions to the church newsletter, and soon I was assigned to be one of their devotional writers.

It was exhilarating to see my name in print, knowing that hundreds – maybe THOUSANDS! – of people were reading my words.

After a few months, people began to recognize me on Sunday morning.  They came up to me and told me that my devotions had impacted their lives. Women I did not know began to call and email me, asking me to go out for coffee so that they could learn from me, because I was obviously so close to God.

At first I was overwhelmed with the attention, but soon I began to crave it. I loved being semi-famous in our new church. It felt so good to have a high-profile role among the thousands of church members.

Over the next year, my priorities began to change. Instead of being excited about Sunday as an opportunity to worship God, I looked forward to the attention and flattery.

One day, much to my horror, Hugh told me that he didn’t want to stay at the church. “Our family isn’t really focusing on God anymore, Jess. I mean, church seems to be all about how many friends we have…or how many people are reading your devotions.”

I exploded.

“No WAY!” I told him, ” This is the first church where I actually fit in. People love me, Hugh. They think I’m awesome!”

It is embarrassing to look back and see how consumed I was with my own “purpose”. I was so desperate for the attention of people that I began ignoring the most important relationship in my life – Jesus.

I was too busy being used by God to spend any time with Him.

Eventually I realized that the recognition I received in that brief season had become an idol. I wanted to be known more than I wanted to know the Father. I wanted love and recognition more than I wanted to hear His voice.

Now, almost eight years later, I feel like God is telling me to write again. To pursue the things on my heart that He has uniquely placed in my soul.

But I’m afraid.

What if I fail?  Or – worse – what if my pride reasserts itself, and I start waltzing into church on Sunday morning, scanning the crowd for people who will come up and flatter me?

But I must be confident in the lessons I’ve learned in the last few years. I’ve learned that seeking God first is more important then anything I can do ‘”for” Him. And I’ve learned that the real joy of being used by God comes from living in a place of desperation for Jesus, knowing He is the only one who sustains me.

So today maybe I’ll write a devotion. Maybe I’ll send it to an online publisher. Or maybe I’ll just sit a little longer this morning in His Presence, reminding myself that His voice is the only One that ever matters.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2009 8:58 am

    Thanks for the reminder. Now I’m turning off the laptop and going to meet Jesus.

  2. August 3, 2009 9:13 am

    Your words mirror my heart this morning. Even before going to the conference, I felt God impressing upon my heart to begin writing a book… a book that I felt I should have written a few years ago. I was not at She Speaks for writing, though. God called me there for speaking, why? I’m stilling praying for Him to show me. But, this book, it will expose all those things in my life, in my heart that I don’t want to share with others. The the things that I know others will judge me for and turn away from me for… but in my heart, I can hear God whispering, ‘Imagine all those that will be healed through your expiernce, imagine all those that will see through you My redemptive power.’

    My other fear, that trumps people turning from me, is the fact that I will like being known… does that make sense. I know what people say when they read my poems. I know what they say when they hear me speak… just one-on-one. I don’t want that praise for my writing, my speaking, my accomplishments to overwhelm me and override what I know God is saying. That’s to bring glory and honor to His name and His name alone.

    At the conference, I could see you, even stood close to you at one point, but you were talking and I didn’t want to interrupt…so, alas, I didn’t get to talk to you and meet you. BUMMER!

    I will be praying for you, girl. Just from reading your blog, I know that God has gifted you with special talents. I pray that through you and your yearning to walk closely with Him, He will bless others, And keep you on the path to bringing glory to His name!

  3. August 3, 2009 10:09 am

    Jess, that was so well written. I’m so glad to meet you and know that we live close.

    Now I’m turning off my dumputer…

  4. August 4, 2009 9:39 pm

    Oh, how I loved this one! See? This one came from your heart, and, even if one of these only came once a week, I’d keep coming back. Promise. It moved you, and it has moved me. Thank you.

    It was lovely to have met you at SheSpeaks. I’ll be following along your journey and watching for the ones with heart! 🙂 *wink*

  5. August 8, 2009 10:43 am

    Oh, Jess.
    You wrote my heart here. Only it’s my heart NOW. I cried myself to sleep last night. Why? Because dumb ol’ “I need people to love me and affirm me (constantly)” me is going into blog withdrawl. No comments. No, “Oh, Kimberly…I love what you wrote.” Nope. And it is harder than I thought. Like an addict getting the shakes. Sigh. Pitiful.
    I was crying mostly because I don’t want to be like this. I want Jesus to be enough…because He IS enough. I kept telling Him that I am so sorry. So sorry that I have let my need for the approval of others take over my life so much. Ugh.
    Anyways, thanks for this post. So nice to know I’m not alone in this kind of struggle.
    Love to you and your sweet transparent self,

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