When no one likes your Facebook status

I am looking back, and I see her small form sitting on a low stool in front of the shelves of books.  She is pulling them out with her child hands and noticing their covers behind the thickness of her glasses.  She is happy in the surroundings of all of these words that lead her into other worlds where she can get lost and found in the imaginations of their authors.  She is dreaming amidst the quiet of the library and the smell of old paper books.  I am the only one who notices her sitting there in the midst of her reverie.  I am the only one who shares her quiet adventure of someday seeing her name on the spine of a book.  I am looking at the little girl, me.

The morning is humid, but the temperatures are cool enough to keep a good pace.  My headphones are in, but I don't notice the music that is playing.  I begin to think as I so often do during a run, and my thoughts begin to organize themselves as if I were writing their story.

I think about the little girl in the library, and how she wanted to be seen.  I remember longings in her heart to be known and cherished for who she was, and how painful it was to be disregarded and seemingly rejected.  It became easier to hide in the shadows of silence than to experience the blows of criticism.  She felt things deeply, and carried the scars of her wounds as a reminder of how she didn't matter.  And this is how she quietly wrapped herself in the solitude of a cocoon with her dreams and her thoughts and her ideas tucked in beside her.

And one brave day in her third decade of life, despite her best efforts to decline, she allowed a bit of herself to be seen when she shared a poem she had written for a Christmas program.  A short time later, through a bit of encouragement, she started a blog that she never realized would be the catalyst for change in the deepest parts of her.

Week after week she would write small parts of her story that she exposed to the world.  The joy she received in creating them was equally matched and sometimes overpowered with the fear in sharing them.  Each post was followed by the internal questions of "Do you accept me?"  "Does what I say matter?'  "Am I of any value to you?"  "Am I making sense?"  "Can I even write?"  She would watch the number of reads, and how many "likes" she received, and try to figure out if it was worth the physical and emotional effort that she exerted.

There were days of great disappointment when it seemed no one was interested, and she would call to her husband and hope to find some answer to her questions of worth.  Sometimes she would just keep it to herself, because she was tired of hearing him say that numbers don't matter because we can't know how God is using our obedience.

She quit the blog a dozen times or more in her head, but never out loud.  There was always something inside of her that couldn't let go.  To say goodbye to the difficulty of dealing with the hard stuff would also mean that she was letting go of an outlet that was drawing her closer to her Creator.  She felt more alive than she ever had before, and even in the imprisonment of her desired acceptance she was beginning to find freedom in loving the person God had created her to be.

A mechanical voice speaks through my headphones to tell me I'm on my second mile.  I realize that I'm going too fast to get any distance in at this pace.   I wipe sweat from my brow and the tear trail from my cheeks as I look around and hope that all of my neighbors are still asleep.  My legs are on autopilot and the run is just a means to think longer and harder than I might if I were at home surrounded by my kids.

And then I hear another voice, a whisper.  I can feel the presence of its owner right inside of me.  It is gentle yet firm and lovingly persistent.  It is the same question my husband has asked me many times, and yet it's like I'm hearing it new.  I receive it differently.  "If I am the only one who likes what you write, will you still do it for me?"

Up until that very moment, I did not want to answer this question directly and so I ignored it.  My flesh would cry out to be accepted by the world, and if the world would accept me, I would write for it, and if it didn't I would tuck my desire into the cocoon and hide with it there.

I hear it again, and it is seems more of an invitation than a challenge.  It feels strange to let a part of you die especially when it has been nurtured and cared for.  But there on the road I surrendered to the death of my desire.  I sacrificed my need to be accepted by saying yes to a God who loves me and my brokenness.  I know this will be a process for me, and with his strength I will wake each morning and die all over again.


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