Ah. Hello God.
I think this might be called facing a demon or two.
I have just been reading a post by Ann Voskamp.
Lord, you know how I feel about Ann Voskamp. You know that I follow her blog and you know that I devoured 'A Thousand Gifts' and even made notes on little sticky bits of paper (I can't ever bring myself to write in a book) and you also know how long it took me to actually open the book and start to read it.
It sat on my bookshelf for months before I opened it, and before that my copy sat lonely on a shelf in Amazon before I brought myself to order it. You know why, and now I'm admitting it. I wasn't sure that I wanted to read it.
I wish I could write like Ann Voskamp.
I wish I had her wisdom, her insights, her hotline to you. I wish I had her eyes to see and her ears to hear. I wish I had her way with words, her lyricism, her skill with a camera, and yes, her success.
I just said it, didn't I?
I know that I shouldn't compare myself with other people. You made me me, you made her her. You have different plans for the two of us and your plan for me wouldn't fit Ann and vice versa.
But...how can a farmer's wife and homeschooling mother of six write so prolifically, so beautifully, with such incisive wisdom and inspiration? How come she attends conferences and speaking engagements and makes TV programmes and keeps it all ticking over? I have two children who go to school, my house is not very clean, I don't have farm duties and I don't go out to work and the days are not long enough.
I so, so admire what she's done. When I read her blog quite often she tells me things I didn't know. She makes me see the world in a new way. She inspires me - and yet I sometimes come away feeling discouraged and I'm quite sure that is entirely the reverse of her intentions.
If it has been said before, and so much better, then why should I bother even trying?
I keep plodding on. I remind myself that it matters not the slightest bit what other people do. You don't look to me to point to anyone other than yourself. I can only use my voice to speak your words, no-one else's. I do what I do for you, not for anyone else.
Not for anyone else. Honestly.
So, then, Ann wrote this. Actually this is an excerpt from today's blog, which is a transcript of an address she gave at a conference for bloggers in America. And when I read it, I knew that it was for me.
A Prayer for Bloggers
by Ann Voskamp
I am no longer my own blogger, but Yours.
Refine me with each post how You will, rank me how You will.
Put me to service, put me to suffering.
Let me be a follower - instead of seeking followers
Lord, you and I meet up and come here most days, at some point. I don't know what I'd do without it these days. I remember the days a couple of years ago when I didn't come and chat with you this way and I wonder what I did instead (cleaning the bathroom? Surely not). Lord, it's all for you. It has always been for you, but sometimes it becomes about me, and I'm sorry. Sometimes the words try and run ahead of me and I need to slow down and listen, make sure that it's you I'm hearing, and not my own ego.
Let me post for You - or be put aside for You,
Lifted high, only for You, or brought low, all for You.
Do with me and each post whatever You will, because You alone know best.
I'm not feeling that comfortable with the 'put aside' and 'brought low' part, to be honest. Ann has more humility than I do, I think. I'm not over-sure about asking you to teach me humility, either; I'm not sure I like the sound of learning humility....
Getting myself a bit tangled up here. I can completely agree with the last bit though. You know best. Whenever I think I know best I invariably come unstuck. I'm learning.
Let me not strive but submit
Let me not compete but care
Let me not desire hits but holiness
Can't I have holiness and hits? I know, I'm sorry. I'm being flippant.
Lord, I just want to be with you. I want to be more like you. I want to speak you and point to you. I want people to hear you, through me. I want to be a part of your Plan. I want the world to be a different place because I've been in it and I've done as you asked me to. It isn't about me, though you know my heart and the longings you have placed there. Dreams and hopes are there and fears too.
I trust you, Lord.
And if I have to choose hits or holiness, let it be holiness.
Let my blog be full of You, and let it be empty of me.
Let me crave all things of You, let me care nothing of this world.
Let my words be focus only on the greatest of audiences: You.
And you are enough.
My I write not for subscribers...but only for Your smile.
You are enough. Over and over again you have been enough. I don't doubt it. The world creeps in and steals my attention and I compare myself with others and never, ever, does any good come from that. I want to make you smile.
May my daily affirmation be in the surety of my atonement not the size of my audience.
May my identity be in the innumerable graces of Christ, never, God forbid, the numbers of my comments.
May the only words that matter in my life not be the ones I write on a screen - but the ones I live with my skin.
I freely and heartily yield every sentence, every title, every post, every comment...or no comments...
all to Your pleasure and perfect will.
The words don't come from me. I know that. I ask you every time to give me words, to show me what you want me to say. Sometimes I know that you answered my prayer, sometimes I'm not so sure. I am a work in progress; I know that I get it wrong.
Lord, it's all for you. I'm laying it right in front of you.
My only fame is that I bear Your name
My only glory is the gift of Your Grace
My only readership, Your eyes that seek to and fro to find
Make this so. Lord...
Oh, Lord God, make it so. Help me get past the enormous and all-encompassing desire to please other people. I so want people to want me, to understand, to see, to tell me it's alright, that I've done alright. That I'm not a failure. I worry so much about what people think, and I dread failure and humiliation and the death of my dreams.
And yet... I play to an audience of One. The only One that matters. Help me to learn this lesson deep in my heart and not just in my head.
Yawhew, you alone are my God, not Google
Jesus, you alone are my Comforter, not comments
So be it, today, yesterday, and every post to come.
Amen and Amen. Oh yes. You know my heart, Father God. You are enough.
O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
This is my prayer I have made on earth, over this keyboard...
let it be ratified in heaven.
In Jesus' name,
You know, if I'd been at that conference I'd have had my eyes closed in prayer and the tears would have squeezed their way through.
Sometimes it's hard, you know.
I know that you know. I sit here and chat with you and I pour out my heart and I ask and I wait and I moan and I confide and I laugh and I hope - and I taptaptap and I press 'Publish' on the little orange button and it all feels very intimate and private. There are days when I can't find any words and there are days when I have so much in my head that I can't get it down fast enough and precious ideas dissolve and disappear because I can't pin them down.
Then, just now and again, someone says to me, 'I know just how you feel' or, 'I thought it was only me' and it makes my day, because I know that you have spoken. Not me, but you.
And I praise you because you could get your message across in a multitude of ways, any way you choose, and yet you chose me, and it blows me away.
You are enough. Nothing else matters.
Lord, bless this wise lady in all the different ways that you can bless her. Her words are reaching millions and every last one of them points to her Saviour. Help me to listen without comparing. To have a heart ready to learn and to pray this prayer every time I open the lid of my computer.