“It takes more courage to become a nobody than it does to remain a somebody.”
I’m sure these aren’t the exact words I read but this is the message that was implanted in my brain several years ago. I can’t tell you who wrote it or where I read it but I can tell you that God sent that message just for me. At the time of reading it I was steeping in my own self-importance. I thought I was a Somebody. Ministry had slowly morphed into a race of numbers. How many followers did I have? How many parties was I invited too? How many friends with big platforms was I surrounding myself with? It was all about me and how much I was gathering, instead of Christ and how much I was giving. I knew it was wrong and I wanted out.
I had often recalled these words when I was feeling dejected or not big enough. I knew something had to change but I didn’t have the courage. I didn’t know what it meant to be a Nobody and so I started praying. It was an occasional prayer, the kind you pray because God is pulling it out of you, the kind that you know if you commit to then God might doing something really big and that’s just way too scary.
I am very well aware that in the world of celebrity Christians I really was not a Somebody. With a platform under five thousand followers, no best selling books, no national speaking tour, I certainly didn’t fall into the category of “well known author” the way that I had hoped for.
Who we think ourselves to be when receiving daily praise and attention is not who we are once the world is silent. What I needed was silence. What I needed was to be shown who I had become.
When I first started writing my goal was to serve. I wanted others to know the same sweet Jesus that I had come to know. I longed for prisoners of the law to be set free. I had no platform; I had no books, just a computer and a story.
I knew people. Some of my very best friends were Somebodies (and they still are). They introduced me to other Somebodies. Soon those Somebodies were texting me, telling me how great I was, inviting me to dine and party with other Somebodies. I wrote for their blogs. I promoted their work. I defended their honor. And by simple reasoning I figured if I was hanging with the Somebodies then I guess I was a Somebody, just a smaller Somebody.
Spiral into Freedom
Things were looking good from the outside as I was running a ministry, writing a book, blogging for larger ministries, speaking and podcasting. The deeper I got into the world of being known the more I had moved away from my initial goal of writing which was to write in response to what Christ has done, not for a response from others. It was a pretty simple mission statement that was so easily drowned out as I plunged forward into seeking the approval of others. I had gone from writing boldly for Christ to writing boldly for attention. I wanted to say what nobody else dared to say and I had a group of fans egging me on, hungry for the next dose of “shock them with your sin, then point them to Jesus.”
I don’t think that anything I wrote was wrong. I don’t believe that I was unbiblical, or unfaithful to the truth of the gospel. It was not the content of my work, but the heart behind it. I know that God has used my ministry to help others. I also know that I became a person that I didn’t want to be. I had given up on my prayer to become Nobody. I enjoyed the life I was living and the opportunities I was receiving. I wanted to push forward to be a bigger Somebody.
God is the finest of unravelers. I know this to be true because I have witnessed it over and over again in my own life as well as others. It is a long process but a loving one at that. He can turn Somebodies into Nobodies in a matter of seconds.
I had tried many times to take a break from social media. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t live without knowing what was being said. I couldn’t stay away for fear that people would forget about me. Not only was I not able to pull away from the chatter for my soul’s sake but I also had a new book being released that I needed to market. It wasn’t the right time to become a Nobody. But is it ever?
My platform deconstruction was not planned. I would say that it started by accident but as we all know nothing is an accident with God. I had been messing around with my Facebook account settings and before I knew it my page was gone. Vanished. I panicked (which is a sign of what I had shifted my hope to). I spent an entire week trying to figure out how to regain it. Thousands of followers lost on the brink of a book release. This was one of my biggest marketing tools. How would anyone know my book was available? How would anyone know my book was out? I started a new page and messaged as many people as I could think of to tell them what happened and where they could find me. I even paid to promote my page. I was desperate for likes.
Six months passed and I continued to be swept up in the online drama of Twitter and Facebook. It deeply affected my mood. One tweet could ruin my whole day. By this time I had marketed my book and the excitement was dying down. I wasn’t gaining the opportunities that I had with my first book because I had broken up with many of the Somebodies that had been promoting my work. The world was screaming at me to work harder, promote myself more, put myself out there, yada, yada, yada, and God was gently nudging me to find rest, to not worry that the interviews and speaking engagements weren’t coming. God loved me for me, not for the words I wrote.
It was after a two hour-long meeting with my pastor that I decided I should pull the plug. A number of issues had resurfaced regarding one of the Sombodies I had involved myself with. There was too much pain, too many stories that I wanted to add to, too much fighting and anger. I was tired of being silenced. I was on the verge of voicing my pain in ways that would have brought nothing but anger and zero of Christ to an already volatile situation. And so I did it. Actually, I made my husband do it. I sat next to him on the bed as he pressed, “Delete account” and then changed my password. There was no turning back. I melted in tears. It was a bigger loss than I thought it was going to be.
Really? Crying over a Twitter account? It’s true. I had gotten so wrapped up in building and maintaining an online platform that I fell apart when it was gone. I felt that I had lost my identity. How would I ever get another publisher? How would I network? How would I know what to be angry about?! All of these thoughts consumed me for days. It was a detox. I had shifted my hope in Christ to hope in people, numbers, and platforms. I missed the likes and the retweets and the praise. It was hard to be alone with my four kids serving in a right-in-front-of-my-nose sort of way. My world felt so small and nobody was giving me a thumbs up every time I wiped the counter top, cooked a meal, or gave a hug. It was then that I learned who I had become and I was glad to see her leave.
So What Now?
I have spent over a year away from Twitter and Facebook. I changed my Instagram account to private and kicked just about everyone off that wasn’t an in-real-life friend or family member. Sorry!
I have been keeping my world small.
I’ve found joy.
I will be a Somebody to my family and a Nobody to the world. I will keep wiping the counters, cooking the meals, and giving the hugs. I’ll write when I’m inspired. I’ll speak locally when I am asked. I will love my neighbor. I will mess up, repent, and rest in a Savior who loves me and approves of me regardless of numbers. I will be a Nobody because He is Somebody on my behalf.