I biked around Amsterdam on a beat up bike like I was a local again. I lived & worked there in my 20’s with a Dutch ministry called Tot Heil Des Volks. Amsterdam is a city covered in stickers, street art, graffiti & dog poop. As I parked my bike on a canal bridge, a small sticker caught my eye. It read, “Will we ever be satisfied?”
An honest soul was crying out to the city, the cosmos, to humanity, will we ever be satisfied?
This city is where any sin you want is free to partake in: prostitution, drugs, alcohol, the “fun” nightlife, etc… yet here on this bridge was the question.
Will all this sin ever be enough to fill our empty souls? Will what this world offers to fill our empty soul ever truly work, really?
I’ve been on a compulsive roller coaster ride as of late. I think its something all artist, creators and ‘above the radar’ types deal with. The temporary satisfaction of people validating what you are doing and the anguish of being rejected. When you pour out your heart into something you’ve created and it’s not well-received, dismissed or ignored, it hurts. Social media keeps track of every result like a calculator of clout or love or impact. Every like, every share, every listen, every view, and every comment is like a tally mark or a ding. You expose your heart, your God-given glory, your true self to the world only to have the response not be enough to deeply satisfy, or worse, ignored.
This roller coaster for me looked like compulsively looking at my statistics for The Kindling Fire and before that the Troy&Kathy blog multiple times a day. A new subscriber, a comment, a like, a visitor, a view would be like a little mountain top experience. Or, after hours without a peep from social media about what I was creating or putting out there, a deep dark valley. Up and Down I went for months. I cannot imagine those in their teens and twenties whose way of life is this and they don’t even know you have a choice to get off the ride.
What was I doing on my phone all those hours of the day any way? Searching for any movement in the social media world that would validate me, make me feel I mattered. Like a mirror, in which I would appear larger than life one minute and non-existent/invisible the next. I searched like a castaway for movement on the social media horizon to validate my self worth.
I finally came to the Lord and told him I was not happy. This behavior, this constant search is making me miserable. Because no matter what kind of positive I experienced, it is never enough. I’ll never be satisfied with the results. And if I compared myself to others, forget it! That’s like putting a gun to my self-worth. I told Him I was not happy.
In an honest moment, I was open to a new way of thinking, feeling from God about this behavior that was making me miserable. That’s when across the airwaves, I tuned in to a frequency I think was from the Lord.
“The more you focus on the results, the more you are trying to become a success. The more you focus on Me, being present with those you love, and enjoying co-creating with Me shows you already are a success. Leave the results to me and you focus on ENJOYING and FOLLOWING!”
Whoa! Immediately I thought I need to do something about this. So I decided to stop looking at my stats every few hours and scaled it back to once a week. In reality, I would be truly free if I never looked at my stats again. How I wish that how many readers, listeners, followers, watchers, subscribers, attendees, etc… did not matter to me at all. So here is the kicker. The 1st week I did this my subscriber list shot up! There was no reason for this to happen, it just did. The 2nd week the same thing happened. All of the sudden, I found my self lifting my head up from my phone and noticing those around me. How did I come under such a spell? I behaved like a parched man in the desert with only one thing on my mind, water. A spell in deed. I think all creatives come to this door in their life. Even the super successful will not always maintain their high status in the eyes of the world, then what? The questions will arise in their soul:
If no one seems to care about what I offer, do I matter?
What makes me matter?
If you are like me or was like me, a creative desperately seeking validation “out there”, ask yourself what are you looking for? Be honest, what are you looking for when you go to social media; your blogs, your posts, your shows, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram or whatever else. If you are obsessively looking for feedback on your post, pictures, words, sermons, videos, podcast, etc… I’d challenge you to tune in to what God may be offering you instead.
I am a freer person today than I was before. I feel I am in a place that is uncorrupted by the comparison – what do others do, what was successful, or what did not work? I now enjoy co-creating with God. Following Him and that be my end game, not the results of following him. I think this is a place where true originality and spark can come from. The other is a place of death, misery and perpetual dissatisfaction.
Be original. Focus on Enjoying God and Following God in your creativity. Leave the impact and results to Him and live satisfied.
“PRAISE the LORD all my soul and forget not all His benefits…who satisfies your desires (to be loved, valued, validated, encouraged, affirmed, etc…) with good things so that your YOUTH is renewed like the Eagle’s” Psalm103: 2, 5
****Big Shout Out to Jarrad Isch for helping me edit my writings, Thank you My Friend for the INTERVENTION! 😉 ****