January 27, 2016

When the Internet Says Your Life is Small

I have had a terrible time with the internet lately. The monster within is rising again, I suppose, screaming at me through others' beautifully blogged words and many-hearted Instagram pictures, berating me at how unimportant I am, whispering words that plant me perpetually on the outside, raising questions of just who I think I am anyway and why am I even trying and what is the point again? The monster is persistent, and the fight is wearying.

When the monster is me, there is nowhere to run.
And when somewhere underneath what is currently strangled by my own ambitious desires for importance and influence is a sure and simple calling from God, I am under holy orders to stay in the fight, to pummel away at thoughts of reach and readership until only worship remains.

The internet makes the world too big sometimes. Big can be good, as the internet delightfully stretches our reach across the globe, enabling us to glimpse what gospel laborers are so faithfully doing in various creative ways.

But then, when our view is stretched out across the world, it is far more difficult to close the laptop and return to the close-up view of our lives. The close-up seems small, like the sluggish feeling of slowing the car to 30 when we've been cruising at top-speed on the interstate. It suddenly seems as if we're going nowhere, doing nothing, at least nothing that would draw attention as a status update.

After being stretched, after seeing all we see online, we know what can be, and our hearts rumble with craving. For what she has. For who she's become. For her success. For her unique giftings.

The monster awakens, insatiably hungry, driven to find validation and excitement and, really, anything big. The close-up view--changing the diapers, listening to the distraught friend, trying to be excellent at school or work, scrubbing the toilets, holding the tongue--all of it seems of such little consequence, so little that instead of being tiny acts of worship, they become steps toward our frustration and entitlement. I'm better than this. I could be doing so much more. 

The close-up picture of our daily lives rarely comes into sharp focus. We can't see the ramifications of the daily acts of faithfulness, and with most of them we never will. It's so blurry sometimes that we're not sure if God is doing anything with us at all. Perhaps He's forgotten us.

In this day, we can't avoid stretching out to see the world, and we shouldn't try. But must we fight the monster of selfish ambition with every scroll and swipe? Must we inevitably wrestle with comparison, envy, and entitlement? Must we fight for our place in the big world?

There is another way: we can stretch out and look for God. We can look for God in what He's given her. We can look for God in who she's become. We can look for God in her success. We can look for God in her unique giftings. The only way we can look for God working in and through another woman is if we believe that, just as He's asked for our small, daily faithful acts, He's asked the same from her. No matter her success, her influence, or her abilities, no one escapes the close-the-computer moments, and no escapes the requirements of the close-up view: faithfulness.

When the world becomes too big, when we believe our lives are too small, this is our way to worship.