Every day, I get to do something I love to do. Actually, I get to do several things I like doing: I get to study God's word, write, read a good book, take a picture, knit, quilt, serve my family, and walk the dog. Well, sometimes, walking the dog isn't all that much fun, so that one may be a duty more than a delight.
Every day, I do some or all of these things here in the quiet of my home on this quiet street in this small town. Every now and then I get to do something really cool and encourage someone. I may have someone e-mail me saying she liked what I wrote at my blog. I may put a picture on my other blog or Facebook and someone may like it. Someone I respect may link my post, or re-tweet something I wrote. Those things are little bonuses and may make a person feel complimented and blessed, but if they don't happen, it doesn't change my love of what I am doing. At least, it shouldn't.
I can't say here this morning that I've never longed to have recognition. I can't say that it hasn't irked me when I see "professional" writers either pen something I have written myself, or manage to have something published that should have been edited by someone more proficient. I can't say that I've never looked at someone's writing or pictures and wished I could do that myself. Let me tell you, when there are a myriad of "real" writers and "real" photographers out there, it's often scary displaying your work. It's kind of a mixed blessing: you need others to see your work in order to impove, but the criticism can be hard.
But I am supposed to be doing these things because I love doing them.
Why do we want recognition? What is it about the applause from other people that keeps us working to get it or weeping when we don't? Is it because we all want to be "special?" or loved by the masses? Is it because we want to be better than others? These are questions that are always answerable by the simple fact that our hearts are indeed self-centered. At the heart of sin is self. We make ourselves to be our own gods, and gods, by definition, look for worship. Maybe that sounds dramatic over such an issue as a few amateur blog posts or some photos, but the seeds of it can produce more serious consequences. Attitudes such as that turn everything into a competition and when we are competing, it's kind of hard to esteem your opponent better than yourself. I am an extremely competitive person deep down, and I am thankful to God that He has given me a life that has kept that at bay somewhat. Being an ordinary woman in an ordinary town with a fairly ordinary life is the medicine for fostering contentment, and even then, I'm still a sinner, and there are still times when my motives are not right. The irony is, that the things I find most enjoyable, and produce the results I enjoy most, are the things I do for the love of it.
I've been reminded lately that this is still a process for me. After reading The Envy of Eve, I was more convicted than ever that I need to cultivate contentment in Christ above all things if I want to resist the urge to do things for the attention. No one likes an attention-getter. My husband and I laugh at the memory of the little person who was our flower girl when we got married. This cute little thing loved to be the centre of attention, and on one occasion when we were sharing a meal with her family, we had cause to look outside the front room window where she and a cousin were playing with a dog. She saw us as we watched her, and when she came in she said, "How did you like me out there?" The child was four, so that kind of self-centered behaviour can still be corrected. It's when I work on the "How did you like me out there?" principle that I will run into trouble. Ultimately, there will be no contentment. It's especially damaging when this kind of thinking invades my service to God.
In the weeks ahead, at our group blog, which starts on September 5th, I hope to do a post about women and service.