Ya’ll, I love the spotlight. Really. I’m all about a captive audience.
Drop me down in front of a classroom. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 50 minute schedule or a 3 hour period, I’ll have plenty to say. Shoot, I’ll probably run over and get checked by the bell.
And, O, social media! Four hundred of my closest friends, available at any time night or day, to bear witness to my life. That blessed red notification bubble that pops up to show me just how many are listening. Twelve likes, eight comments, and a share. Joy!
Having a party? Need some entertainment? With a few stories, I can get a crowd belly laughing around me. Did I ever tell you about the time…?
Back in the days when I was a chef, our PR guy loved me. It didn’t phase me a bit if he set me in front of a microphone or a TV camera. I never failed to instantly light up- flirting with News anchors, quipping with radio DJ’s, and hamming for the audience.
I think I popped out of the womb ready to grace the stage. Even as a young child I’d recite poetry, act out skits, sing or dance- anything for an audience and a little bit of applause.
So when I started this blog a year ago, the platform seemed perfectly suited to my personality. Just me, my wit, my gift of wordplay, a keyboard, and the entire limitless internet as a possible audience. Perfect. I was ready to go viral. After all, I’m hilarious. I’m real. My message about body image was timely. I had a ready-made audience in my pool of Facebook friends. The stars were perfectly aligned for just such an event.
From the time I posted my first piece, “Don’t Wait Until You’re Thin“, I waited for the shares to start and the message to blow-up. After all, American women have been needing to hear this for decades! A dozen people read it. No one shared. Again, a month later when I sent out the timely “A Letter to My Mother” on Mother’s Day, I had high hopes. My stats remained in the double digits. The post didn’t even get a single comment. Not even “Well Rounded: Ten Reasons to Exercise that Have Nothing to do With How Much Space You Occupy” went very far, despite the number of body positivity boards I shared it to with the ever popular hashtag #BoPo. Honestly, with very few exceptions, each blog post I wrote has been read by a few dozen people, commented on by a loyal family member or two (at least my Auntie Nancy likes everything I write) and then fizzled out quietly.
I’d look around, and other women with a similar theme were getting heard. Millions of views, thousands of shares. I’d read their articles, comparing their writing style to my own. Wasn’t I at least as eloquent? Probably more, to be honest.
So what was the problem?
Perhaps what I needed was more training; some help to get my story out there; a bit of marketing advice; a few writing tips? Certainly, I needed to do something differently. What a God-send when an advertisement for the Lit Conference popped up in my Facebook news feed. It was a conference in Houston, Texas for women with a “fire in their bones to teach, speak, or write,” hosted by none other than my favorite Christian author, Beth Moore. O, that’s me! Have I ever got the fire!
And as you know if you’re a regular reader (or anyone I’ve talked to for any length of time in the last 4 months since I can’t stop running my mouth about it), God made a way! Despite the fact that I had no money to pay for the trip, originally missed my opportunity for a ticket to the event, was in fact 259th on the registration wait list, and cried great big ugly tears of disappointment for weeks, in the end I didn’t just get to go, the Lord took care of every detail and expense. Not only did I end up in Houston, it was on a full-ride scholarship. My conference fee was handled, my hotel comped, my plane ticket gifted to me, strangers even paid for my coffee, bought me meals, and drove me to the airport. God showed up in a major way!
It was through Lit that God shifted the emphasis of my blog.
From the moment I started dreaming of attending, in early fall of 2016, I found myself focusing less and less of my writing on diet, exercise, and body image and more and more on my spiritual walk. My courage grew as I got even more real, and started sharing with you all how God was moving in my life. And has He ever been moving the last six years!
And it’s been a difficult choice, ya’ll. Because, let’s face it, life-is-difficult-beautiful-and-broken-petrifying-and-exhilarating-with-Christ and ya’ll-really-need-Jesus are not popular messages. They’re not the types of blogs that go viral. Rather, they’re preaching to the choir type posts. Literally. The only people who want to read that are the people who already staunchly believe it. And let’s face it, us Jesus lovers are in the minority out here on the web. And, no surprise, my stats suffered. The posts were garnering fewer readers, less comments; a virtual Sahara of “likes” graced my blog.
Then, through the Lit conference again, God gave me a timely word. Part of the price of admission to the conference was the completion of a bible study called Entrusted. Since Beth would be building upon the precepts laid down in that study, she had asked us attendees to have the Entrusted workbook completed before showing up. In that study, Beth said something that resonated with me. “You worry about the depth of your ministry; let God worry about breadth.” I was so moved, I scrawled it on a note and stuck it to the fridge as a daily reminder. Clearly God was saying that if I was faithful to proclaim his message, He would get the word out. Right?
So I got a little bolder in sharing Christ on my blog.
Then came the conference itself, this past February, and it didn’t turn out at all the way I expected. I thought there’d be lots of helpful writing hints. Tips on increasing your audience. Secretly, I may have played out a daydream once or twice of Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer calling me aside, perhaps rapping on my hotel door, or even calling me on stage! “We read your ‘Open Letter to Beth Moore‘. You’re a phenomenal writer. We’d like you to write for the Living Proof Team.” That would be God handling breadth all right! I was ready.
You won’t be surprised to learn that was not what was in store for me at the conference. Instead, conviction shook me to the core as Beth repeatedly used her stage to address our motivation.
“Don’t let there be a single area of your life that doesn’t have God’s divinity running through it.”
“Sowing from the flesh brings fruits of the flesh. You can end up exploiting your own brokenness and someone else’s for business.”
“Communicate what will really help people. People need help. If it’s for self-gratification, don’t do it!”
“Die to adoration or it will kill you. Anyone who adores you can, in the next second, abhor you.”
“If you’re just looking for something that will make you visible instead of following God, you’re not going to get very far.”
Over and over and over, Beth Moore, the queen of women’s bible studies, probably the most well-known female Christian author of all time, admonished us over the course of the conference, God’s Glory, not your glory. God’s name, not your name. God’s purpose, not your purpose. It floored me, honestly.
This spotlight I so crave, this stage I adore, the audience I seek, are not my own but the Lord’s.
I came home from the conference with a burning focus. Dig in deep, rely on the Holy Spirit, write at His prompting, and God will be glorified. Amen!
Taking all I had learned to heart, I began writing directly out of my morning prayer time, and spent less time posting my articles to boards, and groups and engaging in self-promotion, then sat back to see what the Lord would do. I expected immediate increase! Fruit bearing! Exponential growth!
Instead, the same core of a dozen faithful readers kept reading and occasionally commenting on my posts. Nothing I’ve written lately has even come close to mirroring the success of a few popular body image posts I wrote back at the beginning of my blogging journey. Instead of God blessing my obedience, my readership seems to be tapering off, growing less enthusiastic.
But, in classic God style, as the applause decreases, I have heard his voice more clearly.
“Kate,” He has been prompting. “What if only 50 people ever read your work? Will you still obey me?”
O, yes, Lord, yes.
“Kate, what if only 40 people ever listen. Will you still be obedient?”
O, well, yes. For 40, okay.
That would be disappointing, Daddy, but of course. Thirty will do.
Um, yeah, sure. That doesn’t seem like much but okay, I’ll be faithful, Lord.
Well, ten’s better than none, right? Reaching ten for Christ would have to do.
“And what if it’s one, Kate?”
Only one, Lord!? Just one!
“Would you continuing writing for Me if I’m the only one who ever knows? The only one who ever reads any of it? Kate, am I truly enough? An audience of One.”
This is the question that’s been rocking my world and probing at my heart for the last few months. I keep praying about it, and I think, finally, I have my answer.
Yes, Lord, yes.
Should I never be in the spotlight. Should I never go viral. Should no one care to read a thing I write. Should I never step on a stage.
You are enough. My audience of one.
Photo Credit: Adapted from Spotlight by Mark Norman Francis on Flickr; used under Creative Commons license.