My sordid confession: I want to be rich.
Not rich in money. I have cried over too many pictures of starving African children to want more money. Besides, according to the Global Rich List, I am disgustingly wealthy.
My desire for riches goes deeper and is woven into my flesh, laced together with my pride in a sinful little package.
I want praise. Accolades. Notoriety. Fame. I want to be the best and win the most; to be the person PBS calls to give her expert opinion for a documentary: “Renowned historian My Name has this to say about the Mycenaeans…” I want the Attagirls, as many as I can get.
Such wanton desire is a far cry from Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!”*
He has set the example for me, and I have flouted it.
Far from giving my expert opinion on PBS, I am a stay-at-home mom, have never had a paying job, and spend most of my days picking up Legos and socks that have no partner. I know that in God’s eyes I am doing the work He planned for me and that it’s important work. But that doesn’t matter, because it is thankless work that's thin on praise.
I have a novel to my credit, and in the beginning I honestly wrote it from sheer joy. The story sang to me and I responded, never dreaming it would go anywhere. Two years later I see it published, a sight which should cause me to swell with the good kind of pride.
My true feeling? “I used a subsidy publisher instead of a traditional publisher, so it doesn’t really count.”
Why am I so focused on the accomplishment of the thing rather than the joy of my gift?
The book is lovely, but in a market with eight million friends, it is nothing special. It will win no contests, it will not “break out”, and it will not become a household name. And I hate admitting that this grates me, tears at my heart, and tempts me to hang up my writing hands for life.
If I can’t excel and be the best, why should I even try?
God says: “Because it’s my gift to you, and by golly, it’s fun.”
My flesh says: “But why can’t it be successful? Why can’t I WIN?”
And I realize that God will probably withhold that success from me, possibly forever, but at least until I learn that success shouldn’t be my goal.
Isaiah 43:7 says, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” **
I have not been writing for the riches of His glory, but for my own.
Irony, that I can’t even allow myself to give up writing, but according to His will, must write on for the pleasure of it and not for renown. To take the rejections with a smile, and continue to plot and spin and form the words He has given me, just because He says to.
It’s a silly little problem, really, when I could be poor in accolades but rich with His gift.
*Philippians 2:5-8 NIV
** Isaiah 43:7 NIV
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