I hate being on camera. I think I always have. In nearly all of my toddler photos, I appear annoyed or angry. I think it's significant that my natural response to someone whipping out a camera to capture those memories was to frown. Those of you who know me personally are well acquainted with this idiosyncrasy of mine. It's no secret to my friends and family why I am coming up on a year since starting TWT with not a single photo of me on the site.
All of this is to say that I know it's time to start peeking out of my cozy, much-loved hiding place. I once heard someone say, "Don't despise when G-d hides you" and I have taken it to heart ever since. From the comfort of this hiding place, I have been able to stretch out as a writer with very low stakes and next to no scrutiny. My failings and missteps have remained very private. I can be controversial without getting trolled or canceled. I know this may need to change one day, and I will probably never be ready for it.
One of the many things I get honest about in AlieNation is my long relationship with mental illness and self-loathing. Just writing that sentence felt like a sucker punch to my ego's protruding gut. Yes, it's entirely possible to have pride and vanity in one area of your life and crippling self-disdain in many others. When you master playing to your strengths, you can fool everyone...your spouse, your parents, your best friend, and especially yourself. You end up settling for crawling through life on your hands and knees because you still end up getting to all the places you aim to go. The trouble is, you have wicked road rash from your naval to your nose and your hands keep bleeding like crazy. That's no shape to be in for most of your life.
The more intentional I become about practicing awareness of G-d's presence, the more He is revealing my own internal devastation. I'm confronted with the fact that He conjured me into existence simply because He loves me. How can I love Him back correctly if I can't find any of the beauty that He created within me? I'm not talking about pop-psychology self-esteem that's rooted in physical appearance or the things that I happen to be good at. Those things matter but they can't be the driving motivation for how and why I begin to love myself well. It has to be because I am valuable to G-d. He doesn't need me, He just wants me. That's one of my favorite quotes from a Skye Jethani book called With. I don't have to accomplish His plans for my life but it's best for me if I do. I don't have to live for Him but it's in my best interests to do so. I don't have to be the best at anything or get it all right. The pressure that I have been putting on myself my whole life to appear like I have it all together, doesn't need to be there at all. I won't ever have it all together but the G-d I love is holding absolutely everything together (Col 1: 15-20). This is His show, His narrative. I'm not even a supporting actress in His grand redemption story; I'm an extra.
So, the pressure is off guys! I don't need to stress if TWT never gets to 10k subscribers or if I never get a book deal with a major publishing company. I don't have to do or say stuff just because it gets me noticed. I can follow through with this photo shoot I have planned in one week and select the pictures from it that showcase, to the few or the many, that I am creative, cerebral, unique, curious, and always learning. I can carry on my quiet, fulfilling life of writing, doctoring, mothering, and wife-ing with one toe on the edge of a discrete spotlight. The Lord can do as little or as much with my offering as He chooses...I simply offer it. Stay Thoughtful, friends.
Me shortly after turning 1 years old. I'm told that the scratch on my nose was from attempting to climb something. Sounds about right.