I’ve been blogging for seven years now. Most of the people who were blogging when I started have either surpassed me in fame and platform numbers, or they are no longer blogging.
I have heard so much over the years about platform, and it is all true: if you want to write a book, publishers want you to have thousands of followers somewhere in the interwebs. I have the majority of a book finished that has been quite admired by acquisition agents as they refused to publish me because I’m not a sure sale.
I am rewriting that book in an attempt to create something that woos them past their saavy business sense. Or maybe I will self-publish it. I don’t know at this point.
I only know that I don’t want to build a bigger platform. (This is heresy in the writing world, but I have lost my ability to quiet my tongue.)
Go ahead and roll your eyes and tell me I will NEVER succeed. I don’t care anymore. I’m weary of hearing how important it is to have tens of thousands of email followers. I don’t want women all over the world to like me online. I want women all over the world to engage in what’s happening in front of them, in the real life they’re living. I want them to increase in their commitment to their own growth, their families, and the efforts of the local church to establish God’s love and justice in their city.
I have grown weary of the popularity push.
A few weeks ago I sat around a table with a group of women I adore with my whole heart. We talked about our dreams and our goals and I loved every minute of the face to face interaction. Our lives are woven together by our allegiance to Christ, our families’ friendships, and years of working together to serve our spiritual family and our city of Austin. We have mourned together and celebrated together. We have laughed at/with each other, honored each other, strengthened each other, and cheered one another on.
Our connection to one another is not a platform we sit on, it is an altar where we have bowed together before the God who brought us together.
My friends remind me that success is highly subjective, isn’t it?
This is my version of success:
- I want to love my husband well, to laugh with him, to sit in the sun and the rain together, and to remain tender and kind toward him on the hardest days of our relationship.
- I want to mother my children well: offering wisdom, kindness, truth, and love to them so that when they trek out into the wide world with all its struggles, they will stand firm and courageous, knowing their mom will always be there for them.
- I want to be the kind of friend who makes dark days a little brighter and happy days a little sweeter. I want to show up with cookies or a good casserole when you least expect it, but need it most.
- I want to help build a church in Austin that will be a light to our city, that feeds the hungry, speaks up for justice, and establishes peace and reconciliation as it leads the lost homeward in Christ.
- I want to write and speak and paint words that will lessen the blow of the world’s severity on our hearts, and remind us to look ever out over the horizon for where mercy rises on the clouds and leads us to God.
Here is what I don’t want: to gain the whole world and lose my soul.
Every time I buckle down and work on my “platform”, that’s what happens to me. The light goes out and I feel lost when I’m trying to build a higher seat for myself. Some amazing people I know do marketing and branding with grace and beauty. It is life and joy and Kingdom work for them. I have accepted that I am not one of those people. My soul is just not made of that kind of stuff.
Accepting this means that I frequently feel like the writing world is passing me by, like I don’t have what it takes, and I have failed at one of my biggest dreams. These are hard thoughts to process, but there doesn’t seem to be another way for me to make it through.
I know I couldn’t possibly be the only person who feels this way about writing platform. I can’t be the lone person out here dying a million deaths to platform strategy. Surely I have some brothers and sisters out there? Here’s to solidarity.
I don’t know what will happen with us, if we sit back and lean into who God made us to be instead of trying to muster the energy to do the things that we don’t do well. But I’m willing to take the risk. I’m willing to be a colossal failure by industry standards so long as I am following Jesus to the quiet places He has given me to lie down in.
I trust that Jesus was talking about me when He said to take the seat in the back at the party, and move up when someone offers you a better seat.
He was pointing at me when He said that God cares for the lilies and the birds, and that I don’t have to worry because He will array me in splendor and provide everything I need.
Jesus was looking at me when He promised that if a person abides in Him, and His words abide in her, she will bear fruit and glorify God.
I don’t have a big platform, but I have Him, so I’ll be okay. And so will you, no matter what size platform you’re standing on today. Really, we’re all just standing on His love for a world full of redeemed failures, which is the foundation of all the best Jesus work.