As I read the question, I pondered what my answer would be:
Would you rather be rich or famous?
While having loads and loads of money sounds intriguing, I’ve always wanted to be famous. Catch me on the next season of Dancing With The Stars! Just kidding. No, but really. Sequins, sparkles and dancing – yes please.
Because when you’re famous, you’re successful. And to me, being successful and being known go hand in hand. But do they?
Growing up in a small town, everybody knew everybody. In high school, it was more so the case. I cheered all four years of high school. Little girls would walk up and say hi in the local grocery store, especially after we would do our annual mini cheer camp in the summer.
Then when basketball season rolled around, the home stands were always full for our games. Olney knows how to show up and support its kids no matter what sports season it is.
When you were in high school athletics, you had a merchant photo taken, usually by my dad. It was a picture of you with some action shots from whatever sports you would be participating in. My picture hung on a wall at Gandy’s, one of my favorite local restaurants that has since, sadly, closed down. They had the best chicken tenders and onion rings.
Due to my crazy busy after school schedule of practice after practice after practice, we ate at Gandy’s probably at a minimum of three times a week. We laughed when we would sit at the table under my picture. We joked that it felt like we were eating at home with family pictures on the walls.
While I would in no way want to go back to high school, I liked that I was known – as a good student and a decent athlete. Now, I’m too introverted to go about networking and making a host of new friends. But when it comes to adding more followers and getting more likes on social media, I know what to do.
On Instagram, it’s all about the filters. If the picture is “meh,” the perfect filter has to go on it to somehow make it pop against whichever photos are before and after it in the news feed. And always before I post something, I over-analyze the possible response.
Why? Because I strive for acceptance. And when it comes to Instagram or other social media outlets, acceptance = likes. And that acceptance tells me that people see me, notice me and that somehow makes it seem like I’m known.
Like the famous people I follow on Instagram – they don’t know me. I don’t know them. I recognize them from what I see and what I read. There’s a big difference between being recognized and being known.
Merriam-Webster defines the two as –
Known: to have understanding of
Recognize: to perceive to be something or someone
To me, known means understanding who someone is – all of their unique traits, quirks, likes and pet-peeves. To be recognized is to match a face to a name. There may be some information understood about them, but it’s all shallow, surface-level.
God doesn’t speak to me audibly. I don’t walk around hearing him every now and then like, “If you build it, he will come.” There’s usually a stirring in my soul when he does. Like what happened this morning.
I”m currently reading Jamie Ivey’s If You Only Knew. It’s so good.
I was reading this today:
“I want to be known so badly that it’s crippling sometimes. I thrive off of others’ approval. I’m happy if you’re happy with me, and I’m sad if you feel like I’ve let you down. Oh, and I also feel good when I’m known for something, and I feel bad when i’m forgotten about something. Also, if you don’t like me, I’m crushed.”
As I read that passage, Francesca Battistelli’s song, “He Knows My Name,” came on my Spotify playlist. The one that was on shuffle. It came on at the absolute perfect time. Coincidence? I think not. As I’ve said before, music is powerful, people.
That song playing in the background while I read Jamie’s words led me to this – while I”m on a mission to be known in this world, there’s only one who truly knows me. And that means that he knows the dark places full of secrets that no one knows. The bits of shame I carry with me on a daily basis, hoping no one shines a spotlight on them to illuminate them. The broken pieces hoping to be made whole again.
He knows all that. And still loves me anyway. And still chases after me daily (for some reason, I hate saying, “He pursues me,” so there you go).
Jamie then went on to say this which brought my reading to a screeching halt.
“He knows I’m a sinner. He is fully aware of my struggle and desire for being known and loved. His desire is also freedom for me. He knows that my only source for being known and being loved and known is in Him, and in His great kindness, He has given me a job that constantly puts me in front of people. In His kindness toward me, He brings this struggle to the surface, so that it can be dealt with and not left to destroy me. My job depends on more people knowing who I am.”
While Jamie hosts a podcast – The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey – my job isn’t exactly like hers. But I have to be known for my job by the people I’m covering. High school coaches have to know me in order to communicate with me, send in their stats and trust me enough to tell the story of their players. I have to be known to get tips on stories. Apparently, I’m recognized enough to be asked to judge a steak contest this past weekend.
This is where God is tossing me in the deep end of my greatest need for the purpose of showing me in the process that He is all I’ll ever need.