I’ve had enough. It’s too much. Something must be said, done.

It started with an email from a well-intentioned acquaintance. A budding writer, she expressed her appreciation of Undone, celebrated with me its success. I appreciated her kindness. What I didn’t expect were her next words:

I’m jealous. 

She went on to express the fact that my dire health circumstances had ignited a level of success around my book that she envied. If only she had such luck! If only she could get similar traction on her work! Stunned, I stared at her email, unsure of what to feel or to say.

Jealous? I’ve experienced more pain and loss than I thought any human could possibly endure. Every day I live with permanent disability as a result. And you’re envious because of how that may have influenced book sales?!

In all fairness, she was simply being authentic about a real human struggle, the deep longing to be seen and feel significant.

I get it. Just this week I discovered a online friend I admire had unfollowed. My gut-level response? Rejection. I wanted to track her down, find out why {Yes, I struggle, too}. It took me a few moments to remember there could be a dozen innocuous reasons for the disconnect. Besides, my value doesn’t hinge on one person’s attention.

These are merely two examples in a long, tired list of others. How about the woman who no longer wants relationship because you didn’t endorse or promote her book? Or the connection who felt slighted because his initiatives weren’t reciprocated? Or the friend who stopped being a friend because you didn’t like his Facebook page, invite him to your event, share his post, or introduce him to your most-important connection?

For the love of all self-respect, this needs to stop. Our desperation is noxious. We’ve so cheapened our sense of identity that the slightest oversight ignites offense. We claim a desire to serve, to love, and to offer our “ministry” for the Glory of God and the benefit of others. But do we really? Instead, we think …

If only she would share my post … 

If only he would recognize my work …

If only I’d get this one break, then I’d feel better. 

Lies. All lies. {and, for the record, I’m girl-slappin’ myself most of all}

The problem isn’t with everyone else. The problem lies within.

No one can make you feel more significant, more legitimate. No person or opportunity can deliver enough success on a silver platter to sate your craving.

We’re sacrificing the credibility of our message on the altar of insecurity. We’re scrambling and hustling for our place in the spotlight, and in the process we’re losing relationships, our self-respect, and the Gospel. In Matthew 16, Jesus says it even more bluntly than I:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

These castles we’re building will not last, you know. One day we’ll breathe our last, the name we built for ourselves will fade, and others will quickly step on our ashes to take our place. I’m a businesswoman, and I have no problem with working hard, making a living, and growing a business. But when we forget who we are and why we’re here, we’ve missed the point completely. 

There is no middle ground. True love leaves no room for self-aggrandizement, self-absorption, and keeping track. Servant-heartedness wastes not a thought on who notices and who reciprocates. Following Jesus has little to do with receiving recognition and everything to do with climbing onto a cross. Thus, try a new approach to becoming enough:

Build your identity on something other than what you do or who you know.

To begin, trying reading and believing the words of 1 John 3:1. If this doesn’t anchor you, nothing will. If I had a dollar for every woman who asked me, “How can I get on the Women of Faith tour?” I wouldn’t need to work. Please hear me: there’s nothing “wrong” with large, big-name platforms. Great good is often accomplished by those with sweeping audiences. I’ve seen it firsthand! But who says a large platform is the pinnacle of worth? There are men and women who live next door to you, who drive in your carpool and sit nearby at your daughter’s soccer game that need your message just as much as anyone filling an arena for a weekend event. Somehow we’ve equated stage lights, studio sound and high-profile connections with significance. In the process, we’ve pimped out our souls. Please, let’s stop pining for the spotlight and instead recognize the opportunity of “exactly where I am.” Success isn’t an external achievement, it’s internal assurance that you’re doing exactly what you were made to do, for the One who made you to do it.

Make sure your desire to serve trumps your desire to impress. This isn’t easy, I know. Every day I fight the urge to feed my craving for affirmation. But fight it we must. One part of my business is working with speakers to develop killer keynote messages. In every case, one of the first questions I ask of each client is this: Who is the person you’re trying to reach? Name her. Describe her. Feel her pain and tell me what she needs most. Then, how do you want her to be different as a result of hearing your message? I ask these two questions simply because they anchor everything that follows. Without it, human nature will take over. We’ll get wrapped up in our own “wow” and end up stepping on heads in order to impress.

Spend far more energy searching for the unlovable than seeking to be loved. You know that event you went to, the one where you worked so hard to make important connections? You left frustrated, hurt, and vowed to stop trying. Consider this: For all the energy spent trying to be noticed, you completely overlooked so many others who needed to be seen. In other words, you became the problem you blame everyone else for. Instead, spend yourself searching for people to love (Is. 58:10). Stop scraping for your own significance and, instead, offer it to others. In the process, you’ll end up discovering the love you’ve been looking for.

It’s not easy, but it’s quite simple: Rather than reaching for fame, let’s embrace humility. Rather than making a name for ourselves, let’s be bold ambassadors of The Name. The first is sand, the second is cement. The first will leave you hurt, lonely, dissatisfied and jealous. The second will anchor you on the truth that you’re already loved.

And more than enough.

The following question is too important not to consider: Where do you find your significance? 

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