I take myself very seriously.
No, I take everything very seriously.
And the mental and emotional stress of taking everything so seriously is just unhealthy.
The past few months, I needed to slow down a bit, take a step back, and take a look around. Withhold judgement. Stop caring so much. Keep my mouth shut and chill out.
And it’s amazing what happens when you take the time to listen instead of always being the one doing the talking.
This season of life has taught me a few things.
Most recently, it’s taught me that the world does not stop spinning when I stop talking.
You know what happened when I took a break from blogging? When I withdrew from Facebook? Heck, when I withdrew from church and my neighborhood and friends?
Life went on without me.
Conversations continued and people had good ideas and bad ideas and talked about important things and not-so-important things. And it didn’t really make much of a difference that I was no longer contributing to the conversation.
For someone like me, someone who is just oozing with self-importance, the experience was both liberating and frightening.
Those of us who have even an ounce of smarts or talent or sense of humor have a nasty habit of believing–deep down inside where no one can see–that we are God’s gift to the world. (Please tell me I’m not the only one with this problem?)
But one of the greatest lessons that I’ve been learning over the past few years is that the world does not need me.
It doesn’t need my music. It doesn’t need my clever party banter. It doesn’t need my self-indulgent photos of my children. And it sure as hell does not need my controversial “oh my gosh I can’t believe she posted that” internet links.
And, like I said, this realization is both liberating and frightening.
It’s frightening because it questions my sense of purpose and my place in the world. If I’ve always defined myself as a songwriter or a class clown or a this or that or the other thing, when I realize that the world is already inundated with every this, that, and the other thing, it threatens my importance. It threatens my identity. It makes me self-conscious and defensive and then makes me either cowardly or pretentious.
But, this realization is also liberating. It’s liberating because it takes away the pressure to perform and the pressure to always be the one to make things happen. It frees me from the lie that the future of the universe is resting on my shoulders. And it frees me to appreciate the ways that other people are filling the voids that I leave. Because, you see, it’s hard to notice other people when we’re constantly obsessed with our own brilliant contribution to the world.
Step back for a moment, shut your mouth, and watch the world spin on without you.
You’d never believe how small it makes you feel.
And how good it feels to feel so small.
I still haven’t figured out what this all means or what I’m supposed to do about it. And I’m definitely not ready to move on from this season of my life. But there is one thought that’s been ringing in my ears the past few months, something Saint Paul said in his letter to the 1st-Century church in Corinth. The basic gist is this: It doesn’t matter how spiritual I am, how wise I am, how holy I am, or how impressive I am. If I have not mastered the art of loving, then I am of no use to the world. I am just another noise in the crowd and it is all for nothing.
The world doesn’t need one more self-important internet celebrity or smart-ass cultural commentator. So, until I’ve figured out how to love–my God, my husband, my children, my neighbors–then I’d be better off keeping my mouth shut, regardless of how pretty the song or how funny the joke.
There’s already enough noise in the world.
And not nearly enough love.