Monday, January 9, 2017

The Beauty of Being Small

I don't know about you, but I get pretty excited when I get a lot of likes. Maybe I'm unusual, but sometimes I think about what it would be like to be super popular online, to have a large following.

I'm not in that position, and sometimes I wonder if I should try harder to be. Should you feel bad if you are unpopular? Should you strive for popularity online or in real life?

In some respects it's a noble goal-- you want to reach a lot of people, to make a difference in many peoples' lives. But I would be lying if I didn't also admit that, for me, there's certainly an element of pride in there-- we all want to be well liked.

Is social media success an indicator of success in work or your life?

Maybe you're not like me, but I think there are a lot of people who want to "make it big": to be a well-known singer, an Instagram influencer, a famous blogger, a household Youtube star, or even just get a ton of likes on the things you post on social media.

I think sometimes I want popularity on social media because in our society we've made it into an indicator about a person or a person's content. You have 30,000 followers? You must be doing something right. How about 120,000? By then you are flooded with interview requests, podcast episodes, and dozens of people wondering "How you did it." Social media has brought a lot of joy to my life, and expanded my horizons in ways that were not possible before. But social media is not the best indicator of your best work or especially living a successful life.

If success on social media is the only indicator that you are good at your talent, it's as if your worth, and the gifts you've been given are only valid if many people give your picture a "thumbs up." I don't think The Giver of Your Gift (your Heavenly Father) would agree with that statement. I don't think He would appreciate you talking about his gifts to you in that way. I think the social media platform is unique, and is not a good indicator of how talented, interesting, blessed, or worthwhile you are. Those feelings are best felt when coming from within-- as part of a personal relationship with the One who cares the very most about you, who created you.

The gift of being small

I've been thinking lately about how it's actually a blessing to be small, to be unnoticed. You are able to live out your day-to-day life with so much authenticity.

  • You can go to the park or out to eat, and enjoy time with your family being totally unnoticed. 
  • You get to have authentic relationships people in person and online, because you actually know or have come to know the people who are following you. 
  • You get to style your house the way you want to, without wondering if your couch is "pinnable enough" or wondering if other people, people who don't even live in your house, will get enough enjoyment out of seeing the places you inhabit. 
  • You get the gift of living life inside your house just the way you want to-- as you've always done-- without the "eyes" of Instagram (even subconsciously) deciding that your daily habits are not enough or too much-- or feeling like you have to paint a certain picture of your private life for your "viewers." 
  • You don't have the pressure of feeling like you have to document every good thing you do. 
  • You don't have to wonder how your online presence (and consequently pictures of children, and the amount of likes those pictures get) effects your children's budding self esteems. 
  • You get to deal with personal problems personally. 
  • You're allowed to have issues and things that are not worked out yet, without every person weighing in and deciding what you should be doing.
Of course if you gained 50 followers or even 30,000, there's no guarantee that these negatives would become your reality. But it just hit me the other day that I am so grateful I am small. That our family's life is small. That we get to enjoy each other within the walls of our own home. It really is a blessing. Be grateful for unpopularity and authenticity!

How does God want you to be tested?

While I think those who "go viral" do have something special-- usually their content is super engaging in some way-- I really believe there's an element of luck, maybe even divine intervention to it.

Sometimes I wonder if it is divine intervention that keeps people small. I believe it is possible that some peoples' test in life include fame, popularity, and "always being right"-- but I don't believe it's everybody's test in life, and that being small is actually the greater blessing. I strive for excellence, especially in my blog, my writing, my pictures-- but I often miss the mark. It certainly keeps you humble, to not be the "best" at something. But it also keeps me grateful-- if you have "everything figured out," what need have you for God? It's such a fulfilling part of my life to recognize my own nothingness and God's greatness, I wouldn't trade that for earthly "wisdom," fame, drool-worthy picture-taking skills, or anything else.

Yes, people are very talented, and I have been blessed by many of them. Yes, good messages need to be shared and I have been blessed by "famous" people who have shared them. But no, I don't know that "virability" is an indication of the importance or soul-changing nature of the message. I don't know that you are doing less good, or achieving less by reaching a smaller audience. I don't know that you do the most good by reaching a large audience. I often think about the Savior. He did not have a large following. He did once feed an audience of 5,000. But after they had eaten, many of them left-- and the humble, true followers of Jesus were the few who stayed. God works individually. He works with sincere hearts. It doesn't matter how many subscribers you have, he will take His message to sincere hearts who are willing to listen.

Thank God tonight for being small

Thank God tonight for being small. For having a small sphere of influence where you can be genuine in your relationships, where you can make a big impact in a few people's lives, rather than a small impact in many peoples' lives. Today you get to love freely, with your whole heart, with no thought of who is watching. Today you get to experience your talents without getting conceited. It really is the better way.


  1. I totally get this! It's funny but my blog is private and I don't really want to share too much BUT I also wish people commented or looked at it sometimes. I mostly keep if for the purpose of our living family journal but it would be nice to have validation or even just acknowledgement sometimes. :)

    1. Yeah Jessi I've been surprised how many people this message touched. In my mind it had a very specific audience, but I guess all of us who participate in social media feel it. It's crazy how Satan can make us feel like unless somebody comments nobody cares! Glad to know it made sense to you ;).