When I was little, I used to practice how I’d walk from behind The Tonight Show curtain to the couches by Johnny Carson’s desk after Ed McMahon called my name. (And yes, I realize I just dated myself.) I was always a little fuzzy on exactly why Johnny would be having me on his show because I wasn’t exactly sure why I was going to be famous…I just knew that I wanted to be.
At first I thought maybe I’d be a singer. Unfortunately, I hate to hear myself sing which would make life as a vocalist irritating at best. For a while, I wanted to be an actress. But almost every famous actress story I heard began with the leading lady working as a waitress as she struggled to break into the business. Someone whose family sarcastically nicknamed her “Grace” has no business carrying trays of breakables over the heads of unsuspecting restaurant patrons. I figured my claim to fame would find me eventually. In the meantime, I practiced my signature for the autographs I felt sure people would request of me someday. I practiced making my “A” look like the “A” in Amy Grant’s signature because it looked kind of like a star–the star I hoped I would be someday.
I didn’t want to be famous because I wanted to be a diva. In fact, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would be a gracious celebrity, always volunteering my time and giving money to charities. I didn’t want to be famous so I could have lots of money, have my face on the front of magazines, and always be able to get a table at the fanciest restaurants. I just wanted everyone to love me. Like the people on “Cheers,” I wanted to go where everybody knew my name.
I’m the oldest child so I was pre-wired with a touch of “Firstborn Need to Succeed” syndrome. That disorder’s not in the DSM, so don’t waste a Google. I made it up. I also grew up with two incredibly supportive parents who told me I could be anything I wanted to be. In addition to supportive parents, I have a highly competitive nature so somewhere along the way I merged the two and decided that I needed to be the best at everything I did. And if I couldn’t be the best, I just wouldn’t try.
I achieved honors through the years. I was the president of the student council. I was voted Best All-Around and Most Likely to Succeed. But instead of enjoying each success, I found myself wondering, “What can I do next to top that?” Then I graduated from high school and went to college…with all the other Most Likely to Succeeds and presidents of the student councils and Best All-Arounds with a few head cheerleaders and homecoming queens thrown in for good measure. I felt a little lost and unsure of what I was supposed to do next.
At some point, I decided what I really needed was to be famous for God. I had to do big things for Him. Maybe I needed to become a missionary so I could lead the natives to Jesus. I wanted a huge collection of crowns to lay at Jesus’s feet one day. I wanted to be one of His shining stars in Heaven. I wanted Him to see what I’d done for Him and be proud. I wanted to hear, “Well done, Amy, my good and faithful servant!”
Each stage of my life I’ve looked for the next big thing that would finally lead to my greatest life’s work–the something that would cause God and everyone else to fall head over heels in love with me. Some times I’ve been more conscious than others that this desire was at work in my life. At times, I felt like everything must surely be on hold because I was in a stage of life that prohibited me from doing really big and really important stuff. I felt like I was in some kind of waiting room, sitting tight until it was time for my big debut.
Then I started this blog. I’ve always been a writer in my head. By that, I mean I have a continuous stream of words bouncing off the walls off my brain. They very rarely stop. Sometimes the words are thoughts about life stuff. Sometimes they’re stories about people who don’t exist anywhere except in my head. Most of the time they stay in my brain, but every now and then, I take the words out and put them in black and white and let other people see them. This blog gave the words a chance to get out more often and made more room for even more words to play in my head.
I love when something I write makes sense to someone else. One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too ? I thought I was the only one.” Every day that I posted something here I’d anxiously wait for messages in my inbox that alerted me to a new comment on my blog. Sometimes I would write something that made me feel exposed or vulnerable and I always felt a huge sigh of relief when someone would comment that they felt the same way, too. I’m so grateful for the community of friends that I’ve found because of this little blog.
But then my competitive nature reared her ugly head and I decided that if I was going to be a blogger, I needed to be the best blogger I could be. I started tracking statistics and worrying about why one post had more comments on it than another. I didn’t want to be unkind to anyone who had taken the time to read my blog so I spent a lot of time sending emails and reading other blogs and leaving comments. It didn’t take long before I had an overflowing inbox, a ridiculously unmanageable Google Reader, and a blog that felt more like a full-time job than a place to put my thoughts. And it didn’t really matter because there was always a better blogger and a better writer. And for that matter I could always find a better mom, a better wife, and a better friend. I just didn’t seem to be the best at anything and I didn’t feel like I was doing big things for God.
Over the last few weeks I’ve made some changes. I took the statistic monitors off of my blog. I started turning my computer off on Fridays. I stopped obsessing over how many times a week I was able to write a blog post. I started ignoring my Google Reader. Then this past weekend on the way home from Florida I read a book that’s been on my Want to Read list for several years.
I hesitate to tell you what I read because I’m pretty sure that I’m one blog post away from having Phil Vischer’s people issue a temporary restraining order on his behalf. But the book I read was Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables. It’s Phil Vischer’s story and once again, God used Phil’s words to speak to my heart.
Want to know what God said to me through this book?