A few months ago, I attended a dinner celebrating the launch of a friend’s first book. It was a glorious night. A beaming yet humble hostess, delicious food, and fun conversation wafted the atmosphere creating an electric vibe of love and cheer.
During the evening, I chatted with two women I had never met, or even seen, before the party. We talked about our children, writing, balancing career and family, and of God’s infallible grace. We swapped stories about overcoming insecurities, how you couldn’t pay any one of us enough in money or chocolate to return to junior high, and how loving oneself is necessary, yet only possible with Jesus.
At the end of the evening, another party attendee approached me and jokingly asked, “You have no idea who you were just talking to just now, do you?”
A wave of embarrassment washed over me as I tried to assess if I did something wrong. Then reality took hold.
“Well, yes. I was talking with (I repeated the first names of both women) and they are both great.”
She giggled and told me the last names of each of the women. After realizing I had nothing to offer but a blank stare admitting my cluelessness, she laughed again. Not a mean-spirited laugh; rather, the type of laugh brought on by surprise.
“You’re so cute. You really don’t know! One is a bestselling author and the other belonged to a famous contemporary Christian band. They’re kind of a big deal.”
It was my turn to laugh.
“I still have never heard of them, but I can see why a lot of people love them. They are both incredible and I really enjoyed our conversation.”
The other guest was 100% wrong and 100% right at the same time. Those two women are a big deal. They are smart, insightful, funny, authentic, talented, Jesus-loving, brave, and kind. Made in the image of God, by God, and for God and God’s creation, each of those women are indeed a treasure. Yet, neither is no more of treasure than my next door neighbor who also is all of those things, yet known only to her friends and family. Neither of those two women are more important than the young women shuffling from one foster home to the next, longing for love and acceptance.
Notoriety simply means that more people know your name. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Being known — even if you’re both known and adored — by thousands or even millions of people doesn’t increase your value nor does it decrease the value of someone no one has heard of outside of her hometown.
Currently I am at a season in my life where God has called me to pay extra close attention to the big deals right around me in both a personal and vocational capacity.
On the personal level, this means spending less time behind screens and more time having face-to-face conversations and cultivating friendships with my new neighbors and coworkers. Every single one of them is a big deal to Jesus. And they are a big deal to me.
Vocationally, my family and I recently relocated to Texas and I am now overseeing a marketing and communications department of a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of child abuse. Every child we serve is a big deal to Jesus. And they are a big deal to me.
Because I believe wholeheartedly that God is asking me to focus more of my time on my family, my neighbors, my friends and the children of Texas, this is going to be my last post as a regular (in)courage contributor. But I wanted to make sure that before I become an “alum” (and I will forever be a part of this online family) that I tell you again that you are a big deal.
You are brave, strong, talented, smart, funny, beautiful and downright amazing. Don’t forget that. Don’t forget that you add immeasurable value to your community for simply being you. And your colleague, neighbor, barista, teacher … she’s also a big deal, be sure to remind her of that.
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Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? – Matthew 6:26