Is it a blessing to live a small life? My answer is a resounding, “Yes!” if that is where God has placed you.
I’ve been reflecting lately on the joy and freedom of living a small life. A quiet, simple life. It is so contrary to everything around us. Our culture both in and out of the church is all about doing more, networking more, increasing your visibility, influencing more people, and even strategically branding yourself to increase your visibility and credibility.
I’ve been thinking about the many believers who have gone before and lived quiet lives. They have quietly loved their families and neighbors. They have quietly crocheted a scarf for a friend or made a supper for a neighbor. They have faithfully prayed for the small circle of people in their lives. They never wrote a book, never spoke at a church, never traveled to a conference, never tweeted their every thought.
They just quietly and simply influenced those around them and then passed on into eternity where they met Jesus.
The Freedom of Being a Nobody
I’ve also been pondering the freedom that comes with being a nobody, out of the glare of the spotlight.
I recently read an exchange between some women on a discussion board. They were discussing a particular blogger who has hit the “big time.” She started out with a simple but engaging blog, developed a large following, and then hit the big time. (I’m purposely being vague.) The universal feeling among the women who were discussing this is that they all missed what it was before the woman went “big.” They missed when it was simple, personal, and heartfelt rather than becoming a business. The woman still writes in a way that is “personal” but it is a “personal” persona now as a marketing tactic, not an authentic personal interaction with those who read her site. Many of them had stopped reading altogether since it no longer had the personal warmth it had in the past.
It was interesting to read the perspective of those who had followed and then lost interest because of the change of focus. While the woman has hit the big time and is most certainly reaping certain rewards for that success, I wonder if she herself misses what she has lost? Is becoming her own “brand” so to speak really satisfying? What has she had to sacrifice (in a bad way) in order the achieve what she has? What have those around her had to sacrifice because of the level of “success” she has achieved?
Living a Small Life
Today as I sat homeschooling Caroline and watched her eagerly dive into her craft materials, I reflected on how I truly am blessed with my quiet and simple life. From the outside it is a small life. I don’t travel the speaking circuit, I don’t have a book deal from a major publisher, and no one calls me for a sound bite. But, oh, the freedom I have to enjoy my quiet and simple life. The freedom to be myself and not have to meet the expectations of others. The freedom to be open and honest about who I am and what I think and believe without fear of offending a vast segment of followers and suffering the resulting financial backlash.
How much stronger would our families, churches, towns, and country be if we were all more enamored with the people in our little sphere of influence instead of the world at large? How much better off would we be if instead of worrying about working social networking to promote our brand we took muffins to the new family on the street and invited another family over to share a pot of chili? How much happier would families be if people pursued a quiet and simple family life with the same fervor that they pursue an elusive dream of making the big time and being someone important?
Is there anything wrong with hitting the “big time?” No, not if that is where God leads. And yet I wonder how many people trade the beauty of a quiet and simple life with the restless and ultimately fruitless pursuit of “being somebody” instead of simply being everything to those closest to them.
I went through this when chronic illness made my life much smaller. But I pondered the same things you did and thought of those I admire (from the Bible and modern day) who also lived a small life by the world’s standards but were just where God placed them.
I admit to having a temptation to struggling with numbers on my blog. In truth it has good numbers for what it is but one does look at other blog numbers and gets a twinge of the green monster. I know when the flesh is taking over (I don’t think it is even the enemy of our souls, the flesh is enough of a struggle).
I’ve been offered numerous ways to “increase traffic” but if I did that, it would completely change how I write and that would stop making it fun.
I have a dear blog friend who has shut down her blog (hopefully temporarily) because of snarky comments making it not enjoyable. Life is too short and the days go by too fast to do something for free that makes one miserable.
I think I know what blogger you are talking about, but your analysis could probably apply to many bloggers out there. 🙂 I do think there are sacrifices when bloggers hit the bigtime, but honestly, from the ones I’ve seen, I don’t think they care, they are too busy counting their money.
As an introvert, I am hit with the realization, repeatedly, that I am living my life differently than many others. It would look like a very small life to many, probably quite boring really. But it’s not to me.
Some things just don’t scale up very well, as they say in software development.
It also reminds me of one blogger’s comparison of an early Thomas Kinkade painting with one of his later, more famous ones–the earlier one was of much higher artistic quality, but wasn’t something that the average person would want to hang on their wall.
I am living my dream.
And I am grateful!
Such a beautiful post you have written here.
Sallie, Sallie, Sallie…sometimes I think we’re twins separated at birth.
I have for many days, months, and even years been pondering this very thing. When I shut down Enjoy the Journey years ago it was partly because I was returning to work/teaching and didn’t want the eye on my private life through employer’s prying eyes…but it was also because I was tired of trying to meet everyone’s expectations. I could write about any topic and someone would be offended/mad/etc. Nothing was safe anymore.
Life has gotten too busy. My depression/anxiety flares up when life gets “too big” and I often tell my husband “I need to keep life small.”
Like you, I hate this constant branding of everything. Our church recently paid a lot of money to a church group who specializes in marketing & branding churches. While it helps bring in some people, it also turns off a good many.
Some days I dream of shutting out technology and just going back to the simpler ways of life. I’m TOO connected.
Lindsey – I’ve run off all the easily offended by now! LOL! The only people left who read here are family, friends, and people who aren’t afraid to think for themselves. Seriously. Anyone who is seriously dogmatic about their views that differ from mine stopped reading here a looong time ago. My traffic is probably about 80% less than it was at its peak when I was pregnant and first had Caroline. I’m not kidding. And it doesn’t bother me in the least.
Brenda – I laughed out loud at your comment about your low numbers on your blog because you probably get ten to twenty times the number of readers I get.
My blog is what it is. It may waver at times in what I do as my life changes and I change, but it is substantially still the same. I want to see people grow and succeed in the things that matter the most. I want to ask the hard questions and encourage people to think about their faith. That will never appeal to the masses and I’m perfectly okay with that. My aim is to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Being faithful with a small number of talents can provide just as much eternal reward as being faithful with a larger number of talents. It is the faithfulness God considers, not the amount. One of my very first posts was Two Talent Living which was originally the name of this blog. I still believe it is true.
Someday I am seriously taking a trip to meet all of the kindred spirits I’ve met through my blog.
You are most certainly welcome here in NC anytime. I’ll even take you to the beach and a Duke game! 🙂 (FYI thought of you repeatedly during the MSU games with UNC And Duke)
Christian @ Modobject at Home
Oh, how your words, thoughts, and desires resonate with my own. Through the years that I’ve been blogging I’ve realized that the only way I can do it and enjoy it (without being consumed by it) is to blog for my own pleasure. If I have to think about numbers and subscribers and pageviews and advertising and marketing, well, it’s over for me. Simply not worth it!
This year, in particular, has been one in which I’ve realized the tremendous blessings of having a small life that is part of a tangible community. While I certainly find connection with kindred spirits online, the face to face loving and serving others, building friendships, being neighbors… that is what I love doing every day, and doing it with my husband and children.
I love this place! I just purchased some printables. Your site is exactly what my heart needed! ??
I’m so glad that you find my site helpful for your heart and life. That is why I do what I do. Thank you for taking the time to tell me.
Thank you for writing this!
It’s as if you have described me!!! Many things that have come into my “comfort zone” have felt like mini tornados but I always crave “Small Life”, ALWAYS. Some is preservation but God wants me to desire “Small Life”. Due to my choosing “Small Life” I am so blessed with the most important things in life….Salvation, Freedom from a cult, Love for my family, Debt free, Contentment, finding Joy in the smallest things, Vision that is led by God.
It’s been a delight to find your blog and read through your older posts. I’m learning something new each time. I struggle to verbally express myself to others. You express so much of what is on my heart.
Thank you so much for this comment. It always blesses me to know that even posts I wrote many years ago are still encouraging people.
I’m so glad you found my site. I’m enjoying getting to know you in the comments!