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A Time to Tear Down and a Time to Build
Editor's Note: According to Ecclesiastes 3, "There is a time for everything...." Not everything on that list, however, comes to us easily. Some items confound, others liberate, and none of them surrender to our wills entirely. The following article is part of a series that explores the complexity of these 14 poetic lines.
“Why do you want to be on TV?”
We were walking home from Mount Carmel Bible School, along the same stretch of asphalt we walked every day and he was a farm-boy from Neerlandia, a small Dutch community with three reformed churches.
He asked me this because I’d said I wanted to become a news anchor. Eventually, after he kept prodding, I admitted I wanted to be on TV because I wanted to be known. And he told me that wasn’t a good reason for doing anything.
I wasn’t used to that. I was used to boys telling me I could be on TV because I had a pretty face, and I liked that answer much better.
But he saw beyond my looks, he saw the trembling little girl that wanted to be scooped up and held, and he knew it wasn’t about strangers’ validation. It was about my own family not even knowing me.
Since that walk, that day, this farm-boy has become a husband and I’ve realized, it’s not about being known at all. It’s about making others known. It’s about tearing down selfishness, and building up something bigger. Something divine and holy and beautiful.
How do we do this when as authors and bloggers and entrepreneurs and artists, we’re expected to be in the spotlight?
Nadia Boltz-Weber once said, “I don’t promote myself, but I don’t apologize for my story, either.”
Granted, I’m no Nadia, but as an author, I am still expected to promote my work. And this doesn’t sit right with me anymore. I no longer want my face plastered on television because I know how superficial that kind of validation can be. I know how quickly people change their minds and their Facebook profiles and their Tweets and it’s exhausting because we were never created for this; for this inward focus. We’re trying to fill a hole that Blaise Pascal calls our God-shaped vacuum.
Back in February we took in two little boys, in addition to our own, to help out a friend of ours. So now we have four boys ages one, two, three and four. And three days of the week, I have a girl come in and help me.
Sometimes, however, it’s just me, and them, and I joke that if I were to stop moving for one second they’d all trample me to death, because they’re always there at my side, needing something. A drink, a hug, a story, and I do lose it once in a while. More often than not I try to choose humility. I try to turn myself inside out to serve the needs of these little ones who love me so much. I try to find the honor in it all. In giving up my art, and my writing, and my, my, my, in order to serve them, them, them.
Sometimes I cry. But, at the end of the day, (after I’ve had a glass of wine), I always smile. Because I know (when they’re finally in bed and the house is quiet) that I’ve done something good.
I told a friend once, no matter how many books I may write, I’ll never feel prouder than I do when I’m taking care of these children. Tired, yes. Frazzled, yes. Exhausted and annoyed and longing for peace, yes.
Yet, content. Knowing this is what matters. This living for others.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). I think if my heart is placed on holy things, on lasting things, on eternal things, like relationships, and love, and sacrifice, then I will never lose. I will only ever gain, because heaven is all of these things. Jesus is in all of these things. In the washing of his disciples’ feet, in the healing of the lepers, in the talking with the Samaritan woman.
But if I get stuck on the physical: on the fame, on the money, on the temporary glory, I’ll lose it all.
I often consider Katie Davis, author of Kisses from Katie. Sure, she travels and speaks, but she does it for the children. Her heart is for others. And this, I think, is the key. Whether she’s at home in Uganda, or on the road raising money for them, she’s motivated by something bigger.
I still catch myself wanting to be known. I tell Trent this sometimes, in the dark, as we lie beside each other in bed and stare up at the moonlight through the blinds. And he reminds me, I am known. By him. By love.
I don’t know that it gets any better than that.
* * * * *
The "Season for Everything" Collection
- A Time to Be Born and a Time to Die
- A Time to Plant and a Time to Uproot
- A Time to Kill and a Time to Heal
- A Time to Tear Down and a Time to Build
- A Time to Weep and a Time to Laugh
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