This morning I came to the realization that my YouTube channel has more subscribers than my blog. This is my off grid/homesteading YouTube channel that I’m talking about, that I started kind of on a whim about ten months ago. At first I just gave it a few hours here and there on weekends, because it was fun. Now it has more traction than this blog I’ve worked on daily for nearly three years.
There are a couple things about this that I love.
- I’m proud of our alternative lifestyle.
- I like making videos.
- If everybody is going to be fascinated by this “off grid” thing, I would really like the Nick and Esther version of that to be visible. Because some of the other versions…whew.
There are also some things about it that I hate.
- I hate when the only thing people like about me is how well I brag my husband’s gifts.
- It’s a whole life of ESTHER, YOU LOOK JUST LIKE YOUR MOM.
- Those YouTube commenters…
- And I wanted something more beautiful than this.
I’m this person who has a whole bunch of culture. I have a college degree basically in having culture. What else is a degree in Theater and Dance Performance good for? I love poetry, and I love story and I love all things beautiful. These are my gifts.
And now here I am on YouTube, posting about modern homesteading and off grid sanitation, right next to the preppers who are like, “Put your waste in a plastic bag and bury it because the end is coming!” Um…no. DO NOT DO THAT. Ever. Do not put your waste in a plastic bag and bury it. Pro tip: Creation is a lot of things, and some of them are quite off-putting, but it is. not. nasty.
I guess what I’m saying is that for a bookish girl who loves poetry and beautiful things, I have stepped into a very earthy crowd.
I prayed about it this morning. I have had a little time to myself today. (Thank you husband and family for sending me away for a whole night and day.) I visited a new church. And I prayed and my prayer was kind of like, “God, I really want to be Cheryl Strayed. Can you just make me Cheryl Strayed?”
God was like, “No, honey, I need you be Esther.”
I said, “But God, I would be REALLY GOOD at being Anne Lamott. I mean, look at me, I have all the skills, and even some similar experiences. Why won’t you just make me Anne Lamott?”
God said, “Because I need you to be Esther.”
“Well…could you at least just make me a little bit more like Sarah Bessey?”
Then I looked up from the patterned excellent-at-hiding-stains church carpet…because everyone else was starting to sing. But I was still grieving. I was grieving for how I’ll never be the literary author I’ve always wanted to be, because nobody cares about my finely crafted sentences, or my poetic imagery…and I’m doomed to walk in the shadow of my prophetic mother and my brilliantly talented husband…forever…and ever.
And then God was like [tap, tap, tap, tap], “Wait. When did I say that?”
Yeah. Then I sort of just suddenly remembered that I’m actually writing a book right now, that I’ve been working on for years. I have never been famous for it, and maybe I never will be, but I have always had enough encouragement to keep going. And my little engine of a blog may not be the strongest or the biggest, but it does reach real people every single day. Nobody ever said to me that I needed to quit. Nobody said that I was losing anything.
It’s amazing how fast you can forget these things. Just because there’s a flash over here, on the YouTube channel, and that flash is bright and it takes my whole attention, I can forget that the work of being faithful is being faithful every place I go.
I am a writer. But I’m not ever going to be Cheryl Strayed. I am a faith writer. But I’m not ever going to be Anne Lamott. I am a blogger but I’m not going to become Sarah Bessey. I am Esther. Esther is a writer of beautiful things and she’s also a part of the modern homesteading movement. And if I think those two things can’t coexist I’m missing my own point.
It’s so tempting to reorder everything around the clicks. Especially when there is pressure to “build platform”…whatever that means. It is tempting to try to dress myself to fit whatever I think the people want.
Do you want the chicken-holding, makes-bread-in-a-woodstove Esther? Or do you want the deep, passionate Esther who tends to overdo all of her convictions? Do you want the one who knows some stuff about soil fertility? Or the one whose favorite thing in the world is to talk about God?
[tap, tap, tap, tap] “Esther, those are all you.”
I don’t want to sit under the Christmas tree of my life and say, “That gift is not the one I wanted.” I don’t want hold my dreams so tight-fisted that all the treasure runs right out of my grasping hand. I want to be grateful, and greedy, and faithful, so that I receive it all.
I want to say I showed up, and did the work, whatever the work happened to be.
Fortunately, there was another chance, in that same Sunday service, to pray. I said, “God, I would still rather be Cheryl Strayed, mostly because her book was made into a movie, and that would be really, really cool, but since I have to be myself…[sigh]…God…can you just make me enough?
“I don’t want to be a success, and I don’t want to be a failure. I just want to be enough. I don’t want to be a career mom, and I don’t want to have hidden my gifts. I just want to be enough. I don’t want to be all pretty, and I don’t want to be all practical. … I just want to be enough.”
And God said, “Honey…don’t you know? I already loved you.”
I’m linking up today with Lisha Epperson! Whenever I’m in on a Sunday I link up with the Give Me Grace community. Because so much love.