I just decided not to enter a contest on YouTube. I’ve been hung up over it for days, deciding whether or not to compete for a spot in a selective YouTube creator’s camp in New York City: a week of training and connections, plus equipment, plus ongoing support from YouTube. Basically a ticket to success. All you have to do is write three essays, have a winning example video, be a channel with a vision…and oh yeah, also want to go.


That’s what finally hung me up. You have to want to go.


Believe me, I don’t have anything against New York City. And oh, how I’d love a change of pace! from chores and slushy ice and my (adorable) toddler climbing on my back every minute of the day. Yes, please, I would like to go to New York for a week of conversations about “vision” and “innovation” in rooms with humans only, and grown ups at that. Sign me up.


But I felt myself detaching from my real life, just thinking about it. When I went on YouTube and watched videos by all these glossy people, all the check mark channels, I felt myself disconnecting from the very groundedness that has saved me these past few years. I was thinking, sure, I could wear more makeup. Sure, I could use better equipment. Except then I remembered that I don’t really want to.


My heart has been called to something else.


If this message that follows is a little too on the nose, I’m sorry. Sometimes the news isn’t gentle. It’s more like getting hit with a hammer. But right in the middle of my wanting to go to New York City and become a check mark channel on YouTube, I listened to Mihee Kim-Kort’s podcast, and it was a sermon reflection on Philippians 3:17-4:1:


I have often told you of them,
and now I tell you even with tears.
Their end is destruction;
their god is the belly;
and their glory is in their shame;
their minds are set on earthly things.


I was right in the middle of watching all these young, beautiful people, sharing tips on how to apply makeup and doing selfie style vlogs, and making knowing, snide references to each other, and reveling in each other’s embarassments (that is exactly what I was doing!) when Rev. Brian Coulter went on a tear in my headphones, articulating the social “normal” of our day and age.


He said, “Normal is careless. Normal is wasteful. … Normal is living your life in an unintentional, thoughtless way. … Normal is being wasteful of your talents, refusing to accept who you are. … It is taking the easy way. It is taking the safe path. It is failure to live your life to the fullest. … Normal values consumption over completeness. It is wanting more while giving less. It is merely existing, rather than truly living.”





I’d toss it off as just another sermon, except, y’all…my very life is proof of this. I’d toss it off as just talk, except I have walked across this line. I’ve been fully in one place and fully in the other. And I have felt how the way you live changes what you’re made of. I have felt how the way you direct your eyes changes what you see.


There is not a clean incompatibility between spiritual health and worldly success. There simply isn’t a clean dividing line. It’s absolutely possible that a person could have both, or at least have them alternate in unexpected ways. But you can tell what it is that’s pulling at you. If you stop and listen to your heart, you can tell which call you’re answering. It is just clear as anything which citizenship you’re reaching for: whether it is the holy membership of living intentionally and living fully alive, or the “normal” of wanting more while giving less.


I could wear more makeup in my videos. And I could use better cameras. I could. And maybe someday I will. But it won’t be because I wanted a vacation, or because I needed a break from my real life. If I’m feeling tired — and let’s be honest, I really am — I need to go to a well that will really satisfy, not run onto another hamster wheel.


I need to gear down, not gear up. I don’t need to run away. I don’t need to sabotage plans. I don’t need a contest and an “opportunity” to sweep me away. I just need to do a little less.


And that…that is the great test of my courage. That is the thing I am always asked to do that’s hard. I hate doing less. I hate the risk of it. I hate how it just isn’t like me. I hate how it goes against the values of the world, to say, “I’m not going to enter this contest. I’ll never know whether or not I would have won. I’m just going to let that door fall closed.”


But even as I take that risk I’m also getting free from a current that pushes me along. I’m getting free from a pressure that always goes in a certain direction, and that isn’t always the way my heart wants to go. And I’m giving my roots a chance to grow into the riverbank. I’m giving myself a chance to become fully myself.


There isn’t a clean incompatibility between spiritual health and worldly success. There just isn’t. It isn’t a clean line. But it’s hard to find your own way if you’re being pushed along by something else. And I’ve made too many sacrifices for my stability to let myself be swept away right now.


As soon as I decided I felt so much more peaceful. Thank goodness. I can stop rehearsing my award acceptance speech. (haha!) I can stop practicing at being someone other than the beloved and beautiful and completely ordinary person that I am. Instead, I can practice believing that I am enough, even just exactly as I stand. Even just like this: created and beloved and enough.


Wishing you all peace, and rest. And the courage to live fully alive, instead of normal.


Love from the yurt,