Written in 2013
When I was younger, I only desired one thing: Fame.
Yep. There you go. I admit it.
I’m going to write this because I meet a whole lot of people who want fame/to be noticed/to make a name for themselves and to do it under the name of “Christ.” Frankly, it’s just annoying. It’s annoying because I see it in my old self, and sometimes, sadly, in my new self.
When I was younger, and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was always a career in the entertainment industry: Directing movies, Singing, Acting, etc. Why? Because I wanted my name up in lights, I wanted people to fond over me. I would dream about being on a huge stage accepting some sort of award for how awesome I was. I would fantasize about singing in front of large amounts of people in stadiums. When I was in elementary school, I used to sign my signature with an arrow pointing towards my name reading, “Future Celebrity.” That year, people signed my yearbook wishing me the best of luck in my search for fame. They wanted part of my profits or for me to thank them at the Oscars. I even made a list in 5th grade of all the people I would thank at the Oscars.
Boy, was I obsessed.
I never thought chasing my dreams was a bad thing. In church, people would always tell me to go after the dreams God had given me in my heart. So, naturally, I went after them in full force.
I dreamt about them all day and night. I would boast about all the things I wanted to accomplish, trying to impress people with my large goals. When I did something that I deemed spectacular, I shouted it on the steeples, or, at least, made it my Myspace status.
Finally, it was time for me to fly the nest and head to Los Angeles, CA. Upon graduation, everyone wished me the best of luck. They encouraged me with all the excitement that I could have wanted and patted me on the back all the way to the West Coast. They would tell me, “You look like you’d be a famous person.” “I have no doubt in my mind you’ll be a celebrity.” “You’re totally going to make it.”
So, I went. And I had a wonderful time. I wish I could tell you that it was awful being around celebrities and that I hated chasing fame. But, I didn’t. I loved it.
But then, God stepped in. And He didn’t want me to live in the City of Angels anymore.
Are you sure, God? Why did you call me here just so you can send me back to my hometown? How am I ever going to be famous? Aren’t these dreams from you? He was not impressed or moved by my complaining.
I was angry with Him because of it. Like, angry as in I’m-going-to-cry-and-throw-a-fit angry. I threw tons of fits that first year of college in California.
I just didn’t understand. All my life, I had wanted this one thing, and why would a loving God want to pry it from my hands, smash on it, put it in a blender, and throw it into the sea? Because He loves me. That’s what I realized at the end of the fight. He loves me so dearly that He cannot bear the thought of me wanting something over Him. He loves me so much that He is willing to do what’s best for my life.
The moment I decided to surrender while in California was when I clearly heard the Lord ask me: “If I didn’t give you what you’re asking for, would you still love me? Would you still serve me? Would you still worship me even if I said ‘no’?
It felt like the air had been kicked from my lungs. Here I was, a self proclaiming Christian, wanting to follow the Lord anywhere, and yet, I couldn’t answer a simple, basic question: Would I be willing to give up (oh no) my dreams to follow God? Would I be willing to take up my cross and lay down my life?
Honestly, I would have died for Christ then. I would have been imprisoned for Him. I would have let myself be burned and bruised for Him. But to give up my dreams? Um, I’m not sure. I’d rather take imprisonment. What a good martyr I’d have been.
And that’s when I realized it: In my search for fame, I had made fame into an idol. I was worshipping God because I thought He would give me what I wanted, not because He is good even in the painful “nos.” I had doubted that God was good right in that moment. I had doubted He loved me. I thought He was being mean and rude. After all I had done for Him? I had given my life to ministry. I was even going to a Christian school! I had led small groups. God, don’t you see? I deserve this.
Then, the painful blow. But it didn’t come from a still small voice, but from the tons of sermons that I had ignored because they weren’t what I wanted to hear.
God owes me nothing. I am not entitled to anything.
If anyone has ever told you that God owes you a good job or money or fame, don’t listen. He gave up His son while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). He gave it all. And we don’t deserve it. Not even close.
So, I moved away from California and into a small college town of which I had once said: “Oh my gosh! Who would live here? It’s so small!” I laughed at people who lived in that town because I thought it was hick town-ish, so insignificant, so not famous making.
I wish I could say that I immediately repented upon moving and never struggled with wanting fame ever again. In matter of fact, I became a nun and hid myself away from the world forever.
It took a long while for me to finally admit that I had been wrong in fighting with God. But, God is utterly patient and amazingly kind. He brought redemption to my wounded, angry, bitter heart. He didn’t have to, but He did. He opened my eyes to see the truth: He sees fame differently than the world.
It’s been two and a half years since I moved away, and God has done a complete turnaround in my heart. I don’t want to say this to boast or to make you think I’m wonderful, I want you to truly see that He is the one who is wonderful. Always.
I’m writing this because I talk with a lot of people who want the same things I wanted (and still, sometimes struggle with wanting). But, I want to tell you that God has given you everything you need right at this moment to do exactly what He wants you to do. If your name is not in lights, it’s because He doesn’t think it’s good. Psalm 84:11 (NIV) says, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” He doesn’t withhold good from those who are blameless.
And I hear a lot of conflicting views in the body of Christ that I want to combat.
From me, a fame-a-holic, to you, a lovely human being whom God adores, I want to share tidbits of advice/encouragement if you’re struggling with desiring fame or wanting to make a name for yourself. Actually, if you’re just desiring something too much.
Here ya go:
- Do not believe every single prophecy that is spoken to you. Here’s the deal, not everyone in church is a prophet. Not everyone hears from God correctly. Sometimes, humans want to help and encourage you, so they’ll “prophecy” over you, when it’s not really a prophecy but their own desires for your life. This is not to say that all prophecies are wrong. They aren’t. But, often, they can be misleading. Nobody should live their whole life according to a prophecy, but to the Word. In matter of fact, no prophecy should contradict the Bible. But, we like prophecies because they’re fun! Lately, I’ve been thinking about a story in 2 Chronicles 18 where Ahab, King of Israel, is having a conversation with the King of Judah. They want a prophecy so they ask 400 prophets if he should go to war, and all the prophets say he should. But, when the King of Judah asks for another prophet, Ahab responds, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” Oh dear. I love that because I think it really reveals the hearts of a lot of us. We love when people speak well about us, when they confirm our already made up minds, when they egg on our desires. But, what if a true prophet told us that God was saying “No” or “Don’t.” Would we choose to believe or not?
2. Ask yourself the difficult question you’ve probably already been avoiding: If God was to say that I am going to spend my whole life without _______ would I still worship and love Him? If you have trouble answering that question truthfully, then you are in treacherous territory. And don’t you dare say, “Well, I don’t need to ask that question because God’s going to give ______ to me anyways.” No. Just stop. I’ve already tried it. It’s not going to work. You’re not being honest with yourself. It’s like you’re trying to extinguish fire with a torch.
3. Don’t use the “God is giving me the desires of my heart” or “I can do all things through Christ” excuse. Psalm 37:4 says,
“Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Take delight. When you take delight in the Lord, He begins to change your heart. And then His desires become your desires. It’s not the other way around. If you go into that verse thinking that your desire for a new car is going to come to pass, you’re probably not going to delight in the Lord, but in the possibility of the Lord giving you a new car because you’re “delighting” in Him. Give me a break. As for Philippians 4:13? Yes, you can do all things through Christ. Including giving up that idol and seeking God instead of it. Including learning to be content with what you already have. Including obeying 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which states, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Including giving thanks in all circumstances, even if that circumstance involves God saying “no” to you.
4. Realize and believe that God loves you. If we could just believe that God actually truly loves us more than we love ourselves, then it would change our lives! He doesn’t just love you sometimes. He loves you all the time. He wants good for you, but sometimes that good doesn’t look like our good.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
His love can sometimes look like a closed door. It’s because he doesn’t view success as we do. If He asks us to move across the ocean to serve orphans, then He thinks that’s a wonderful job. If He thinks it great to serve our church in the nursery, then it’s a great job. He doesn’t tell us to go to the “best of these.” He says to go to the least. He says that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. He says if we want to lead, then we must serve. It might be unglamorous and frustrating at times, but God thinks it’s wonderful if we follow Him. That’s true success. It’s not serving us but our neighbors. It’s a bizarre concept because we tend to put worth into people who have made a name for themselves. We put worth into a person because of the amount of work they do.
In Hollywood, you see this all the time. It’s like people feel they have to tell you their resume before you even start a conversation with them. It’s as if they’re saying, “See! I’m worth you talking to! Now, what have you done? Are you worth my time?” It hurts when that person chooses to ignore you because your resume isn’t as extravagant as theirs. It doesn’t sound like love when God calls us to the lowest places, but He does so because He loves us still. He loves the people we’re serving. Truly. Absolutely. Without a doubt. It’s unlike any love we have or will ever experience. Believe it. Please.
5. Finally, surrender to Him. You won’t regret it. Okay. So maybe at first you won’t understand why you’re surrendering and you may even be a little angry, but you will not regret it. You are doing what God has asked. You are obeying. You are on the right side of the path, walking toward the narrow gate, not the wide one. Don’t give up. Surrender is the only way. All the times I have fought God, I have wasted valuable time and money. Don’t make my mistake. Please. Surrender. His yoke is easy, and His burden light (Matthew 11:30).
Now, I want you to know that sometimes, God has given us desires, but never ever let those desires He’s given you overcome the desire for Him. That’s a red light. Run to Him.
So, here I am now, recovering from years of wanting fame.
I still sometimes fantasize about performing in front of crowds or making a touching speech at an award ceremony. But, I think God has really done something spectacular in me and I think He’s spectacular for doing so.
When looking around at my life, I still have to remind myself that God sees me as His beloved even when the world does not acknowledge my existence. The truth is, wanting fame is only scratching the surface. I often want fame so badly because I want to be considered worthy. I want the words I say to mean something to people. I want people to want to talk to me and to value my presence and to be considered important. I used God as an excuse to get what I wanted, when, all along, He had what I was longing for. Through Him, I am accepted and loved. Through Him, I am valuable and considered worthy. He thought me important enough to die for, to bring back from rebellion.
Everything you want, it’s all in Him. A lot of our sins only scratch the surface of our true desires.
God has it.
Lord, let that be enough.