"I think I'm going to start blogging again." I said to her over our morning coffee date. 

"That's good!" she replied because she's awesome and supportive. "Why'd you quit in the first place?"

It was a valid question that I hadn't even asked myself yet. The fact was I was frustrated that I had worked so hard on every post. Prayerfully considering every word. Searching my soul for hope and truth. Dredging the mud and mire of my heart hoping to produce good art. 

And my last post had a grand total of 30 views.

I was just frustrated that no one seemed to be paying attention to what I felt was solid writing.  I was frustrated that other blogs that I had deemed inferior got thousands of views and that blogger received sponsors and book deals and launched a lucrative writing career. While I felt like just another useless voice in the crowd. 

So I quit.

Feel free to judge me if you like. I'm judging myself. This is a confession of sorts. I'm showing you my weakness and letting you decide what you want to do with it. Denounce me as an insincere jerk or relate with my honesty. Either way I'm cool with it.

After I had expressed these frustrations to my wife she looked at me for a moment, making sure my selfish rant was over and she asked me one of those questions that I hate and love because they mean more than what they seem on the surface:

"Well, what's your point in blogging? Because if it's to help and encourage people then you're already doing that..."

One of the reasons I love her is that she said the positive and left the accusation unsaid. ...if your point is becoming known, if it's getting a book deal and ignoring the people that read and need encouragement...then you're missing the point.

The problem was that I had caught the western disease of wanting so desperately to be a hero. I had confused being "known" with being good. I felt this pressure to do "great things" for God and when I tried and failed it felt like I must be a bad writer or God doesn't love me enough to use me to reach a massive audience. This crooked way of thinking had permeated my cells. Confusing being known/popular/famous with being good/talented/loved.

I recognized that grossness in myself and so in reaction I stopped blogging for a few months more. I had to try to suck the poison out. I have always known that a humble life lived before God isn't a bad life...I just had to kill that western cancer that told me otherwise everyday.

There is a difference between being a hero and being a saint.

"We want to be heroes, we don’t really want to be saints. The difference between the heroic vision and the saintly vision is a fundamentally different way of viewing the purpose of life." 
 -Brian Zahnd

So as I sit down to write online again I have to ask myself: What's the point?

My hope is to spread hope. To remind folks that feel less than perfect, that probably won't step inside of a church that they are not alone. I try and fail everyday. Sometimes the most saintly action is getting back up and trying again.

I hope to connect with a loving Creator by trying to create...and reminding others that they can too.
Even if it's just to an audience of One.

Sorry if that was corny. Here's an intelligent quote about the difference between heroes and saints. Thanks for reading.

“For the hero the meaning of life is honor. For the saint the meaning of life is love. For the hero the goal of living is self-fulfillment, the achievement of personal excellence, and the recognition and admiration that making a signal contribution to one’s society through one’s achievements carries with it. For the saint, life does not so much have a goal, as a purpose, for which each human being is responsible, and that purpose is love, and the bonds of concern and care that responsibility for one’s fellow human beings carry with it. These two paradigms, the hero and the saint, and the way of life that descends from each, are really two fundamentally distinct and genuinely different visions of human society as a whole, and even of what it means to be a human being. They are two distinct and different ways of asking the question of the meaning of life.”
-Francis J. Ambrosio, Philosophy, Religion and the Meaning of Life

Picture*photo credit http://livebyquotes.com
There is a balancing act to every Christian's life. It's the balance of being called to "clothe yourself in humility" and the call to greatness.

The Bible says (in a couple of places) that God draws near to the humble but resists the proud.

And who could blame Him really? A truly humble person is so much better to hang out with. They are more interested in what the other person has to say. A humble person is comfortable in their own skin. In fact, they're not thinking about themselves at all, much less worrying about themselves.

There's a lie that tells us that humility is having a low opinion of oneself. That humble people hate themselves. The lie screams that to be humble you have to tell yourself "I'm no good. I'm worthless. I've failed again. Why would God ever love a sinner like me?"

I know this because I've believed the lie for more years than I care to admit. I thought to be a good Christian I had to crucify myself. Tell myself how terrible I was, how much of a failure I was, how much I hated myself.

These are lies that I believed and this is NOT humility.

We have a tendency to overcomplicate things here on this side of the paper sky. We hold ourselves to a perfect standard and destroy ourselves when we fail, but Jesus has already borne our sins on the cross. To try to force perfection within ourselves is like telling Christ "thanks for dying and everything, but I don't need it. I got this." Accept yourself, warts and all because Christ already has.

 I know I have faults, I know I mess up, but God loves me as I am. Not some perfect future version of myself. Not my potential. But He loves and died for who I am. Right now.

If God can accept me as I am, then so can I. When I fail, I pick myself up and try to do better next time. No more laying face first to the earth, wallowing in my own self hatred.

That being said, I say a person can be humble and believe that they have greatness inside of them. No one ever achieved greatness until they believed it first. 

In Donald Miller's Storyline he shares a story that resonates this fact.

"Years ago I read a book by Dwight Eisenhower in which he talked about his mother's belief that every child should be raised to understand if they didn't exist their family would fall apart. Imagine that for a second. Imagine a world in which every person understood they were needed in the world, that they could be the solution to a problem. Eisenhower is best known for being President, but before he was President he led troops in World War II, uniting the allies in the fight against Hitler. And why? It's likely because he was raised to believe the world needed him and even expected something from him."

I believe there is greatness inside of me, that I am meant for great things. But more importantly there is greatness inside of YOU! I believe YOU are meant for great things. The world needs you.

An "awe shucks" attitude and self hatred won't get us there. Is there a story burning inside of you? A business? An idea for ministry that you are afraid to try because you think it's too big only for others? Do it! Seriously! There is a huge possibility that only you can.

Don't believe the lies. Humility is simply caring more about others, not caring less about yourself. Mine the gold from your soul. Go and be great. Please. The world needs you...really. I'll go with you.

I haven't updated this blog in awhile because I have been traveling. I traveled for sixteen hours in a car from the suburbs of Chicago to my home state of North Carolina. I went to be with my family to mourn the loss of my grandmother. 

This is nothing new. Everyone has lost loved ones. There was no tragedy that took her from us early. She was ready to go. In the days and weeks before she passed she spoke of being ready to go home and getting to see her husband and sisters again. I am happy for her and am in awe of her unshakable faith that she clung to all the way to the end.

We seem to all have this mistaken idea that a quiet life is not worth leading. That no one will champion a name that isn't famous. It is wrong to think that no one will tell stories about a life lived well in relative obscurity. 

My grandmother lived a quiet life. She was astonishingly humble. She never looked for praise or notoriety. She didn't seek fame or fortune. She was so quiet and sweet it wasn't until I looked back at her life as a whole that I realized how amazing she was. 

She was a teacher, first of English and of music. She passed a love of the written word to me. She was a breast cancer survivor and had a stroke that left her paralyzed on half of her body for most of her life. She was tough, but didn't have to yell to prove it, in fact I only heard her raise her voice in anger once in my thirty one years.

I only found this out after she passed that she wrote letters of encouragement to women with breast cancer. Ensuring them that there is life after cancer. Giving them hope, sharing peace with them. She kept this to herself never looking for accolades.

The love story that unfolded over the course of my grandparents life together is nothing short of awe-inspiring. A love story that was loyal and true. That lasted from the day they met until death stole him from her.

This is the legacy I have. It was passed to me. This humble sweet woman who lived in a small house on a farm in the middle of nowhere, who wasn't rich or famous. This is why I think this quiet life is worth celebrating, worth sharing here and now. In the weeks before she passed, sensing her time was short, she made phone calls to us. She called me and after letting me know that she will always love me, she told me to remember to always love everybody. To choose love. In the life we lead of rushing around, trying to make money and build our own empires...at the end what was important to her

That is the legacy. That is worth celebrating.

**I originally posted this over at my other blog http://thepaperskies.com on October 14, 2011. This is something that is true. Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments.

The famous French existentialist (and yes I find the idea of a famous existentialist to be very hilarious) Jean Paul Sartre is well known for the quote "Hell is other People."  I know, I know...people that frequent faith blogs might not be familiar with Sartre or existentialism but that's okay.  Give me grace please.

There was a time in my life when I believed this.  I felt that "Hell was other people."  Other people annoyed me, forced me out of my comfort zone, made me interact with those whose motives and feelings were a mystery to me.   Other people might disagree with my own philosophies and beliefs and once upon a time I could not handle that.

Now that I am older and questionably wiser I can see that heaven can be other people, too.  Not literally.  If you took that literally feel free to be offended.  There is no feeling in this world quite like someone looking you in the eyes and saying "I understand you."  The feeling that you don't have to fight for acceptance.  The feeling that no matter what socially awkward thing you do or say, you are accepted.  That is heaven of sorts, and quite possibly one of the closest things we'll find while standing on this earth.

This is why humility is so important.  This is why the bible has great phrases like "clothe yourself in humility" and "God opposes the proud but is close to the humble."  Because a truly humble person is so far removed from themselves they can so easily immerse themselves in the "other."   

For a bit of definition, a humble person is not some depressed person constantly going on and on about how they are nothing special, nothing important.  This person is deceived and quite focused on themselves.  A truly humble person is very comfortable in their own skin, completely happy to listen and show interest in what someone else has to say rather than just waiting for their turn to speak. 

When someone is humble they don't worry about being offended, they don't raise the battle cry when someone disagrees with them.  They are ready to fight every single moral battle that crosses them.  They love with the same undeserved love that was given them.

It is my prayer that I become this person one day.  And I am thankful that there is grace until that day.  It is a high calling to see the beauty inside the heart of another.  To call out the gold that is there, hiding just below the surface waiting to be found.  

How has your life been changed by feeling accepted?
How can you make a difference in someone life by accepting without condition?