When you publish a book, marketing people come out of the woodwork to sell you their services. Their respective pitches never vary. They all say they can deliver you the tools necessary to promote you and your product. For an extra fee, they will get the word out – to far fewer people than the fee would indicate. Above all, they give identity advice.
Brand yourself, they advise. Promote an image. Show people who you are. Sounds good, but well into adulthood I’m still not entirely sure who I am. I’ve always been guilty of looking outward to discover who I should be, what I should enjoy, and who I should like. That feeling is likely multiplied exponentially for kids who are growing up in the roiling storm of social media.
I spent a childhood and young adulthood running away from what is now my “brand” – Messy Pastor’s Kid. The accompanying photo of my desk as it looked when I wrote this post attests to the suitability of that brand. Creativity is, for me, an untidy process. I write better with a little chaos on my desk. Conversely, I don’t function well in a chaotic environment. The uncertainty of 2020 has bled into 2021, and my mind and spirit are troubled. There remains within me a spiritual mess, a failure to trust God with my earthly life. Am I the only person who fully trusts Him to raise me from death for life eternal but can’t seem to muster the faith to rely on Him for the temporal, earthly stuff?
Thank you for your comments this past year about my book. I began a sequel of sorts this week. Your own reflections and comments about church discomfort and hurt, feelings of exclusion, and love for Christ but dislike for some of His people struck a chord with me because I’ve been there, too. And I’ll be there again. The new project will be about navigating an earthly church that is wonderful and essential but also hard and discouraging. How a number of my fellow believers have let me down and how I’ve reciprocated by adding my own unworthiness to the mix. That’s my brand. Still messy. Still flailing. Still saved by incomparable grace.