The Affairs of the Civilian Life…what an odd blog post title. Come on, I know that thought just went through your head. Its cool. Honestly, I thought the same thing when I was deciding on how to title this post. What are the affairs of the civilian life and how do they have anything to do with this month’s blog entry?
Well, let me back track a bit. Last month, my writing efforts were beginning to materialize. I got what seemed to be some exciting news regarding my book from a handful of publishers. One publisher offered an insightful critique and assistance with next steps. Another scheduled a face-to-face meeting for me to travel to Maryland to discuss the prospect of working on publication. I was flat out offered a publishing contract by yet one more publisher! I couldn’t have been more thrilled. But as is customary in every tale to glory, there were a few bumps down the road hidden by all the dust I kicked up in my race to authorship.
As I began to tweeze through these offers and inspect their fruit more closely, they tasted less sweet than the initial bite. Subsequently after much prayer and consideration as well as some wise words from one of my editor friends, I reluctantly decided to move on.
Staggered but not defeated, I redirected my attention toward another previously dormant option, building my platform. For those unaware, the term currently being coined as “building your platform”, is a way in which a person seeks to promote their entrepreneurial endeavors, artistic pursuits, and any other aspirations by means of establishing a public persona.
Michael Hyatt of michaelhyatt.com, a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, blogger, and platform building guru in his own right, puts it this way: “Having an awesome product, an outstanding service, or a compelling cause is no longer enough.” In this age of tech savvy, swipe-ability, YOU have to sell what’s worth buying. My mind began to swirl with ideas of how I could tackle this feat head on. In my initial efforts to build my own platform, I allowed my fingers to hover over the contact number of a friend I knew was gifted in web design. I began each brainstorming session mulling over what I genuinely had to offer. I couldn’t ignore how the “it” factor of every site I visited was almost blinding.
In the midst of all these dizzying options, I mentally stacked my book against these must-haves for the complete package. Regrettably, it was looking like it was no longer enough on its own. I reasoned, there’s so much required to be heard in this noisy world. Every sign was pointing to the fact that what I put out has to go beyond simply writing a cute story that celebrates the unique experience of being a child of color and the excellencies of God. Before I knew it, I woke up one day almost fully submerged in the sinking sands of worry and unhealthy comparison over my perceived inability to build a platform. To note, I hadn’t even nailed down the first floor boards of this all consuming platform yet I still had managed to count myself out.
Enter explanation for this seemingly strange blog title, stage right. God intervened.
Like the good Father He is, God decided to interrupt my internal grappling session and counter with His eternal words from His eternal book. As I sat on my couch bundled in a blanket and bathrobe, because my husband insists that all is not right in the world unless the thermometer is set to sub-zero, I picked up my Bible and read a portion of a letter from the Apostle Paul.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul’s son in the faith, Paul leads with remarkably pointed words. Bear in mind, Timothy, a young pastor at the time was dealing with his own dilemma of building, establishing, and tackling an overwhelming task. In verse one of chapter two, Paul wrote, “Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus.” A little later in verse four of the same chapter, he advised, “Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.”
When I finished reading, I thought about my own weighty undertaking. Of course I’m not a neophyte pastor of an entire church like Timothy was by any stretch of the imagination. But I am a called out individual for the King’s service nonetheless. Because I wholeheartedly believe that God’s words are never wasted, I had to sit and ponder over the centuries’ old marching orders I just read anew. I was now faced with the duty to obey as a good soldier should.
I asked myself, what would strength through the grace God gives look like as I write and build? And how could I possibly avoid getting tied-up in the affairs of civilian life while carrying out the duties as a multi-faceted soldier? Some of these duties entail the role of wife, mother, homeschooler, and now writer. Commencement on the construction of any platform, would necessitate full reliance on God to strengthen my persistance in the face of anonymity.
Could it be that this was never truly “my” platform to build in the first place?
The wheels of my mind continued to turn and ask, how could I use strength belonging to Another in order to apply my war paint as a soldier? Thus far, any attempts on my behalf at avoiding being tied-up by the affairs of civilian life were close to non-existent. Thesaurus.com lists some synonyms for the term tied up as being to hog-tie, hamper, delay, and shackle. The Roman soldier of the 1st Century was probably the individual the Apostle Paul had in mind as he counseled Timothy. These men were highly trained and disciplined. They were used to being away from the comforts of home for long periods of time. A soldier couldn’t afford to linger too long over thoughts of what loved ones back home were doing.
As I contemplated my own enlistment, the hampering civilian affairs of my life were becoming more apparent. The glaring reality is that in moving forward, if I’m not careful, my preoccupation with likes, shares, retweets, comments, and followers will continue to hog-tie me. The shackles of unhealthy comparison will render me useless. And the idolization of public renown will delay what really matters when it comes to writing. This simple but powerful truth is one that would allow me to receive the hard but loving words of a good friend who later challenged me to re-evaluate what God considers to be a success in His economy.
As I got up to fold and store my blanket, an air of hope began to lift my sunken heart. The unshakeable reality is that my God appointed task of soldiering on whether in the world of writing, homeschooling, mothering, or anything else, would not be thwarted because I am in His service. When tempted to be dismayed by the daunting business of platform building or any other future mission in which I embark, I need only be reminded of the ancient words from a seasoned veteran to an untested greenhorn.
Thanks for reading. If you liked this blog post and want to read more in the future, do this gal a favor and hit that “follow” button! Better yet, why don’t you help to further construction on my platform by sharing this post while you’re at it. 😉
I can’t wait to talk with you guys again. Until next time friends…