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A Dilemma, A Prayer, And An Answer

The Dilemma

I recently wrote about my revelation that the life I’ve been yearning for has been in front of me for years. In that post, I shared that I want to withdraw from the online business rat race, that I’ve recently recovered a deep sense of joy and peace that I lost years ago.

Since writing that post, however, I’ve encountered a problem. After a nice, long (for me) period of rest, after my shoulders began to improve significantly and I began to want to be more active, my mind kicked back into high gear, as well.

It brought back the urge to teach, the feeling that I’m supposed to somehow share my knowledge and life experiences with other people.

At the same time, I don’t want to get sucked back into online marketing. Which is another part of the dilemma. These days, you can’t just start a blog or a YouTube channel, or publish a book on Amazon, and attract an audience without doing a lot of marketing.

For blogs, that means diddling around on Pinterest an hour or two every day, and/or working your buns off and/or shelling out big bucks to get backlinks to your site. For YouTube, that means committing to uploading at least one video a week, on topics a lot of people are searching for, and making the videos as appealing and “shareworthy” as possible. For books, it means spending a lot of money on advertising.

The thought of doing any one of those activities brings a twinge in my gut that means I’m going the wrong way. Also, engaging in those activities would pull me right back into competition mode. Not to mention that my eyes strain very easily when I’m on the computer, so most of the above activities can actually be deleterious to my eye health.

Competing with other people not only stresses me out, but it makes me feel guilty, as well. A lot of people who are saying the same things that I want to say genuinely need the attention of others, because that attention brings them the money they’re counting on to feed their families.

Could I just set up a YouTube channel and upload whenever and whatever I felt like? Or use this blog as a teaching vehicle? Write whatever books I want to teach whatever I want to get across, and just put them up for free without marketing them?

Sure, and all those ideas appeal to me.

But if I don’t engage in the appropriate marketing for each thing, my message would only ever reach a handful of people. Some might say, “Well, Emily, you should just believe God that those are the people who are supposed to consume your content.”

No offense, but that’s what I call a Christian cop-out. Taking the easy way out, then saying, “I’m believing God,” is the most effective way not to impact the world.

I guess my dilemma is, how do I promote my message without A, feeling like I’m unfairly competing, B, feeling like I’m promoting myself (as opposed to giving God the glory), and C, losing my peace over it – as I have ever since diving into the world of online business?

Maybe I’m supposed to just spend time praying every day for other people trying to spread the same messages that I want to?

But that sounds like a cop-out, too. After all, faith without works is dead.

See my dilemma?

The prayer

I was about to complete this blog post with the following:

Feel free to share your thoughts about it in the comments section. I’m all ears (er, eyes, I mean).

Of course, you are perfectly free to share your thoughts. 😉 But a few hours after I’d written that invitation and walked away from the article, thinking I was done with it, it occurred to me to pray about the dilemma.

I know that we are to be interdependent, not islands onto ourselves. We’re supposed to sometimes seek godly counsel. But number one, I hadn’t yet seriously prayed over the dilemma before writing about it. And number two, I think it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t require many counselors.

So I prayed. Sat silently.

Listened.

The answer

And, I got an answer.

Take one day at a time.

I knew it had to be God, since Yeshua instructs His followers to take no thought for tomorrow, because today has enough troubles of its own. The advice is really difficult for people like me, who have a natural tendency, even enthusiasm, for planning for the future.

Yet, I can plan for the next several months, and still pray each day what I’m supposed to do. Today, shall I make a YouTube video? About what? Write a blog post? Start a new novel?

That took care of the first part of my dilemma. But there still remained my instinctive dislike for marketing.

I sat on that for a day, and began to wonder if the red flags I’ve been feeling toward the online marketing sphere have been more about my disinclination to engage with people than about God trying to tell me that I shouldn’t spend my time marketing.

Two different thoughts helped me here. First, God knows the world isn’t perfect. He knows what it’s become, and if He gives a specific person a specific message that He wants widespread, He knows that marketing is going to have to happen. So if I believe a certain message is from God, and is supposed to help a large piece of the population, He’s not going to be against my marketing efforts. I just have to make sure that when I am in the world, I don’t become like the world.

The second thought had to do with what I read in the book A Year Of Living Prayerfully. The author provided more than one quote, and more than one commentary, that reminded me that believers who want to follow hard after Yeshua are going to be active in sharing themselves and their faith with the world. A classic book by Andrew Murray on obedience that I subsequently read confirmed those thoughts.

Again, faith without works is dead.

What it all comes down to…

I need to trust the Lord to guide me every day. And if I have zero peace or joy about a certain activity, I need to pray to make sure it’s not just my own fear.

And no matter what, if something doesn’t lift up Yeshua, or if it pulls me away from Him, I need to run away from it as fast and as far as I can.

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