known versus knowing

I'm hearing it all around me. 
The bad news that we are building a culture, a generation, that is obsessed with being known. We apparently desire fame, we build our identities on mountains of likes & followers, and our kids? When they list their dream jobs, they say - celebrity. It's not the thing they want to do to change the world that pushes their heart, but the being known for it. 

And I am the first to say, I get it. 
A few years ago, I was a baby blogger, constantly just updating the world with my thoughts, unsure of who was listening or if it mattered that I had anything to say. I'd see those more well known than me interacting on twitter or listen to them speak at conferences, and something would well up inside of me and feel tingly and hope - hope - hope that one day people would look and listen to me. And I hoped it for the good reasons, I genuinely believed, so I could give God much glory and inspire and encourage. But I had to be known first, right? 

The truth of it is, a few years and several thousand followers later, I am still not known. I was listening to Tsh and Shaun Groves' recent podcast as they talked about fame, and I was so comforted and so discouraged by their words all at once. Shaun said that his few years of fame were more damaging to his soul than anything else in his life - and they both commented on how backwards it is for our souls to be known and not know in return. I feel that in my gut and I know that a) with each follower gained, I am not more known or understood - I often feel more isolated and less able to share and b) something inside of me deeply longs to know people back. 

This is why I think the message of influence is SO important. Desiring to use your influence, rather than build your own fame, is a game changer. When we want to make the most of the influence God has given us, we recognize that the influential way we treat our children or our spouses or our best friend is just as  life shifting as the way we tweet to thousands or speak to hundreds. This is not lip service for me and I believe it with every shred of my being. I believe that the hand I firmly place on my husband's forearm in the midst of his hard day is as influential as the most life giving words I could ever muster up to write to the thousands. The more value someone places on your voice and your presence, the more incredibly influential you are in their life, thus the more they are able to take what you give them and share it with the rest of the world. 

So while I think it's good and worthy to utilize our influence, wield it for the glory of God or the sake of the dream we're pursuing - I want to know the firm boundary lines. I need firm structure that keeps me from gathering up the whole sum of my perceived approval or visibility and calling that "known" or replacing my identity with it. Moreover, when my head hits the pillow at night - I want to be certain that I'm certain that I've known others more than I've been "known" or seen myself. 

I want to know, for the most part, how my sister and my mom are doing and how I can pray for them. I want to remember the exact fleck of gold that is in my oldest son's eyes. I want to have seen that shadow cross over my friend's face when she mentioned that thing, so I can remember to go back and ask her about it and be there for her. I don't want to know (or care) how many people unfollowed me on instagram that day or what the general response was to that thing I put on Facebook. While I'm grateful for influence and the call to wield it for God's glory, I'd rather know than be known, and I don't think those things are mutually exclusive. 

The future starts now, with us. The studies they'll do five years from now, ten years from now, on our kids and our kid's kids? We dictate how they'll come out. With hope I am declaring that I'll do my part and use my voice to make sure they don't say that our obsession with psuedo-celebrity only snowballed and that we laid down influence for fickle and false bits of fame. Today, whether you're known by thousands or you're known by dozens - you have the opportunity to KNOW ever before you. I pray that we, starting with me, live lives of such dedication to knowing + loving + being. This way, when we step on our platforms of influence - what is seen is an overflow of reality and passion rather than us getting it backwards with the bulk of our time being documented and known, with small dips into the well of seeing and hearing others. 

I'd rather be know than be known, 
and I have a feeling you're with me. 
Are you with me? 
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Today marks the day we start selling tickets for our third annual Influence conference. If you're not aware of what Influence is about - it's about allllllll this. We want to help women make their online life mean something, help them grow their creative endeavors and steward their influence, and we are also all about the gospel at the core of who we are. We'd love to have you.