Thursday, June 27, 2013

"an audience of One..."

"Now I live, and I breathe,
for an audience of One."

I've used Sara Groves' "This Journey is My Own," as the keynote for a post from a couple of summers ago, but I'm not that girl -- and this is not that summer.

Rather than this being a song of encouragement for the "me" who I was then -- someone battling a desire to take the pulse of, please, and gain the approval of others. This post is about the kind of freedom that comes with living for "an audience of One."

And those "others" I was always living my life for, also seemed to include me. I wanted my own approval. I wanted to be the kind of person that I would admire. But I have discovered that -- in many cases -- this wasn't any different than wanting the approval of a family member, a friend, a community, or the world.

When I am trying to live my life in a way that I think will please others, I assume I've figured out what they want. Having an ultimate version of me in mind, I was always trying to move towards it. Whether it was to be the kind of person I've alway imagined myself to be, or the kind of person I think someone else wants from me, I've got got my sights set on something besides, "Thy will be done."

In that version of living, there's a legacy I'd like to leave, a mother I think my children would like me to be, a "someone" or "something" I could become that would please others. It is neither peaceful or inspired.

But then I look at the lives of the men and women I most admire and I realize that there is no way they could have been trying to please anyone -- even themselves -- besides God. Whether it's Jesus' willingness to disappoint his disciples -- by not praying himself free from the crucifixion, Mary Baker Eddy's loving response to her students' betrayal, or Mandela's stand for peace in the face of a nation's right to feel justifiable anger, it is clear to me that their journeys -- in moments of "choice" -- were strictly between them and God. And it was their intent to yield to, and please Him -- and Him alone.

How often are we urged to give -- or take -- advise about what should be done according to our own, or another's, best thinking about an issue, choice, or decision. It's hard, once someone tells us what they think is best, to take a different path. Their best thinking can only be right for them, and how they carry out their own choices, responsibilities, and decisions. I trust this. I can' help -- even when being invited to weigh in on someone's choices -- but remember the Philips Brooks' quote which reads:

""God has not given us vast learning
to solve all the problems,
or unfailing wisdom
to direct all the wanderings
of our brothers’ lives;
but He has given
to every one of us
the power to be spiritual,
and by our spirituality
to lift and enlarge
and enlighten
the lives we touch."

Mary Baker Eddy noted, in her own hand -- following the appearance of this statement on a document found in her papers -- "The secret to my life is in the above."

I am trying to make it mine as well. For me, "to be spiritual" is to trust that we are all God-created, God-inspired, God-impelled, God-governed, and God-sent into every moment, situation, opportunity. It is the deep imperative, the call to go to God -- only -- for direction, guidance, and approval. It is the privilege of knowing that none of us is so wise, so powerful, or so self-determined as to be able to separate ourselves from Him, take our lives into our own hands, and make mistakes.

Even my own well-honed opinions about what I should, or shouldn't, do -- if not taken freshly to God in prayer -- can be just another outgrown best practice, and not the inspiration of the great IAM who is always present, in the present.

I am trying to be especially conscious of the subtle invitation to suggest how I think someone else might think or act -- or to judge their motives or actions. For me, it seems to fly in the face of the kind of trust that Mary Baker Eddy encourages in the second line of her "Daily Prayer," which reads:

"And may Thy Word
enrich the affections of all mankind,
and govern them."

When we trust God's Word -- working as a moral agent in the heart of every man, woman, and child -- to enrich the affections for good, for His sense of what is right, for His plan for each of us, and for His path in pursuing it, we are free from the weight of trying to please ourselves or others. Only God -- always God. An audience of One.

shared with affection,



  1. "The cell is an ideal place to learn to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the process of your own mind and feelings. In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education. These are, of course, important in measuring one’s success in material matters and it is perfectly understandable if many people exert themselves mainly to achieve all these. But internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being." - Nelson Mandela

  2. Anonymous10:39 AM

    I have been thinking about this blog for the past week. I so appreciate the thoughts you've shared. I often find myself struggling with this very thing you said here, "It's hard, once someone tells us what they think is best, to take a different path. Their best thinking can only be right for them,". I get caught up with others' opinions and thoughts of what is right for me, and then I have to reign myself in and remind myself that I only need to listen to His voice and follow His leadings. Thank you so much for the reminder that God is our only audience. xo

  3. Anonymous7:13 AM

    Love it, love it , love it......every single word is worth its weight in gold....