Setting the Stage for an Audience of One
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; - William Shakespeare
Every morning I get out of bed and step onto the stage of my life. In the crowd, I see my people.
Directly in front of me sits my family. My extended family sits a few rows beyond them. I catch a glimpse of my friends hanging out in the back. Moving to the right of the stage, I see my church family. I glance to the left of the stage, I see my hairdresser and the waitress from my favorite Mexican place. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter friends are just behind them. Sprinkled around the room are other acquaintances and my neighbor with the dog from across the street.
My life is a stage, and every day the show is sold out.
When Shakespeare wrote the famous line, “All the world’s a stage,” he couldn’t have possibly known how true that statement would be 421 years later in our social media age. We are surrounded on all sides, and now, the stage has grown to include virtual strangers. Our lives over time have become performance-driven. With that drive, comes lots of hiccups.
Have you ever been caught in a comparison trap? This trap is laid by the enemy to keep us insecure and intimidated. I’ve been there. Even when I thought I was old enough for comparison problems to be a thing of the past, I found myself struggling again not to compare myself to others. I’m learning comparison traps have nothing to do with our age and everything to do with where our eyes are focused.
Comparison is easy in this age of social platforms, begging us to promote ourselves. In some ways, we can’t get around “promoting ourselves.” For those of us working and ministering in the virtual world, likes, comments, shares, and followers are all a part of a necessary equation. But they do not own us. Maybe your social media accounts are simply for pleasure, but after a few years on Instagram, they’re causing more discontentment than joy. This doesn’t have to be your story. We get to do the hard work of building community on social media platforms without being trapped by lies about our worth, abilities, and efforts. Because we know that our lives are directed by our loving Father who has already called us, “good.”
As we stand on the stages of our lives, we must be careful of another trap. It’s a common snare, “people-pleasing.” Maybe you’ve heard of it? I have been trapped here often. The need to please people can be debilitating, keeping us from the things God is calling us to. Such a clever scheme of our enemy. He keeps us looking to each other for approval and our eyes off the One who’s approval matters.
I’ve struggled people-pleasing probably more than comparison, and I’ve struggled with comparison a lot. I’m an easily intimidated person. This struggle has been with me for most of my life. A few years back God did a deep work in this area of my life, and most days I feel like I have somewhat of a handle on my people-pleasing tendencies. Then sometimes out of nowhere, I’ll find myself paralyzed by someone’s opinion of me or of a decision I’ve made. It’s in these moments that I realize I have taken my eyes of the Truth God has planted in my heart. I’m looking for others to give me their seal of approval when that job belongs to God alone.
How Do We Live For One?
What would happen if I step up onto the stage of my life and instead of seeing friends, family, and strangers only Jesus is sitting there? What would I see?
I believe I'd see an expectant friend. As I stepped off that stage, I could rest knowing that no matter how well I performed I would be welcomed in the embrace of unconditional love.
When my eyes are on Jesus, every other person, place, project, and thing fades. This is what it means to live for an audience of one. No matter how the “performance” is going or what people are saying (or thinking), God is the only person who matters.
Friends, I would encourage you today to set your eyes on Jesus. Let everyone else blur into the background, not because they’re not important, but because there is one who’s opinion outweighs all the others.
The crowd will always be there. You’ll always find them looking back at you, but in their midst, you’ll see One greater- the One who truly matters. And, friends, He will be looking on with love. I promise.
Is this your struggle too? Comment below and tell me I'm not alone in the struggle!
Verses For Further Study:
Hebrews 12:1-3, ESV: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Galatians 6:4, ESV: But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
Galatians 1:10, ESV: For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Colossians 3:1-4, ESV: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.