There is also a pitfall to this craving for affirmation, and it is one that both the original article and the video for the song point to: when we live for the applause rather than for ourselves, it leads us further and further away from who we are (note that Lady Gaga has several moments in the video where she looks almost deranged--living for applause is making her crazy!). Applause in our culture is very fickle, and unless I continually talk up my own achievements or conform to the most recent fad, it is also very fleeting.
It is so very easy to fall into the trap of constantly seeking affirmation. I've actually been trying to refrain from posting about my exercising/races on Facebook because my nephew once tagged a post #humblebrag. His tag had the sting of truth, and that little response was enough to make me think more about what and why I'm posting on Facebook, or even here. Am I writing because I want to see more traffic on my blog, because I want to see who is "like"-ing my posts, or because I really have something to say? I'm not immune to doing the same thing in person either, though. To my chagrin, I worked that I had run a race before coming to dinner on Thanksgiving day into the conversation. It was entirely unnecessary to even mention it unless I wanted my family to ooh and aah over my discipline, and I should have kept my mouth shut.
|Ginger and me at the Turkey Trot. I couldn't resist adding a picture...|
Like the Bible says,
“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your alms-giving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you." --Matt 6: 1-6 (NAB)
It's not like I expect God to reward me for running, although He does all the time through the sheer joy of it. It's also not like my running times are anything to really brag about. I get done faster than the people that are walking these races, but just barely! I know that some would say that I'm still lapping the people who are still on the couch, but is rubbing my new-found active lifestyle a valid way to motivate them to join me? I don't think so. The principle of the above verses is still valid--If "I live for the applause" as Lady Gaga sings, I'm doing it wrong.
Instead, I want to have more of the attitude of this song, Katy Perry's Roar (The above video is more cute than racy, so it should be safe to watch around kids as far as I can tell). It is the difference between saying, "look what I did." and *shrugs* "Of course I did. I'm a runner." I'm still working on transitioning from the first to the second, and I'm sure that I will have the occasional slip up like what happened on Thanksgiving. I guess it's hard not to brag when something is so integral to my personal healing process... In the year since the divorce was final, I believe that building my identity as a runner has been a means for me to repair my identity of myself as a woman, as a human being, and as someone worthy of respect and basic decency. It is something that I cherish, and because of that, something that I want to share with those that I love. And lastly, it is something that this Katy Perry song exemplifies. I'm stronger and more healed than I have ever been in my life, and I can't help but want to share that... Not for the applause, but for the sheer joy of being closer to what God intended me to be than I have ever been in my life. All the glory goes to Him, but please rejoice with me about it!
"So look at me: I'm sparkling!"