Last night, I drove three hours to watch one of my favorite friends play a packed venue, & the entire show was a dream. The energy of the crowd hung in the air all night, & every moment of the music was incredible. But concert hype, as infectious as it is, wasn’t the catalyst for my happiness. Honestly, I was just proud to celebrate my friend.
A few years ago, this story would have gone much differently. I would have gone to the show, of course — but I would have missed the joy of the moment in favor of taking notes & keeping score. I used to buy into the hype, but never the celebration. See, for a long time, I thought I needed to compete with people. My mixed up soul viewed relationships as connections to be made rather than friendships to be cherished. Watching a friend rise to new levels of success couldn’t be celebrated, because I was busy being swept away in an undercurrent of jealousy. The secret places of my heart didn’t want anyone to find a bigger platform than me, to accrue more Twitter followers or travel to more cities. At the end of the day, I wanted to be selfish with the spotlight. But in the middle of my secret competition, I lost my community.
Striving for the spotlight is a quest that will never end, because brighter lights & bigger stages are always just out of reach. No matter how tightly you grasp it, you’ll always end up empty. Our hearts weren’t made for the spotlight. Our hearts were made for the quiet places. The genuine places. The honest places. The places where community dwells. When I stopped trying to win & started choosing to love, I found those places. And my heart has never been the same.
The most rewarding — and most challenging — exchange I’ve made is turning in the phrase “jealous of” & exchanging it with “happy for.” Celebrating others brings joy into your community. Even more than that, it brings joy to your own heart, in the very places that were once filled with striving. Now more than ever, I’m watching the ones I love be elevated to new heights, better opportunities, & greater platforms. I’ve never been prouder. I have a front row seat to viral blog posts, sold out shows, & career promotions. There are a thousand causes for celebration.
If you need me, I’ll be in the audience, beaming.