Your parenting storiesI don’t know a woman who hasn’t had the life choked right out of her by the jealousy that can get a throttle-hold when she’s innocently scrolling Facebook. We all need the reminder that the Internet is Not the Boss of Us. My friend, Michelle DeRusha writes with an unvarnished honesty about this subject that we don’t always want to admit out loud that we struggle with. I’m incredibly grateful for her willingness to share what she’s learning.

Words and glorious photos by Michelle DeRusha.

Grass Path Prairie

I sent my husband a text yesterday. A really short text, comprised of just a symbol and a number:

#268,304.

I didn’t need to elaborate. Brad knew. This is the kind of conversation we’ve been having for a while now.

“I would love you the same if you only sold one,” he texted right back.

I smiled. My husband’s patience and encouragement is as deep as the Marianas Trench.

#268,304 was my Amazon book rank that day. The number goes up and down, but mostly it’s been rising steadily since my memoir, Spiritual Misfit, was published back in April. As I’ve had to remind my mother, “Bigger is not better,” at least when it comes to your book’s Amazon rank.

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I’d love to tell you that I’m okay with this, that I’ve surrendered the book to God and am at peace knowing everything is in his good and gracious hands. But that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

The whole truth is that I surrender one hour and then check my Amazon rank the next. And while I’m there, I check the ranks of a half-dozen other books released by friends around the same time as mine.

I’m at peace one hour and mired in the muck of envy and despair the next.

I’ve waged hand-to-hand combat with the green-eyed monster along every step of this journey to book publishing.

I’ve envied the writers who had an agent when I didn’t.

I’ve envied the writers who landed book contracts when I couldn’t.

I’ve envied friends who have sold more books and have more followers, more consistent writing jobs and a better book rank than I do.

If I’m brutally honest with myself, much of this envy stems from my own lack of confidence and my struggle to find my place in this blogosphere. On most days it seems I’m not edgy enough to fit with the controversial Christians. I’m not Jesus-y enough to fit with the evangelical Christians. I’m not scholarly enough to fit with the theological Christians.

I’m a misfit, just like the title says.

I spend an unhealthy amount of time and energy trying to squeeze myself into a particular group – to write more like they do, to think more like they do, to act more like they do. When I inevitably fail, the envy ratchets up yet another notch. And that envy gives rise to even uglier feelings of worthlessness, bitterness and failure.

Friends – and believe me, I’m preaching as much (more!) to myself as I am to you – we don’t need to do this to ourselves.

We don’t need to make ourselves look or act or write like anyone else.

We don’t need to push and pull and squeeze ourselves into a box, a definition, that doesn’t fit.

We don’t need to mold and contort ourselves into shapes and sizes that pinch and prick.

We don’t need to tell ourselves, “If only I could write/look/talk/be like her, then I would be successful, then everything would be good.”

We don’t need to envy someone else’s status, or book sales, or rank, or title or dress size.

Because this, friends, is the Truth:

God’s kingdom, both in heaven and right here on earth, is a spacious place – infinitely broad, infinitely wide, infinitely deep, with room enough for everyone. God doesn’t want us to force ourselves into someone else’s place; He wants us to embrace a much bigger, much roomier place than that.

God yearns for us to enter into his glorious, wide-open spacious place.

My kids and I like to hike in a nature sanctuary called Spring Creek Prairie a few miles outside of town where gold finches swoop, sunflowers bloom wild and the tall bluestem tickles our knees.

Grass and Sky

Edited Praire Grave and Sky

Rowaningrassedited

We always walk the same route. We climb the path toward the top of the hill, the dirt beneath our feet still rutted from the covered wagons that jostled through these plains more than 100 years ago. We marvel at just how much unfettered, unsullied space unfurls long and wide, all the way to the horizon. Here we are, in twenty-first-century America, our global population exploding by the minute, and yet this vast, wide-open space still thrives, pulsing, abundant, alive.

You might not believe such a place still exists…unless you you were to see it with your own eyes, with your arms opened wide and your head tipped back toward the sky.

You might not believe such a wide-open space exists, unless you stepped into that place to see and experience and live it for yourself.

Friends, let’s step into the wide-open space God has prepared for us.

Let’s step into it with our eyes wide, our arms open, our heads tipped back toward the sky. Let’s breathe in the spaciousness, the vastness, the bounty that is there and that is God.

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“I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!”

2 Corinthians: 11-13, The Message.

Step in. There’s room enough and more for all of us here.

MichelleatLaityA Massachusetts native, Michelle DeRusha moved to Nebraska in 2001, where she discovered the Great Plains, grasshoppers the size of Cornish hens … and God. She is the author of Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith and 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith (releasing September 16, 2014). She’s mom to two bug-loving boys, Noah and Rowan, and is married to Brad, an English professor who reads Moby Dick for fun. You can connect with Michelle on her blog and on Twitter and Facebook.

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