Getting Attention

Art by Laurie Anne Sikorowski, used by permission.
Art by Laurie Anne Sikorowski, used by permission.

This morning I read this and thought I heard God say, “This is better than any blog post you could write today. Post this and go jog instead.”

I harrumphed, and then agreed. Yet another way to quit deeper, right? I hope you get as much from this as I did.

Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.

Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.

The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.

One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.

It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give–Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Mark Nepo is a cancer survivor, a poet, and philosopher.

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Author: Heather Kopp at SoberBoots.com

Heather Kopp is an author and blogger who writes about the intersection of addiction and faith. Her memoir about her recovery, Sober Mercies, was published by Jericho, a new imprint of HBG (Hachette Book Group) in Spring 2013.

37 thoughts on “Getting Attention”

  1. Thus as a way to protect our eyes and boost our
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  2. Needed to hear this today Heather 🙂 Your words really spoke to me “One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. ” …resting in God’s grace and love and what’s clear and true ! Thanks:)

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  3. Oh my gosh, thank you for this post! LOVE it and relate to it too well so this was GREAT to read and challenge myslef with. Thank you! I’ve never heard of your blog before but now I can’t wait to read more!

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  4. When a post like this touches you spirit all I can say is… thank you Lord for sending me to this blog and connecting with a wonderful person like Heather. I’m now part of a family of givers.

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  5. I came to this post from somewhere else, probably Momastery. I find your post very meaningful in this day and age of kids, especially upper- and middle-class ones, being expected to always compete and excel and win awards and medals. I live in a community where it seems like every child is a prize-winning athlete, except mine, who prefer to spend their time creating things and being a good friend. Thank you for a breath of fresh air!

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  6. Thanks for highlighting love. Despite it possibly seeming selfish, the essence of love is first receiving it from God who is love. Then we will have true love to give to others as his love is poured out through us.

    In its” absence, we will try to fill the holes in our soul’s with combinations of wealth, pleasure, honour and/or power. Ultimately, they all give us the power to live life in our own strength (life by the flesh versus life by the Spirit).

    It can seem counterintuitive, but we will find peace, joy, and ultimately love, by resting in the finished work of Jesus, and learning to receive, not strive.

    The bible speaks of us in Christ 10 times more than Him in us. Living inside the atmosphere and means of grace and truth. Is grace opposed to effort? No. Grace is opposed to earning!

    One more question. These days, “relationship versus religion” is a common catch phrase. But so is “unconditional love”. Can love be conditional? Only on the receiver. The condition is that we must choose to receive it. Otherwise we engage in mutually beneficial arrangements that we call love. Love is willing the good of the other for the sake of the other. God demonstrates and models that perfectly.

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  7. Yep, right on target as usual, and no I have not been studying this one so much as I have simply been studying how to keep my mouth shut and my ears open. Both of which seem to be beyond my ability at present. ::-P

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  8. This of course is stellar writing Heather and the “sober mercy” for me just now was to observe counter-intuitive deference (yours) which most addicts (I’m a recovering one) don’t have on a consistent basis. That is because many of our moments are drowning ones where the temptation is to grab and lunge towards floating pieces of anything forgetting that “thing” you thought was a a saving log was another hurting soul suffocating under the weight of their own sadness. The healing Franciscan Catholic course for me these days came about because I couldn’t be a part anymore of an Evangelical (it could have been Mormon or Jewish too) melodrama for which I had moments of a leading role (in only one of the five dramatic acts) and knew that a blistered soul always cried out for the simple not sensational… ordinary not obscene…the deeply spiritual not superficial….and… in those moments…when a thousand late night confessions to the only Father I had who didn’t make his point with a fist or in some horrific seasons some incestuous interlude…there was peace…if only for a moment.
    The serenity comes as you know when we not only work steps but ask poignant questions in the face of shifting sands of destruction like…”Did I cause it?” Can I control it?” “May I cure it?” Those questions are tattooed on my soul and psyche for regular access each day.
    You don’t need me to make a “penetrating look into the totally obvious” Heather as you and David are icebreakers and “change makers” and the Evil One hates that. For that reason and personal respect from afar…the Kopps are now part of my three times a day prayer regimen which my dear octogenarian Christian mother (two time cancer survivor) believes may suggest I am becoming a Muslim. 🙂 But she reads WORLD magazine and likes John McArthur. So I lovingly get it. 🙂 Namaste….

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    1. Thanks for this amazing reply. I love this bit about your mom at the end. Thank you for praying for us!! Wow. That means a lot. I love the way you write, so free and honest and streaming. The post says Anonymous, but I’m pretty sure it’s Butch. Am I right? 🙂

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      1. Yes its Butch and thanks for your response here Heather. My real name is “Dwight” which was eclipsed long ago when an Air Force pilot dad used to cut the boys hair with hand held clippers rendering a “Butch” haircut. I guess D.L. Moody was my namesake. He liked cigars. Good for him.

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  9. Oh wow; just yesterday I was ruminating on my need to “be noticed” and then heard from The Lord “be the noticer”. O-O. Good good good stuff.

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  10. Wow. Wow. Wow. I literally stopped what I was doing to just let this marinate in my being. These words are words that I needed to hear just now. Thank you, Heather, for sending them my way this morning.

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  11. This fits so well with what I’m reading and thinking about right now, Heather, so thanks for listening to God’s word on this. Just this morning I read, in Marlena Graves’ A Beautiful Disaster, about the need to seek God in solitude & secret whenever we start craving attention, so that we don’t harm our community by the sickness of our souls. And a relationship conflict I’ve been struggling with is slowly crystallizing around this whole idea of seeking attention and the limelight for unhealthy reasons. “Fame or peace”? That’s a stark choice. Thank you so much for sharing another piece from Mark Nepo; I’d never heard of him before I started reading your blog and I’ve checked out quite a bit of his poetry and reflections since then.

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  12. Very good. Once again God is sending me a message from many directions, and you always seem to be part of that message 🙂 I recently asked him to show more of himself so there would be less of me in the picture. And he is. Yay.

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