The Goodness Of Obscurity

Our cultural ambition is to be known. 

In a digital age, driven by consumerism and status, being known is usually poorly substituted for being famous. We’ve heard the cliche speeches pontificating about the evils of basing your self-worth on the number of followers and likes you receive. As cliche as the lectures often are, the truth that weaves itself through is that we have created our own shaky standards for what it means to be known. 

We’re driven by the fear of being hidden, unknown. But what if obscurity is not only good every once in a while – what if that’s where goodness actually dwells?

I fully understand the lure to document life on every digital platform available. I enjoy witty tweets, hearing about people’s lives on Facebook, and the aesthetic of Instagram as much as the next denim wearing, pour over drinking Millennial. 

But what if by posting everything online, attempting to be as #transparent as possible, we deny ourselves the goodness of processing things offline, with God and with people who love us? I think of parallel scenarios working through things. In one, I quickly posted about it and was given encouragement by friends and family. But in the second? In the second, I stayed offline, chewing on what God was teaching me and allowing my heart to change while sharing it only with people who ACTUALLY know me. 

The second was so much sweeter. 

I often think of the life of Jesus. He didn’t have the same online-offline divide, but he certainly had a crowd ready to hear his every thought. Yet, as Luke 5:16 tells us, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” 

Even Jesus withdrew often to process things with God and to think. In our fear of being unknown (or the worse option: lonely), we act as if we don’t need the same things that the perfectly human one needed. 

If choosing obscurity is a foreign thing to you, start small. It’s something I’m still working on, but every time I choose to take time to process things with God, myself, and those who actually know me for who I am (not just what my selfies look like) before posting, that process is so much sweeter. 

And, honestly – it’s FUN to enjoy things without sharing them with the world. The cup of coffee or sunset seem to be sweeter when viewed through my eyes only, and not ever being viewed through a camera lens.

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