Monday, February 27, 2012

On, in, and Around Mondays: The Power of Being Second

Sewer Cap

I walk alone today.

To the west is the river, obstructed. Such a beautiful vista this should be, but rooftops and wires, trees with plastic bags somehow caught in their tippy tops spoil the view. Such a vista would be my first choice for photographs, but it is not available to me from where I make my way.

A sewer cap catches my eye, and I bend down to capture it with my lens. I keep walking. Thinking and walking.

Soon I am taking pictures of secondary things. Things under my feet, not at eye level. Shadows of trees instead of trees. Sidewalks instead of the reeds that lean over them.

Serpentine Tree Shadow

It strikes me, suddenly, the power of being second. Everybody reaches for first. But it is Second, it is the niche-place, that holds possibility.

road shadow

I am thinking now of Ann Voskamp, before she was Ann Voskamp. She didn't try to be Beth Moore, she was simply happy with being Ann. Some people didn't think much of this, because they forgot the power of being second (I remember telling an acquisitions editor to take a look at Ann, and the answer I got back was, "A shy farmer from Canada? That's not going to sell, Laura.")

And this is why, if today, anybody is trying to be Ann Voskamp, they should remember to forget that. Ann became *Ann* because she was fine with being second, and because she was Ann.

Reeds Shadow

I am delighted with this idea, as I keep snapping pictures of secondary things. I know I will come home and write about it. I know I will come home and embrace being second. Not out of humility, mind you, but out of a strong sense that good business means we aren't always trying to vie with what's established. We need to find our niche, and live into it.


On, In and Around Mondays (which partly means you can post any day and still add a link) is an invitation to write from where you are. Tell us what is on, in, around (over, under, near, by...) you. Feel free to write any which way... compose a tight poem or just ramble for a few paragraphs. But we should feel a sense of place. Would you like to try? Write something 'in place' and add your link below.

If you could kindly link back here when you post, it will create a central meeting place. :)

On In Around button

This post is also shared with Laura Boggess, for...

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Blogger Maureen said...

Lovely post. It's wonderful how you tie it to good business. That's an inspirational thought that puts you way ahead of so many who see only numbers and dollar signs and forget what makes us our best selves.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Lisa notes... said...

I am second. I suppose you're familiar with the website of the same name? Beautiful stories of putting Christ first.

I remember reading Ann before she was "discovered." So thankful for her example then, and her example now. She is herself. Second.

A great post. Thank you for being YOU. You are one-of-a-kind, too.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Megan Willome said...

Only you could find beauty in a sewer cover. But you did it!

This post is full of lovely thoughts. I think of you today, Day #1, is it not? Being second, fully in your niche.

I can't wait.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Joe Pote said...

Very nice perspective, Lisa!

Isn't it funny how God's economy works so well while be so counterintuitive to us?

"The first shall be last and the last shall be first..."

Thanks for sharing!

10:18 AM  
Blogger Shanda said...

While striving to be the best we can be, we also have to find contentment where God has placed us. The reality is there there are so very few firsts. If we take a moment to seek out the beauty of the second, even taking time to snap the photos, we will be so much happier. I loved this.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Jody Collins said...

Lara, 6 weeks when I entered this world of blogging as a believer, I'd never heard of Ann Voskamp. Then I was discouraged--how could anyone ever compare to Ann Voskamp?
Such a singular voice. But now I'm finding my own voice and water source....
your photos speak a thousand words.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

In many areas of my life, I'm still searching for my niche. But once I find it, I will remember your words: "Live into it". Not skirt around it, or hope to change it, but LIVE into it.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Sandra Heska King said...

Living into my niche.

Turning these words around now. And wondering if I've found my niche.

I'm half afraid to read Ann any more since reading Rumors. ;)

10:41 AM  
Blogger Karenee Eck said...

Laura, I learn so much from you. Thank you for the lovely thoughts and images.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Wise words. Your voice, like Ann's, is so compelling. I don't think I will ever think of it as "second". You will always be a first for me :).

I find that I do have to be careful when reading writers with such distinctive voices. I am such the clay, it seems. But...part of growing is trying these things on, learning who I am, what my own voice sounds like.

Do you know how you have mentored me along in this process? So very.

11:27 AM  
Blogger nance marie said...

the metal design in the first photograph is really attractive to me.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much for the thought-provoking post. He loves each of His children infinitely, so we are all first in His eyes.
Love in Him,

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Simply Darlene said...

Second the place to be - especially if we're following God.


1:31 PM  
Anonymous Kathleen Basi said...

And most of all, simply being satisfied with who we are, and not trying to be "the next (fill in the blank)."

1:44 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

This is so good for me Laura. I think I have spent my life trying very hard to be like someone else - someone I deeply admired but who wasn't me (the quiet one - always in the background). I am learning, at this late stage in my life, to be content to just be the me He created me to be.
I often think the very same thing about Ann. She has always been quietly obedient and true to who she is.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Monica Sharman said...

Ah! I just took some pictures of shadows on snow and was planning to write a poem about it. :)

I appreciate your own example of doing well at being second and helping others do their "second" niche well, too.

2:14 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

May I offer a different perspective, meant with all respect? I don't believe in first or second. I believe everyone is just one, and there are no numbers after that. Everything, in its own tiny and specific niche, is needed to create this beautiful and co-operative web of life. The tree casts shadows ... but the shadows are themselves.

If we try to be someone else, we deprive the world of something it absolutely needs - our own self.

Actually, that is what you were saying in your post, so our opinions aren't actually divergent :-) I just think everyone is "first".

2:19 PM  
Blogger Theresa Miller said...

Yes, we have to find our own niche and be who we are and celebrate that when we are small. Ann is a great example of this. I love your insights today. Thank you!

3:27 PM  
Anonymous kingfisher said...

Thank you, Laura.

Your photos are beautiful. I'm glad you thought to look for the "seconds". They are well worth looking at. And choosing aloneness, choosing to see the under parts that don't get as much attention, is a beautiful way to worship.

I am pondering Sarah's words, that there are no seconds, only firsts. All the facets of nature are part of the created world. All the facets of the manmade world are part of that world. All of the traits we have, the things we see, the experiences we have, are part of our lives. We may perceive as if some events, some activities, some "doings or thinkings or beings" are more spiritual, more pleasing to God, or more useful to society. But in the long run, it's our entire lives that God is transforming to make us more like him. To transform us into the persons he has meant all along for us to be.

Keep on "seeing", Laura. Looking for the unexpected, looking for ways of experiencing and noticing! And then calling our attention to things, so that we too may learn to "see well".

Blessings today. I really like your photos and thoughts.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Damoff said...

"And this is why, if today, anybody is trying to be Ann Voskamp, they should remember to forget that. Ann became *Ann* because she was fine with being second, and because she was Ann."

Yes. I've said almost the exact same thing I don't know how many times to how many people. The ones who make a difference in the world aren't the ones who set out to be known for making a difference. They follow hard after the One whose workmanship they are, making much of Him, and the reflected light (the shadows He leaves on their lives?) creates unspeakable beauty others can't resist.

Such freedom in being second! And how cozy to slip, frictionless, into that niche.

Thanks, L.L. Love to you.

3:52 PM  
Blogger David Rupert said...

I am reading the book, "I am Second" right now. Good read.

As far as the Voskamp factor. She hit a nerve -- a wonderful place. I walked in Barnes and Noble and there was her book, front and center. Loved to see it.

But for a million other writers, it won't happen. And copying her won't do anything either.

Just write. Forget everything else.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous kendal said...

i've spent too much time trying to be first....

8:35 PM  
Blogger Alicia said...

Oh, thank you. I remember when I first began my speaking ministry over a decade ago, I would often have women in the audience comment, "Do you know Beth Moore? You remind me so much of her!"

At first, it spurred me on. That's exactly who I wanted to be. Until one night God whispered, "I've already got a Beth. It's an Alicia I need."

Oh, the grace in being called to be myself. And the freedom! I love being second :)

9:47 PM  
Blogger diana said...

Oh my, how I needed to read this right now. Thank you for doing your usual exquisite job of capturing a particular zeitgeist and then just nailing it to the ground. I appreciate the reminder, the call really, to write in my own voice, to find and fill whatever niche is carved out for me at this stage of my life.

And those pictures? Beautiful and structural and so right as illustration for these words. You've outdone yourself here- and that is saying something.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Dolly@ Soul Stops said...

wise words...thank you :)

1:31 AM  
Blogger Shaunie @ Up the Sunbeam said...

This may be one of my very most favorite posts here Laura. I love everything about it, your beautiful pictures, your words that are pictures too, and the wisdom that drips from it all. Praying that I am each day finding my niche and living into it. And the last picture, a very solid, very sturdy, cast in iron rumor of water . . . LOVE!

2:15 AM  
Anonymous Bradley J said...

"Not out of humility, mind you..." How I love that about you! (Me too, btw :)

Very insightful, great advice - and the photos say it all, in their compelling images that draw us in.

6:44 AM  
Blogger ~ linda said...

Thank you for such a profound and meaningful least for me. We are each made in the image of God and our individual nature describes the beauty and awesomeness of our God. Unique in Him! And we are that!
Remembering that is so very important and a tough response when surrounded by this world.
LORD, hold me near that I may remember who I am in You!
with care ~ linda

11:59 AM  
Blogger Lori Dupes said...

I am new to your blog. Such power in your blog! I love the photos and their ability to tell the story. I think we all battle within, the desires for first AND second. Thank you for this entry, such a blessing for me today.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

A lot to think about. I remember reading Ann Voskamp's book and hearing an interview which led me to this blogging world. It's hard not to sound like those you read so much of, but I'm thankful that in time God helps me find my own voice.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Janet said...

I love the thought of being sec ond. What an inspirational idea.

After all God is first, right?

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Nona said...

Lisa, Thank you for sharing this wonderful truth. It's easy to get caught up trying to do as others do whom we admire. It's so much better being second and authentic. I do love the sewer covers, so elegant. Blessings, Nona

3:56 PM  

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