I’ve been scrolling through the “topics” tab on Twitter more often lately, searching for interesting anime-related tweets on which I can comment. Whenever I look through the general “anime” topic, however, I become discouraged and frustrated. From my eyes, most of the tweets making the topic page are falsified in some way, full of grammatical mistakes, or unoriginal. Meanwhile, I sit here beaming if I get just five likes and one retweet for my thoughts.
With my heavy focus on likes and other numbers, I feel a strong kinship with Eiko in Ya Boy Kongming, the aspiring singer who is taken under the wing of reincarnated military strategist Kongming, and who in the first episode feels deflated by her lack of followers on “Pinstagram.” So when she sees that metric jump up by about a thousand after an inspired recent performance, Eiko is through the roof.
She stares incessantly at her follower count with a dumb grin on her face—one I know too well.
Kongming, however, is quick to chastise Eiko. Why focus on numbers, he infers, when there are bigger fish to fry?
Despite Kongming’s interjection, the truth is that the numbers do matter, at least somewhat. They don’t mean everything, certainly, but they indicate the connection that Eiko has made with her audience. Eiko herself understands what the numbers mean and what they don’t; she just got lost for a minute in the glory of seeing her follower count multiply six times over.
In other words, Kongming isn’t trying to teach Eiko anything she doesn’t already know. Instead, his message to her is due to Eiko’s Charlie Brown face, her falling in love with something “trivial.” Kongming is trying to remind her that there’s much work still be done and that she shouldn’t become overconfident: “You mustn’t forget there are people eagerly awaiting your songs.”
I need those reminders, too, as well as those that tell me my value isn’t in the “numbers” when they take a disappointing turn. Sometimes, this refers directly to metrics for our social media accounts, but it could also mean measures involving work projects, results from a craft done with your children, or the grade received on an exam. One’s worth is infinitely more than what can be found in excellent results for these activities, while disappointing ones don’t accurately measure one’s worth either.
But if you’re like me, then you know that it’s so tempting to focus on these evaluations and let them define you, both to the world and to yourself. It’s human nature.
I realize that like Eiko, I need a Kongming to remind me of who I really am.
It’s not always been like this, but right now, I have a multitude of people—family, co-workers, ministry partners—who can point my gaze upward when I’m feeling down, and push me to my knees in prayer when I’m feeling too high. I don’t turn to them as often as I should, but even if the times I open myself up are relatively few, they are meaningful and impactful.
Most of all, I find value and worth in God, in turning to him, and I remember this when my relationship with him is healthy, when I’m studying scripture, worshiping frequently, praying fervently, surrounded by believers, and participating in ministry. In those times, I’m reminded over and over that no number is too big to express how loved I am by God, and no number can hold a shine to his glory either, humbling me in my skewed perceptions of success.
I mustn’t forget, there are people eagerly awaiting my songs. Or more accurately, there are people eager to hear the song of redemption—his song. And my role is to sing it in my own unique voice, with my own God-given gifts.
I can’t stay lost in the numbers. There are far greater things to see. Far greater things to do.