"Wildly Successful", a story from the road

"Wildly Successful" - Those are the words that came to my mind on my recent drive home from Nashville. I tightened my grip on the wheel, squinted my eyes and opened my ears, listening harder. The thought continued: "What if you were to think of yourself as being wildly successful instead of sort of a failure?" In my case failure would mean someone who tried really hard but never quite got there, wherever "there" is.
But what if??!! What if I started believing I've been wildly successful? How crazy that sounded to me, especially the "wildly" part! But I smiled. Because I knew who was speaking to me. And HIS voice is never one that shames, discourages, or stops forward motion.
You might be surprised to know that I fight thoughts of failure and insignificance. Maybe this is the curse that comes with the blessing of being an artist - success is an impossible metric. I mean statistics never lie right? And there are plenty that can discourage an independent artist. Spend a day focusing on Spotify, chasing algorithms that no one understands, and scrolling through a social media feed full of artist/friends who are all doing what you do, many of them doing it better! Realize that you can make more money designing and selling a T-shirt than writing a song, and then watch outside forces destroy the market for CDs, and streaming companies find sneaky ways to shrink songwriter earnings. It's an uphill fight and the mountain's getting higher!
But being an independent artist is a gift. I can write about what I want. I can write with whomever I want. I can put out the songs that matter to me, but that I really think will matter to YOU...because I am not the point. Self-indulgence is not attractive. I do what I do because we all long for authenticity, something real, and the more I've become emotionally honest with myself and in my songs, the more I'm hearing a new word when I get off stage, "relatable", as in, "Your songs are so relatable". So, when I write my true stories, you hear your true stories. How cool is that??
As I thought about those 2 surprising words God whispered, I started looking for the truth of it: I've been wildly successsful at building writing relationships, at finding my true voice, at developing my writing voice, at showing up on stage and giving everything I have every time, at looking into the eyes of people at shows and feeling the connection we've made, at being faithful to keep on going no matter the impossible metrics that define success.
No matter what YOU do, the world will shout that you're small and insignificant. It will batter and gut-punch. Today I'm holding my head up and leaning into "wildly successful" and letting God be the decider and definer of that!