Feeling Rank

In case you missed the one thing that I have talked or written about pretty much non-stop for the past couple of weeks, Not Alone is available for purchase. On Amazon. Where people buy books by John Irving and Stephen King.

One of the things that happens when you have a book on Amazon is that your book has a rank. If you’re someone like Irving or King, then that’s a good thing. Your numbers are probably like 1 or 2. You write something, millions of people buy it, you go live it up with your big piles of book money and you don’t give your Amazon ranking a second thought. Or at least, I imagine that’s how it works.

When your name is Alise Wright, it’s a little different.

It’s very easy for me to get obsessive about stuff like this. The first day that Not Alone was available on Amazon, I was intrigued, watching the sales rank float around. For me having a small blog, being with a small publishing company and having strictly word of mouth advertising, I felt like the rank was a perfectly respectable number.

And then it started falling. By numbers that seemed ridiculously large.

'Gold star for the study carrels!' photo (c) 2009, Quinn Dombrowski - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/So I did what I normally do, which was to get all weird and then tweet about it. My very wise friend Kathy suggested that I not log into Amazon for a while. Or ever. Because the sales ranks fluctuate dramatically and someone is going to hate the book and give it a 1 star rating and none of it matters that much anyway. She is smart, so I shut down Amazon. For like seven whole hours.

Because what I’m really good at is ignoring advice that is absolutely solid and will result in me being slightly less neurotic than I actually am. What I’m really good at is tying my worth to a number that is completely subjective. What I’m really good at is taking something that is really simple and making it much more complicated.

I do this with my faith all the time. I brush off advice from those who have more wisdom than me because to do what they suggest requires far more self-control than I want to exercise. I put my value in how many ministries I’m serving in or how much time I spend reading the Bible or how many times I talk about God on my blog. I take something simple like “love your neighbor” and make it all complicated by attaching conditions and addenda to it that make it more palatable to me.

And in all of this, I start ranking faith. Not just my own, but everybody else’s. And it fluctuates wildly when I do this. Catch me when I’ve had enough rest and I’ve played with my kids and listened to some good Christian music and written something spiritually insightful and bam! I’m hanging with the big boys. Or maybe I was up late dealing with an angry child and I ate a whole container of Ben & Jerry’s and watched 5 episodes of South Park in a row. And I feel like I’m sitting down at the bottom of the pile.

Jesus told us how to be great. Be like a child.

When I get all hung up on my Amazon ranking, it takes two seconds of hanging out with my kids to be cured of that. They. Don’t. Care. I mean, they care in the general sense that it’s cool that I have a book, but Amazon ranks don’t matter. What matters is just that I was engaged with them. And when I do, it’s a benefit to all of us.

God doesn’t have a ranking system that updates hourly and makes adjustments depending on my actions. He just wants me to engage. He wants me to love him and love people around me. And when I do, my God ranking doesn’t improve, I improve.

I don’t even need to be an Irving or King to do that.

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Where do you compare yourself to others? What can you do today to engage with God and/or with those around you?


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Today I’m linking up with Joy In This Journey as a part of the Life: Unmasked series. Stop by Joy’s blog to read more or to share your own story.

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  • Deidra

    Wow – I can so identify with every part of this, except for the having a book on Amazon part because I'm too lame and scared to have gotten that far yet. Thanks for sharing – it's really made me think about how much I obsess and how much faith I say I have but really don't.