“Don’t Quote Me On That”

The internet, much like life, is full of wonderful (and often shocking/bizarre/disgusting/weird/horrifying) things. You have online support groups to help men get over pornography, forums that do nothing but share pornography, motivational videos and videos of bullies, amazing fiction from writers who have never been published and horrifying fan-fiction from people who probably need therapy. Life reflects the internet and the internet reflects life. We go online for advice on how to live in the real world, and when we are in the real world, we talk about the internet. Something that I’ve noticed as of late online is the love of quotes. Quotes online are nothing new, but it seems the trend now is to put them with a picture to evoke a kind of emotion or give off a sensitive, artistic, hipster vibe.

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They also usually have a quote that has an inverse relationship structure that sounds like something said by the Sphinx from Mystery Men.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on this trend. It’s often a cool method to present something in a artistic and easy-to-share way. And it’s a great way to show off design skills. But, quotes are not enough. I recently finished a good book that was filled with numerous quotes that were very inspirational. I found myself writing them down, posting them on Twitter, and generally weaving myself of flag to show the world I was “inspirational yet introspective”. I devoured the wisdom of men like Charles Sumner, who said “Have an ambition to be remembered, not as a great lawyer, doctor, merchant, scientist, manufacturer, or scholar, but as a great man, every inch a king”; or William George Jordan, who said, “Alexander conquered the whole world except – Alexander. Emperor of the earth, yet he was the servile slave of his own passions”. These thoughts and many others are all fine and dandy, but I realized something very important: These things are worthless unless they are applied. I’ll even take this another step: Everything you learn and go through is worthless unless you allow it to shape your future.

It doesn’t matter what kind of person you present to others if you are not doing anything to improve yourself, by yourself, when no one ever sees. It’s not enough to read scripture on Sunday morning in the service if you let your life rot from within during the week. It doesn’t matter how much you complain about your health if you never get off the couch and do something about it. Your grades are never going to change until you open the book and turn off the cellphone. Quotes on your Facebook page for your friends to see are empty words unless they influence your life in private.

Success and change in public only happen when we sacrifice and toil and bleed in private. The habits and character you form behind closed doors will manifest itself in the open square. My prayer is that I won’t be afraid to put in the work, to stay with things, and to work for the glory of my God and not just to impress other people.

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