The joy in being a nobody

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us -don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!


I love this little poem written by Emily Dickinson more than 150 years ago.  It conveys in such an unassuming way a deep spiritual truth.   The Apostle Paul writes “There is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11)  He is quoting here an Old Testament passage out of Deuteronomy 10:17 that says “God does not show partiality or take a bribe.”  This is a very freeing truth.  The basis of our relationship with God is not measured by accomplishment – by making ourselves or proving ourselves to be somebody. 

At the foot of the cross there is only room for nobodys.  The ground of God’s grace is an equalizer.  Grace is a gift and not given on the basis of accomplishment. There is no way we can earn any favor with God.  And so there are no “somebodys” at the foot of the cross, only “nobodys.”

It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be a somebody.  Somebodys are driven by an orientation of performance that seeks to earn acceptance with God and others by what we do.  Unfortunately, that is a failed strategy since all of us are by nature sinful and invariably will fall short. (Romans 3:23)  The mystery of God’s love for us is that He accepts us just as we are and invites us into His loving embrace before we have done anything.  He chooses us and sets His affection on us when we are a nobody. 

From a worldly perspective that is not how it is supposed to work.  Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?  Aren’t we supposed to be a somebody to be chosen?   We learned that early on in the choosing of sides in childhood games, thoughout our school years right into adulthood and the workplace.  Somebodys get promoted.  Somebodys are the ones who are admired. 

But we also learned early on the dirty little secret about the somebody performance orientation.  Whatever we may do or accomplish is never enough.  It never really satisfies.  There is always more to accomplish and something else to prove.

God’s ways are higher than our ways.  He wants us to glory in being nobodys – to find our acceptance and self-worth by resting in His love for us with nothing to prove.  In fact, to the contrary, God challenges us to glory in our weaknesses, to distinguish ourselves by acknowledging the areas of our lives in which we desperately need Him.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)  That is where He promises to distinguish Himself by revealing His strength through our weakness.  God gives grace to the humble “nobodys” but resists the proud “somebodys.” (James 4:6)

So rejoice in your nobody status.  Don’t disqualify yourself from His acceptance.   It beckons the grace of God and makes you a somebody in Him.

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3 thoughts on “The joy in being a nobody”

  1. Thank you for the reminder that being a nobody in this world and a somebody with God is a great place to be and nowhere else I would rather be.


    Thankyou-I needed to hear that. If it wasn’t for us “nobodys”, the “somebodys” wouldn’t exist. It’s the “nobodys” that are the servants in this world and they do it without claims to fame or recognition. It takes a heart response to be a “nobody” and to run the race with patience that is set before us knowing that Jesus did so with the Joy that was set before him and endured the cross for us. (Heb. 121-2) Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to be and remain a “nobody” with joy. I wonder if when the Word speaks of “the Joy that was set before him” if we are that Joy.

    Hope your surgery went well and you are on the mend.

  3. Tom,

    Great blog post! It helps so much to know the details of what you’ve been walking through. We love you and are standing with you; believing for a FULL recovery and a cancer-free body for the rest of your days!

    We love you and thank God upon every remembrance of you.

    In Christ~

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