Serving Anonymously or Publicly

I have a friend who writes a religious/spiritual blog. This friend writes anonymously. We have had several discussions about anonymity and service. This friend blogs anonymously as a way to avoid ego and to remove attention they might receive and bring that attention to the writing and teachings on their blog—in other words, to bring attention to the Savior.

When I first began a dialog with this person I was considering going anonymous myself, and they encouraged it, but I couldn’t quite step into it. I did a lot of soul-searching, asking myself if this was because of my ego and found that perhaps it was, but not in the way one might think. Whereas my friend has struggled with ego on the side of the “limelight” and enjoying it too much, I have struggled with ego on the side of shame, and not wanting to be seen. In fact, being seen has been one of many significant trials in my life.

Over the past five years since my divorce I have found myself popping in and out of toxic shame. I noticed that every time I was engulfed in shameful feelings I wanted to hide, disappear, go anonymous, shrink; and I did. But whenever I came out of shame and felt good about myself I wanted to share, had goals and didn’t care about being seen so much.

The ego’s job is to keep us safe. One of the lessons we come here to learn is to quiet the ego and work from a place of spiritual guidance. My friend quiets their ego by stepping out of the spotlight and serving anonymously. But my lesson is opposite. I am very comfortable OUT of the spotlight. I don’t need or desire attention. But that’s ego too because the function of my anonymity is to stay “safe”. It is fear-based. So I get to learn how to serve publicly. Whichever your lesson, it’s a balance and a process.

In the Church we tend to socially and culturally believe that anonymous service is the best kind of service, that disappearing and shrinking humbly is commendable and desirable. And women are good at that. But I think we’re missing something very important. Who cares if people see you, as long as when they see you they see love reflected back at them?

It’s our motives that matter, not the mode or method of service. You can still serve quietly and humbly and totally publicly, as long as your motive is love. Take leaders, for example, in any faith . They’re not hiding their light. I don’t believe that’s the point at all. I believe the point is to serve others through small acts of kindness and love. That’s what brings people to Christ and makes him visible to them.

If people see the love of God when they look at you and interact with you, then you and the Savior have become one, and you don’t need to move out of the way so that only he can be seen because you are a whole, a partner with him. He doesn’t want you to get out of the way, he wants you to become like him, a beacon of love and light. When you are one with the Savior, both are seen.

The Father and the Son are two distinct individuals, but they are One. We recognize their individuality and their unity simultaneously. The goal is the same for us. We can be recognized for our individuality and unity with the Savior simultaneously. And there is nothing egotistical about that. If we are to become like God should we not practice balanced service? Should we not be comfortable with both anonymity and being seen? God presents himself both ways.

So who is right? My friend or me? We both are. I need to learn to balance anonymity with being seen and they need to balance being seen with anonymity. Which do you need more in your life?