A year ago I hit submit on my very first blog post. My stomach churned and I felt a little unsteady, but then I assured myself only a few people would see it. And it was fine. My intended audience was 12 humans. I reasoned, this project was worth my time if 12 people read it each week. When I whined to a friend about how hard it was, how the technology is hard, how I hate that there is no response… she said, “Shut up and write. All the rest is noise.” So, I’ve tried to shut up and write.
I am shocked at the joy I’ve found in sharing my words. The process of writing causes me to slow down, and pay attention to what is happening around me. An experience, a moment, a thought whispers and when I sit down to write it seems to unfold before me. Sometimes, it’s stunningly simple. Other times, I must work at the words. Often I walk away feeling fuller from pouring out the words and sharing them.
As a chronic measurer, it has been difficult to not measure success by the number of likes or followers. I am committed to measuring my faithfulness to the task, not the result. So, I set goals for my writing: the 31-day challenge, three posts per week, or fewer posts but more words. I am measuring my writing not by feedback but by my own measure. I am practicing, learning, growing, and enjoying the process.
Not that there hasn’t been lovely feedback. I’ve been amazed at how far and wide my words have flown. I’ve been humbled by sweet comments from folks I don’t know, half way around the world, and lots of encouragement from those I know quite well. Just this week, I received a card in the mail from someone whose heart was touched by something she read. The miracle for me in this has been that the joy comes with or without the feedback. This allows me to be free, to simply follow my interest. I just write and post for the joy of it.
Figuring out what to write about has been a journey. I planned to use this as a teaching tool and to try to translate the kind of things I’ve done in the past into this new medium. I struggled, at first, to try and fit what I have so often done in a classroom onto a flat page. I finally gave myself permission to write about the things that interest me, to let this blog simply unfold. I learned in this process there are a few things I really enjoy writing about:
Inner life — We often compare our weaknesses to other people’s strengths. I think when we are vulnerable about our struggles we empower ourselves and others. There is little that motivates me more than an honest whisper of, “Me too.” In the virtual world, we spin imaginary personas out to the world, I want to create a space where folks can see behind the veil and recognize their own struggle as I acknowledge mine. Some of my favorites:
Family life — I adore my family, and honestly, they are a never-ending source of material. For all of our years together, these hearts have had the most influence on my life. I often say I didn’t just raise them, they raised me as well. They have been my best, most patient teachers, and they still let me tell their stories. Even though it’s messy and loud, it is worth the effort.
Church life — Living in community has brought such healing into my life. My soul is healthier, more honest, and more resilient because of the people who have shared our table, our pew, and an hour on Sunday mornings. Among all of the spiritual disciplines, I think this is most vital. I learn who I am, what I believe, and what I care about in community.
So, I’m going to keep writing. I hope folks will keep reading, but even if they don’t, I like the writing and the sharing. This work is good for me, it connects me to my life. I don’t have big plans for where this will take me. A writer I admire wrote about her relationship to writing. She made a commitment to her writing. A vow of sorts. She promised to not make it pay the bills or move mountains. She promised to nurture her craft and make time for it to grow but not pressure it to take care of her. I like this strategy. To protect and create a space for this special joy in my life. When this joy overflows into the world, it seems like cascading life.