In Which “Joy in This Journey” Really *Is* a Journey, Ill-Advised and Without a Map
If we meet some day and you ask my advice about starting a blog, I would tell you not to be a faith blogger.
I didn’t start out as one. I was a mommy-blogger, writing the every-day family stories that punctuated our frequent medical emergencies. I do this very rarely now that my kids are older because their stories are theirs. I have chosen to write my stories instead.
I write out my dilemmas, confusion, thinking, and the re-evaluating I’m doing about life, death, faith, and love. Putting this into words, sentences, and paragraphs helps me put some sort of order to it. It’s one of the best ways I have to process what I’m learning, experiencing, and thinking.
The problem is that my stories are complicated, often contradictory, nearly always uncomfortable. (Just like me.) They get me into trouble in ways my children’s stories never did.
I’ve been writing about faith for at least four years, and the trouble I’ve gotten myself into stems from making these four false assumptions.
- No-one reads what I write. I thought this was a quiet overlooked little corner of the internet where I could putter around with words and ideas mostly unnoticed. That may have been true at first, but it turns out that quite a number of you stop by and read.
- What I write (or think) doesn’t matter to you. You aren’t merely spectators watching a sunset or a performance by someone you don’t know. Many of you are personal friends or family. You’ve got a horse in the race. You’re invested in me. I need to take that seriously and remember that I’m invested in you, too.
- No-one in authority cares about what I write — it’s a free country after all. I do live in a country that protects our freedom of thought and expression. But that doesn’t change the reality that our words do carry weight and we don’t operate in a vacuum. Our words and actions affect others, so with the freedom of thought and expression comes responsibility to exercise that freedom carefully. I knew that, sort of, but I’ll be honest — many times I didn’t care.
But those in authority care. Their role in part is to protect and preserve the group they lead, whether it’s a company, school, church, town, non-profit, or whatever. If I state a position in public that criticizes, contradicts, or refutes them, that’s serious business. I ought not do so flippantly, and I ought to consider first whether there are other ways to get my point across. I get this, and I recognize that too often I’ve thought only about myself and those like me, at the expense of others who are different.
However, there’s another piece to this that I still do not understand. I am still trying to grasp how and why leaders are uneasy with diversity of opinion. I cannot understand this or what they are afraid of. I welcome diversity of thought and believe that wisdom seeks out those who see and think differently. To me, wisdom recognizes that each of us has blind spots and weaknesses, and compensates by bringing in people who see where we are blind and are strong where we are weak. Doing so enables me to consider both the strengths AND the weaknesses of a given approach/decision/position.
But I’m in the minority on this one. I’m just one voice, and my voice very often is the dissenting one in a climate in which dissent is unwelcome. I have to be honest — I haven’t figured out how to navigate this. What I do know is that if I didn’t write about faith (which has a direct bearing on the way people live and think), this would be much less of an issue. I know that I’m tired and that living in community is important and that being the oddball makes living in community difficult. I also know that the people in my life who care also care enough to help me work this out, and I’m thankful for that.
- Wielding words well is easy. Writing comes naturally to me. It is my art, and I’ve worked to master it since grade school. I thought communicating ideas was a simple matter of putting words together correctly. I was wrong. Misunderstanding one another seems to be a constant theme with every effort to express something. Words have power to divide or unite, to motivate or discourage, to grieve or to thrill. I labor over words carefully, but it never ceases to amaze me at how often you understand a word differently than I do.
I knew none of this when I started writing about my faith journey. I know it now, though I don’t necessarily have it all figured out. For now, I would like to make a few statements about this little piece of internet real estate.
The stories, the ideas, and the questions shared here are my own, and they reflect where I am at a specific moment in time (hence “in this journey”). They only reflect me today, not yesterday or tomorrow. Also, my words do not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of anyone connected to me in any way.
We are all constantly changing, learning, growing, making mistakes, picking up pieces, and evaluating. We all do this; we just don’t all choose to talk about it.
I chose to write my story here, in public, for anyone to read and critique, believing that God gave me a knack for words and a story to tell for a reason — to tell it. I’ve made myself vulnerable, and the criticism that has followed has hurt deeply. Despite that, I would not change anything. I’ve learned and grown, both as a person and as a writer, and will continue to do so. I ask for your patience along the way.