Saturday, September 20, 2008

is it worth it?

After giving myself a few days of distance from my 9/8 and 9/10 posts plus comments, I’m still wondering if blogging is worth it. The whole experience of “the anonymous commenter” really threw me for a loop. On the one hand, I’m glad it gave me an opportunity to wrestle with God over what to do (and boy, did I wrestle), as well as to set some boundaries on my blog. At times, I was certain that good was coming from the situation, at the very least in my own personal life. On the other hand, some people to whom I told the story said, “That’s why some of us don’t blog,” and “That’s why I don’t get blogging.” Those comments were not meant to put me down, I know, but they carry with them a little bit of blame—like this was my fault. Like I shouldn’t have put myself out there in a vulnerable position for all the world to see. Cause that’s what’s wrong with blogs in the first place; they’re indiscriminate.

Do I just crave the attention that this blog provides? Is it wrong for me to share openly about my life and heart with anyone other than those who have won my trust and who also trust me?

Ironically, I’d like to be honest here. I felt a lot of shame in the last week about various things, but particularly about what happened on my blog. I’ll spare you the details, but I do want to say that I noticed something. Isn’t it odd that my outlet for writing, my forum for creativity, truthfully one of my main reasons for going part-time, felt like such a defeat? I was initially struck by how much like a demonic scheme that seemed. Or, as a friend pointed out, maybe God wanted to teach and refine me through this. Either way, now doesn’t seem to be the time to give up. I work so much less now, not because I’m an exhausted pregnant woman, but because it was clear back in March that I needed this. I needed the chance to test out my words, and maybe even my paintbrushes or camera. From my perspective, this blog motivates me to create.

I would really love your thoughts on this. What makes a blog worthwhile? What makes you read my blog? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Should I speak less openly about what’s going on in my life? If you wouldn’t mind taking the time to comment, it would mean a lot to me. I think it would also help me to know who reads this. Even if I don’t know you, I’m interested in your thoughts (with the exclusion of anonymous comments). Can I tempt you with a give-away?

Just kidding. It’s not that kind of blog, at least not right now.

Thanks, everybody.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

dove does it again

LOVE this.

Today I got my new 25-year-old license in the mail, and all I could think was "pregnant face." A video like this reminds me of some things I need to remember.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

for keri

"We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything."
--2 Corinthians 6: 3-10

If I've ever seen this in action, I've seen it in you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

two angles

I got an anonymous comment from Monday’s post that I thought I would wrestle with a bit. It’s definitely the first openly critical comment I’ve ever gotten; it hurts real bad, but it’s also good for me, I think.

I thought about deleting the comment and the post, but that seemed like image maintenance to me. I’ll be honest, the hurt I feel is entirely a product of my desire to look good. I read back through my post with different lenses, and I can see that it comes across as unfeeling—the girl at the bus stop is presented as a neutral prop in my setting, instead of as a soul, created by God and in need of real love. In fact, I need to ask her forgiveness for walking by, and ironically, I’ll be seeing her again in a few days, so I’ll be praying for courage. That said, I’m making a few changes to the post, but in general, I’m leaving it the same. Part of learning how to write is learning from mistakes and receiving criticism, and I can’t just erase every mis-step as if it never happened. The only reason to do so would be to make myself look good.

My intention in writing that post was to make fun of myself, to look back on the myriad selfish reasons why I often don’t say hi to people I know when I see them from a distance (this is certainly not the first time that’s happened). I hope it made me look a bit ridiculous, but if it didn’t, then I failed to paint the picture I intended. I feel genuinely convicted by God, even more now after receiving this comment, that I can’t ignore his people; not because I’m tired or in a hurry, and not even because I’m shy or afraid. I appreciate being called out on that.


I would also like to come at this situation from another angle, so: permission to speak boldly. From here on out, I’ll be monitoring my comments more closely, and as a general rule, I won’t be posting anonymous comments. I’ve gotten a few in the past, and since I’m an avid blog reader, I’ve noticed that they provide license for saying pretty much whatever one wants without consequences. That is, of course, the nature of the internet these days, but I’ve seen extremely hurtful things happen to people I love at the hands of blogs. And I guess this blog has a longer reach than I realized. If you know me, love me and care about me, I will take constructive criticism from you any day, and the odds are good you already have my personal email address. Write away. In fact, I’m probably going to need some feedback for this post.

Since the comment references New Life, I’ve decided to speak up, although it’s hard to know what is meant by “New Life,” since it is a giant mass of individuals. Many of these individuals are my family, and while I personally may do a somewhat crappy job at loving people and have, on many occasions, run away from messiness, it is entirely untrue that we, as a church, avoid pain, brokenness and unhappiness. Let it be known that I AM A MESS, my husband is a mess and all my best friends are complete messes. We are hurting and very often unhappy.

But everyday I watch my husband pour out his life for other people in pain, and I watch my friends love and pursue people who are depressed, sick, addicted, afraid, or alone. Does anybody ever love perfectly? Definitely not. But these people have given up their lives to try to love like Jesus. They are washed in the blood of Christ, they are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, and there is NO condemnation for them. None.

I claim this truth of the Gospel on behalf of my family, not just at New Life, but all around the world.


To my anonymous commenter: I'm bold in my words, because I want to respond to what you said. I am not condemning or judging you as a person. You have been hurt, I'm sure, and I completely understand your frustration. If I've met you before, is there any chance you'd want to hang out with me? I've been wrestling my whole life with that question of "how much of this is even real?" My own fakeness is despicable to me. I really want you to know what it has been like for me to learn how to truly love God, even in the midst of that temptation to hide. I'd like to be a listening ear for you too, if you're looking for one. Please feel free to facebook me...

Monday, September 08, 2008

take it or leave it

Last week it was HOT in Ann Arbor. The students seemed optimistic, yet sweaty, on the first day of classes, and I was walking among them on my way back to New Life from the League. All the fluid in my body was descending quickly to my feet, the glare off the concrete was making my eyes squinty, and as I looked toward the future, the skin of my middle-aged years was looking more and more sun-damaged with every passing minute out there. I was, perhaps, waddling.

To my right (oh, if I’d only looked left!), a friend of mine sat in the shade of the bus stop, looking sad. My hipster wide-rimmed shades lended themselves nicely to peering at her out of the corner of my eye without turning my head. She didn’t notice me. Excellent. I kept walking.

Now, I happen to know that she probably was sad for a particular reason. It would have been really quite good of me to stop and talk to her. I was thinking these thoughts for the next block, along with: “NO. I refuse to turn around and go back. It is hot; I am tired. The bus will come soon anyway.”

I believe this was one of those take-it-or-leave-it moments that God gives me.

“Just go back.”

“Who me? Nah. Wait, who is this? Ha! I’m so silly. Not a big deal. Seriously.”

My question on the subject is: how much does God care whether or not I go back? Am I being sinful by moving forward toward the goal of elevating my legs? Or am I missing out on just one of the boundless ordinary opportunities to love others that God gives me? Listen, I certainly don't miss out on every opportunity. In fact, I’ve taken him up on quite a few of them. The truth is, I’m doing quite well at loving people, if I do say so myself.

But let me ask myself a question. How sweet could life be if I made it a goal to take God up on these promptings more frequently? In reality, they aren’t that numerous, and they aren’t that hard.

Often my reason for saying NO to God is my “spiritual green-ness.” Oh, I am very green indeed. From my perspective, my energy resources are very limited, draining quickly and Must! Be! Conserved! I join the ranks of many other devotedly green people by feeling genuinely panicked. At some point, the earth will be completely wiped out of its resources, and at some point, I will use my final drop of relational energy, have a nervous breakdown and die.

I can only laugh at myself. That, and remember the truth—that as I labor, “I am struggling with all [the Spirit’s] energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:29). I have to count on God to give me his strength to follow through on his ideas. He is trustworthy, and what he asks of me will not hurt me, at least not for long. His quiet calls beckon me to a more full life. I’ll be keeping my ear out.