An author I respect once said "Write in a way that scares you a little." That is how I write. I can't help it, it is just what comes out. But it is also the reason I don't post or publish as much as I would like to. Because it scares me a little. More than a little, really. I have no desire to write what someone else wants to hear. I have no desire to try and pretend I have it all together and know all (or any) of the answers. I do have a compelling desire to be real, authentic, and at times, painfully honest in my writing. The problem with that is that once I click "publish" it is out there. For anyone and everyone to see. And that is when the fear sets in. Some toxic combination of my old fear of rejection, need for approval, and desire to just be "liked" that halts the flow of words and leaves me unsure. Because maybe I'm not as cheerful, or as funny, or as smart, or as "glass-half-full" as I feel I should be? I know this is a result of unhealthy comparison... A trap that gets me more often than I like to admit.
I compare my writing style with other bloggers. I compare my outlook on parenting with other moms. I compare my attitudes with other sisters in Christ. I compare my home with the one across the street. I compare my body type with other women at the pool. And somehow, someway, I always come up lacking... And I already know that comparison is a trap... And it is an area of my life I have actually experienced some victory in over the years... So how does it slip back in so silently and trip me up?
To choose to be real and authentic in my life, my writing, and my relationships, I have learned, is to leave myself open to criticism. It is far safer to play along with everyone else and pretend... So it is fear that keeps me playing the game. And fear that drives me to compare. And the enemy of my soul pounces on that fear every time.
In my writing, it is easy to try so hard to be encouraging that I stop being honest about how hard life can be sometimes. I want to be uplifting and positive, but ya know, some days just don't leave me in that mindset. It is often the writing, the spilling my guts for the world to see, that transforms. The words have power. But only when they are real words. Not something I concocted to garner praise or admiration. The passage that comes to mind as I think about this is in Matthew 6... Where Jesus warned us not to do or say things just to gain man's applause, pretending to be good or compassionate as long as someone is watching (or reading). Verse 6 says it this way: "Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage." (And here's the best part) "The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace."
Of course I realize that He probably was not referring to blogging. I get that. It is a passage about honest prayer. But His Word is alive... and this is what He showed me this morning as I prayed through the restlessness of knowing that this silly little blog is His place for me right now, and not knowing how to approach it in a way that somehow reflects not only the real me, but Him in me. "Just be there... as simply and honestly as you can manage." That is where He changes my focus. That is where I find grace.
So, you brave readers, I ask that you read and give grace... To a girl who just struggles to find the answers like everyone else, and who sometimes will get it wrong. I am no theologian. I am no teacher. I am no expert on anything other than failure. I make no claim to have a clue about anything other than what God does in my own life. And I am so thankful He even reaches down to work on this broken vessel that should have been tossed out with the trash a long time ago. He is good at that, you know. Taking something that others would have discarded and making something beautiful. Reason enough to stop playing the comparison game and just let Him continue working on me, right?
(And now I sit, wondering if it is bad form to end a blog with a question. Sigh. Progress, not perfection.)