Monday, May 01, 2006

on blogging (part three of three)

this is the third and final chapter of my thoughts on blogging. No pictures this time, because it would slow me down from a long-overdue conclusion of my thoughts on blogging.

So, to summarize. Blogging brings me joy and reminds me of the other joys God has given me. It is a journal of sorts, as well as a means of keeping records of my craft projects and keeping in touch with my family.

And blogging is also, for me, unhealthy at times. It distracts me from my children and my dishes and laundry. It becomes an alternate universe where I can escape to numb my feelings of isolation. It feeds my ego, allowing me to be a "writer" and "photographer" at no cost and not much effort.

In my last chapter, I wrote, "Is there a scale on which I can weigh the good and the bad of my blogging, and should I decide whether or not to blog based on the outcome?"

I do think that the good outweighs the bad in blogging. I realize that that is a dangerous thing to say. If you're allergic to peanuts, and a slice of peanut butter pie is only 5% peanut butter, it could still kill you even though the "good" ingredients far outweigh the "bad" ones. And for the rest of the world, the fact that it's 5% peanut butter matters not at all - it's all good pie.

So am I "allergic" to blogging? Could feeding my ego and distracting from my children harm me in some tangible way? Perhaps.

Or take that same slice of peanut butter pie. If you're trying to lose weight.... there's nothing particularly evil about that slice of peanut butter pie, and one slice won't kill you... but if you keep eating that pie, you won't lose the weight. Or if you eat that slice of pie, PLUS a bag of Doritos, PLUS a cupcake, PLUS.... Weight Watchers only allows you a certain number of indulgences, and you'll need to pick whether you want the Doritos or the pie, because if you really need to lose weight, you can't have both.

So am I "overweight" in the things that blogging feeds? Sitting in front of the computer, plugged into an alternate reality, escaping the life that God gave me to enjoy? Focused so much on telling my own story that I've forgotten how, or never learned how, to ask other people about their stories? Have I traded the "real food" of real conversation and real relationships for the "convenience food" of blogging and reading others' blogs? And is it junk food? And if I don't have time for the real thing, or don't know how to forge real relationships as a stay-at-home mom living in a trailer by the side of the highway, then isn't junk food better than starving? Perhaps.

But what initiated this internal debate about "to blog or not to blog" was none of these things. It was the niggling sense that, after a joyful year of writing blogs and taking pictures, God himself was asking me to give up blogging.

Since I tend to be an unrealistic pessimist who's convinced that anything fun or rewarding is bad, and that God is some sort of ogre who always calls me to do hard things and sacrificial things, I asked him to confirm it somehow. To give me some bolstering evidence, or some internal sense that I should be done... SOMEthing.

And in my devotions I read Luke 14:25-35 which says, in part, "...suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for the terms of peace."

This verse is in the larger context of Jesus saying it is going to cost everything to follow him. I never in my life until this last week saw this verse as anything but an extension of the earlier parable about building a tower and estimating the cost.

But it suddenly dawned on me that (arguably) in this parable *God* is the opposing king, and I can futilely fight against his will or I can be smart and ask how much peace will cost me. And the amusing answer is that it costs everything I have. He is so assured of victory in the end that he can demand whatever "ridiculous" terms he likes.

Or, to put it another way, it really all belongs to him anyway. He is not conquering new territory, he is fighting to reclaim all that is rightfully his, which includes me and the possessions I have (wrongfully) called my own. Whether he fights or we make peace, he gets it all. But the difference is -- peace. And peace is what I want.

So, it still seems that he is asking me to give up blogging - that in my case, that is one of the "terms of peace." And I can come up with many reasons why he might be asking me to, but the truth is - I don't know. When a more powerful king and his army arrive at my home, and we have already negotiated the terms of peace, and he says he wants to rip out the garden and enlarge the house, do you argue? Even though it hurts? Do you talk back if he turns your bedroom into a library and moves your room out to the potting shed? The terms of peace, remember? You promised to give up everything, did you not?

In that context, blogging seems like a small thing to give up, even if I don't fully understand why. And it's good to remember that this same king promises that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. And that he loves me and that this painful process of letting go is somehow necessary, perhaps like giving up the peanut butter pie to lose a few pounds, even if I'm not allergic to peanuts.

One final question that someone is likely to ask inside their head if not directly:

do I know for sure, for sure that I'm not mistaking God's voice? That I've really heard him correctly? That I'm not just hearing some strange contorted echo of my own conscience and the thoughts other people have thrown my way?

The answer is no, I do not. But I am convinced that God is good, and that he can speak to me, and that the only way I will ever learn to properly listen to him is to keep trying to hear him and trying to do what I think he's calling me to do, using the Bible and good friends who are better listeners to help me sort through all the conflicting voices. I'm trusting that as I go I will learn better how to hear him.

And who knows? Perhaps after we rip this garden out and enlarge the house, God will say "now plant another garden over here" - and I'll begin blogging again. Or perhaps not.

Meanwhile, I will enjoy the larger house , the extra time in my life created by the loss of the blog - and I will try to listen for God's voice to see how we should fill this new room in the house. Listening more attentively to both God and my children seem to be a good place to start.