It's been a silent month around here, and with anticipation and a re-newed perspective, I'm excited to start hitting the "publish" button again instead of "save". I'm so thankful for the time off, and I'd love to share with you a bit of what I learned while I was away!
When Blogging Becomes a Burden
I remember when I started writing on the blog last year, and it was just pure fun. I had little to no expectations of where it would go or how it would end up. Writing was led by the spirit, and I was under no illusions that I had much wisdom to offer anyone in my own strength. There was no pressure to write about certain things or to have my blog look a certain way. I was fairly sure only 10 friends and family members read it anyway - and they are the kind of wonderful friends and family that read because they love you (regardless of how silly your blog posts are).
Then things started changing. More comments rolled in, more "likes" and more follows. I started reading other blogs more seriously, and feeling like mine didn't measure up. It seemed like my writing was really inconsistent compared to those "professional" blogs. I jumped everywhere with topics and didn't have good headings or nice pictures. The pressure was on.
Somewhere along the way, blogging became not primarily about responding to God's leading and being used as a vessel for his glory (although that was still on my heart), but about a means to a "bigger and better" end. I had made some connections, and suddenly I wondered if God wanted me to monetize the blog, write an ebook, contribute original content to other blogs, or something else. As my stats increased, so did my concern with pretty pictures, consistent post lengths, easy to read categories, and carefully crafted bios.
And in June, I realized that I was blogging like it was a part-time job I had. Creating content was feeling stressful and burdensome. I was getting anxiety about how I would be received and what important people might be stumbling across my writing. All the while, I was missing out on important little events happening in sweet hearts in my four walls. I was putting too much emphasis on the blog and not enough on my laundry.
I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, but I knew I needed to listen to God's calling to pause and seek first the kingdom of heaven - no blogging and social media.
If Not Me, Then Who?
There are a multitude of Christian women out there, spreading gospel-centered content for the world to read. God is using it to drive women to the Word and to repentance. What I do (although not word for word) is replicated all over the web. There are thousands of women blogging, but only 1 woman that can be a wife to Brad and a mom to Lewis, Gabe, and Cal. I needed this reminder.
There is a short window of time I have with my children, and 18 years from now I don't want to be watching my boys leave for college and feel regret. I don't want to see these years captivated and dominated by a laptop, a cell phone, and an ipad. I don't want to have pain in my heart, as I see that while I used my moments for good things, I could have used them for teaching and training my children in the ways of the Lord.
Laptops and blogs are not evil. And many MANY women are able to blog without jeopardizing crucial moments with their children. Many women are able to work (paid and volunteer jobs) in and outside the home, and train their children in the ways of the Lord. This isn't an argument for or against women working paid jobs in or outside the home, volunteering their time, or pursuing hobbies.
This is about me, ignoring a moment to correct and nurture because I'm still finishing an open post.
This is about me, feeling pressure to spend time doing things a certain way on this blog because it might lead to something more prestigious.
This is about me, thinking that there is more holiness and glamour in ministry "outside" motherhood than inside my four walls.
The Lord struck me and re-focused me during this hiatus. I still wrote and studied daily, but I paid more attention to the crucial heart happenings in my home. I realized how distracted I had been when I felt pressure to get a "good blog post" out.
Who do I expect to teach my children about the gospel, the bible, and the crucial doctrines of our faith? Church might help, but they can't and shouldn't be expected to do it for me. And while my husband is a huge participant in this, his time somewhat limited compared to mine due to his career. The responsibility primarily falls to me in this season (by God's strength, grace, and help). If I don't teach them, throwing the full weight of my gifts and wisdom behind it, who will? This is one of the reasons my husband and I choose for me to not work outside the home...so I could have more time to teach and train to the glory of God. Anything that distracts from that mission must be prayerfully evaluated.
All this to say, the answer to the blogging question for me isn't "stop" or "don't do it". I love writing, and I truly enjoy and experience blessing as God works through this little corner of the web. But I feel tremendously free and joyful to say that from here on out (unless God directs otherwise), this blog is just for my processing and sharing things from the overflow of my own life experiences.
It's not to impress you.
It's not a "means to an end".
It's not a way to get more followers or likes.
It's not to sound holier than I really am.
It's not to make money or build a brand.
Practically, this means I'm not necessarily going to update consistently. I may write 3 posts one week and none the next. I know that's not traditional and that's not what a "professional" blogger would do, but I'm not doing this to become a professional...and claiming that feels awesome. It means that while I'm going to try to respond to comments and keep you updated on social media, I'm going to stop feeling guilty for being less skilled at the branding and PR side of this stuff. I'm not doing this so I can gain a huge following. I'm just writing as the Lord leads, doing my best to share when I post, and then whatever God does - great!
There is nothing wrong with being a professional blogger, or free-lance writer. I have friends and family members who earn money for their family doing what they love in this area. For those who are called to it and can do it without sacraficing the mission God has given them in motherhood - this is awesome! But for me, in this season, with three kids under 2 (which is more than a handful)...I just don't have it in me to do both really well.
I want them to remember...
If there is one thing I want my children to remember about their childhood - it's not how much mommy wrote on her blog or studied in her books. I want them to remember playing and laughing with me. I want them to remember that I told them "no" and faithfully discipled them. I want them to remember hearing me tell them the gospel over and over in every teachable moment. I want them to remember me as being engaged, present, and caring about their hearts. I want them to see me serving in the church and being engaged in life outside the home - but not to the point where I'm out of touch with the needs of their soul.
So here is to continuing this blog - but not to avoiding or trying to sneak my way out from under this very challenging and often times mundane calling of motherhood. This is the good work that God has given me in this season, and I want to joyfully accept all circumstances for God's glory.
(photos courtesy of Brad's Aunt - from mid July)