It seems a bit ironic to be blogging about this, but I've been thinking a lot about the pitfalls of blogging lately. Perhaps I am the only one who falls into these or even sees them as pitfalls, so humor me if that's the case. Do you sometimes feel that your computer and blogging has become an idol of sorts in your life? I know that's a strong word, but I think an idol is anything that takes your time, energy, or focus away from your God-given priorities, namely your walk with Him and your servanthood towards your family and those God has placed in your life. Over the past couple weeks, I've had this new consciousness of what writing and reading blogs might be taking away from these areas in my life. I've been pondering the real reasons why I blog, and to be completely honest, I'm not proud of all of them. Sometimes I feel that my computer is a magnet, sucking me into it as I pass by, the mouse beckoning me, the keyboard calling my name. Now I know this sounds a bit like an addiction and well... that's exactly what I'm calling it! Don't get me wrong, I believe God has used this blog world to bless my life in countless ways. I have met some special women, kindred spirits, who have spoken truth into my life at just the right moments, prayed for me, and encouraged me like Christ with skin on. To not acknowledge this fact would be wrong and neglecting to give God credit where it is due. "Father, I praise you so much for the way you work, even through modern technology, to speak into our lives and connect the body of Christ!" You special gals in my blog world know who you are as well! But what I'm asking us to do is dig a little deeper and ask some tough questions about why and how we blog. I'm going to be really real here and give you my lists:
1. For escape. Being a part of this blog social circle is an escape to the world of adults when I am craving adult content and conversation. This in and of itself isn't wrong, isolation is never good for us for too long, we were created for each other as the body of Christ, we are better together than we are on our own, God designed it that way. But does this "escape" sometimes take time and focus away from my children, away from serving my family, being present in my marriage, away from my precious time with my Savior in the Word and in prayer? My answer, yes, sometimes it does.
2. For friendship. There is not much fault I can find with this reason at first glance, but if I dig a little deeper, it's also for popularity. Come on, do you ever compare comment numbers with your bloggie sisters? Here's a little mental conversation I've had, "hmm, I wonder why she gets so many comments? She must while away the hours commenting on other people's blogs. Maybe if I comment more, I'll get more comments myself, or maybe what I write just isn't that interesting?" Listen to this foolishness of my heart, but boy it feels good to get it out there! And as I give a little thought to the whole notion of "bloggie awards", I can't help but think we are participating in a bit of a popularity contest. We should, by all means, encourage, compliment, and esteem one another. But when we start picking and choosing who is worthy of an award, what are we saying to those who are not "awarded"? Wouldn't it be better to regularly acknowledge the things we appreciate about our sisters in Christ in personal relationship? These are not declarations I'm making, just thoughts, take them for what they are worth. It does feel good to get an award, but when I'm honest with myself, that good feeling often comes from pride, not always, but sometimes. Which leads to my third "why"...
3. To feel wise, insightful, and that I must somehow have it all together. In other words, to boost my pride. Or conversely, to feel holy in my humility, which is really pride in disguise! Don't get me wrong here, I do so desperately hope and pray that God might use my words to encourage, challenge, and speak to others. But I am asking myself if there is any pride involved? Do I take more credit for the "wisdom" I share than is mine to take? Is it by and for God alone that I speak or am I seeking out a little boost of ego myself? These are tough questions to write and ask, but a little easier to answer than I had hoped. Is anyone else getting this?
4. For entertainment. Let's face it, peering into other people's lives can be entertaining. Seeing and hearing about how others live and think, finding commonalities, differences, having others interested in us, it can be very fun. And is fun and entertainment wrong in and of itself? Of course not, but when it becomes an idol and a distraction from God's best, it is.
5. For support and affirmation. Who doesn't need this right!? I'm still having a hard time finding a wrong motive in this "why", but the best I can come up with is, are we seeking this support and affirmation from each other before we seek it from the Lord? If the answer is yes, then BAM, we've found our pitfall.
6. To share photos, events, and updates with family and friends. Pretty neutral, noble cause right? There really isn't much fault I can find with this reason for blogging either. It is my pleasure to open our lives through photos and updates to those dear ones who live far away. The only thing I can think of that probably needs regular "checking" in this area is, I need to ask myself, am I seeking compliments and counting comments or sharing solely to share?
7. To journal. I am a writer by nature. I do my best thinking "out loud". The way I see it, if I can grow "on paper", where others can glean from my learning, what better way to build up the body and be a light to the world at the same time. And if I can receive the same encouragement and insight from those beyond my own immediate social circle, I am allthemore blessed. As great as this sounds, it can also trip me up if I'm not careful. Back to one of the previous "whys", I need to be careful that I am not seeking an audience for the sake of an ego boost, or to feel more wise or insightful than I ought, or "holier than thou" in my humility.
I'm sure there are more "whys" than I can think of now, or that I'm genuinely not aware of, but this seems like a pretty accurate and thorough list for me. And I'm sure I've got us all feeling pretty schmuck-like (word?) at this point, but before I allow us to wallow in our wrongs, I'm going to try to dig out the how, and how not to blog and see if we can't find a light at the end of this tunnel. Please add your insights to this list as I'm sure there are some things I have missed!
1. During the day when the kids are awake. Although this isn't my heaviest time on the computer for blogging and email, I'd be lying if I said it doesn't happen pretty regularly that I am sitting here, with my little Chloe at my knees begging for my attention to be drawn to her or Emma asking to sit on my lap or play or read or do anything other than stare at mommy's face staring at a screen. In these moments, the proverbial, "just a minute" flies out of my mouth more times than I can count. Now granted, there are daily chores and tasks that must be done, that children must be patient while you do and that, I believe, they should learn to help you with at an early age. But is blogging and emailing one of those things? I believe my children and their raising/training is my single greatest ministry, my highest calling. Our children are little arrows of God's light and grace that Travis and I get to shoot out into the world. So in everything I do, I must ask myself, how does the way I choose to spend my time impact what kind of arrows they are? They are learning by teaching, but also by example, in fact example is stronger in shaping them than teaching. Ouch! So my resolve? Limit or eliminate all together the time I spend on the computer while the kids are awake.
2. During nap time or after the kids have gone to bed. Now these are better times right! They are not intruding on my parenting, whew safe!...Well, not exactly. The "free time" stolen by the computer during nap time can still be time stolen nonetheless. So I've been asking myself, what better ways, more fruitful ways, could I be spending my time when the girls are napping? Here's what I've come up with:
-Taking a nap to refresh myself so I can be a better, more present, wife, mother, homemaker, friend, and daughter of the King. Or perhaps just being quiet on the porch, taking in God's beauty.
-Spending time in the Word and prayer, communing with my Savior and best friend!
-catching up on chores that are difficult to do when the kids are awake so that their awake time is more orderly and peaceful and full of more play/teach time with them.
-planning my menus and shopping lists to be better prepared to feed my family delicious, nutritious meals.
Then there's the time after the girls go to bed. This is the time when I must ask, am I present in my marriage? Are we taking the time to really connect and share and pray together each night? Are we carving out time for intimacy, not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally too? Does my time on the computer get in the way of that? Sometimes, well to be honest, a lot of the time, my answer is yes.
One of the uses of email and blogging I can see to be more beneficial than hindering for me is encouraging my sisters (and brothers) in Christ. But this, so long as it doesn't hamper those priorities higher on the list. It's so hard to think that something so good, so right, like building one another up through a nice email or blog comment could need a second thought. It's something I LOVE to do and I believe God wants me to continue doing it. BUT, only after I have given my first energy and time to my God, my husband and my family.
Before I get too long-winded, which I fear I may have already:(, let me sum up my conclusions in this time of purging and growth in my life.
1 Corinthians 10:23:
"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive."
Bottom line, whether it is blogging, email, the television, certain music, certain crafts or hobbies, whatever fills my time, I must always ask myself, is this beneficial, is this constructive, as far as those God-given priorities are concerned, as far as eternity is concerned? Do I need to simply cut back the amount of time I spend on a given activity, perhaps change when I do it? Are there certain things that need to be cut out all together?
As far as blogging is concerned, does this "new revelation" mean I won't be here anymore? Oh no! You better believe I'll still be here, I love blogging and the connection I share with each of you bloggettes (look at me, creating new words because of blogging!). But it does mean, I may not be here as often or at the same time of day as I used to. It does mean, that I may not be able to comment as frequently. But know that I am still here, loving and praying for each of you in your own journey. And just because this is a conviction of mine doesn't mean it will be one for you. We are all in different places, with different convictions, at different times in our lives. But I think the most concise thing I would hope we might get out of my ramblings is that we should always be aware of what fills our time and our hearts. We should always be willing to purge or prune that which is getting in the way of God's best for us. And only He, through His Word and prayer and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, can reveal that to us.
Blessings to whomever may read this, EVEN if there are zero comments!