Sunday, August 19, 2007

Those Sneaky Idols

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:


WHY:


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!


HOW/WHEN:


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.




CONCLUSION


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!

Love, Sarah

39 comments:

Andrea said...

Sarah,
This is a great post and some worthy observations and conclusions. I have been rethinking my whole "blogging" thing, too--especially now that I'm planning the upcoming school year and noting that there is really no time to be on the computer. So, I must prioritize better. Time to reasses on many levels in my life.
Thanks for the reminders and really...Great minds think alike. :)

Jennisa said...

Thank you so much for this post. You are not alone, and I am also guilty of the baby at my feet while I'm on the computer. Thanks for the encouragement Sarah! And, I love the "blogette" word! :)

Munchkin Land said...

That was a beautiful post you wrote today, about avoiding the idol pitfall. Very convicting... God has already been working on my heart regarding blogging, and my obsession with it. Its a hard pill to swallow but when your 2-year-old daughter grabs your cell phone out of your hand, obviously its become a problem, heh?! I'm definitely going to be taking steps with this, including NO more checking emails or blogs via cell phone and I'm taking my sitemeter off. If I'm truly blogging for myself, I shouldn't care about the visits, huh?

And I so hear you on the blogging "awards". In fact, I stopped posting about the awards awhile ago. It just felt too much like a popularity contest and I HATED the idea of passing them on to someone else, and either a) leaving someone out or b) hurting someone's feelings. So, while I show my appreciation to the person who has "nominated" me for an award, I don't mention them any more on my site.

Amy said...

Sarah, I have some thoughts on this and I think you are right on...but Griffin just woke up. Thank you for your thoughts and I hope to be back later! love, Amy

Alycia said...

Sarah, I just returned from a blog break and have spent much time thinking about these very thoughts that you have shared. I am praying for guidance in this area and in my priorities as well. You shared a timely post with me ~ thank you!

Blessings,
Alycia

ColoradoDreaming said...

I don't know if you will check this since you have a new post but I wanted to tell you everything you said made perfect sense. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Hi Sarah,

I've often thought of the verse in 1 Timothy that talks about the young widows who became idle and went from house to house and became idlers and busybodies (1 Tim 5:13-14). Like almost anything, I believe blogging can be a good thing, but we need to examine our motives constantly and evaluate whether the time we spend on it truly reflects the priorities we say we hold dear.

Kili @ Live Each Moment said...

Great post, visiting from Katherines blog, Raising Five

Thanks for this reminder

Grafted Branch @ Restoring the Years said...

Visiting from Katherine's place. Great post. So true, so often. It definately is a challenge to keep this very good thing in "check."

fAiThFuL cHiCk said...

Found you by way of Katherine. So funny that we both posted on idolatry this week. Or, maybe not so funny, in that God has been working on a lot of us at the same time. This is a great example of God calling us gals to examine our priorities and line them up correctly. I enjoyed your post. Blessings...

Overwhelmed! said...

Wow, your honesty is amazing! I must admit, I'm guilty of some of these points that you've made.

I think I'll go to bed now and snuggle with my husband!

Marcia said...

Wow, Sarah, this is a great post. God has also been speaking to me about spending less computer time and more hubby time.

BTW, I'm over from Katherine's blog.

Organising Queen,
Clutter Control Freak and
Marcia's take charge blog

Joy@Joy in the Journey said...

Way to go! I really appreciate this post. A few weeks back, I was dealing with this very thing, and I took a week off to think and pray through it. I have severely limited my time on my blog, and visiting others. It feels good to have it in the right perspective...for now anyway! :)
Blessings,
Joy

Christina said...

I just found you through Joy.
What a great prespective. Thanks for sharing!

carrie said...

Found you through Joy.

Thank you for sharing this--I think about this often!

stacey said...

thank you for sharing your heart about this! you speak what is likely on many other minds-like me! i am working on putting myself on a schedule for this stuff once the kids start their fall schedule!

Theresa ♥ said...

Thank you.

Wendy said...

Great post! Definitely something we need to keep in balance, keeping first things first.

Susan said...

You are right, I have been busted already for this. I have let this steal time from my precious JR and husband. Thanks for posting.

Erna said...

I'm here by way of Raising Five. I agree with a lot of what you shared. I find that my draw to blogland and posting on my blog has slowed down a bit now that I've been blogging over a year. I am not so worried about who visits or when they visit anymore, or if they leave comments. I guess privatizing my blog has also caused me to lessen the amount of time I spend writing for my blog. There's no time pressure to do a meme, etc. Yet, I can be guilty on bad days to want to get into the corner and sit with my laptop. I think it goes in phases. I admit I spend too much time on here "catching up" when I have my quiet time after the girls go to bed and before hubby comes home. There's more that I can do. Like finish the laundry I forgot about while on the computer. :0) (All this to say, I can relate to a lot of what you shared. Blessings to you for sharing your heart and challenging all of us to make wise choices.)

Christine said...

Looks like you're getting a lot of comments on this one...hope it doesn't feed the addiction! :)

Seriously, though, I could echo just about everything in this post. The one about a child begging at your leg for attention was an ouchie!!

Thanks for sharing from your heart and conscience.

Jenny said...

I needed this and believe when we are in need of something or of learning something God puts it in front of us. I enjoyed what you have said. It has given me a chance to really start thinking. Now I will also do some praying about what I am doing with my Blog's.

Nancy said...

You have raised wise concern about blogging as an idol. I was spending way too much time on my computer, in the past. I don't know how we, as mothers and wives, have time to devote to this. I have 6 children and another on the way (early). My goal is to blog when I truly have time apart. I don't know how anyone has time to write lengthy posts on such wonderful topics. I have so much in my head and heart that I want to share... One day, in a season that's not as busy, I will put them to pen. Thanks for your insights!

Carrie said...

Hi, I'm new here. What a great post! I've been thinking a lot of the same things lately, wondering if this blogging scene is taking away from my day to day responsibilities. Thanks for being honest and summing up what I'm sure most of us feel, as well.
God bless :)

JMom said...

AMEN!!!
I have been thinking about lots of these same issues for a while now. Thank you for articulating it so well.

Liz said...

I just had one thought about this... When you are talking about the neutrality of blogging to update family and friends on goings-on, I think there is a big risk here. Do you (or anyone else) blog and then forget to make PERSONAL contact with those "friends and relations" because "they already know it all because I blogged about it"? We should never let our blogs get in the way of personal communication. Even a personal email is much better than a blog, but a handwritten letter so much more so!

Just food for thought.

Liz

Sarah said...

Yes, yes, yes Liz! Great insight to add. I fall prey to that all too often. I am convicted to write some personal emails to several people very soon, perhaps some old fashioned letters are in order too!
Sarah

ValleyGirl said...

You're so right. This is exactly the thing that's been bugging me too lately. Mind if I go the lazy route and instead of re-writing essentially what you said, I just link you and send everyone on over? What a powerfully thought- and self-examination provoking post. Thank you.

ValleyGirl said...

P.S. And I really like what Liz said. That's become a huge issue for me. My own mother said she's noticed I don't email nearly as much as I used to. Ouch.

Chrystal said...

Love this post...gave me a lot to think about. I linked back to you on my blog. I'll be reading it again to chew on it a bit more.

HeartofWisdom said...

link back
http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/spritual-growth/encouragement/blogging-addictions-blogging-balance/

Tori said...

Sarah,
I have never commented on someone's site who I didn't know personally. I'm actually pretty new to blogging, and learning. I wanted to just say thank you for being "REAL". It seems in this world of me, myself, and I....just too busy, I got busy and forgot...I've got it all together. It is often difficult to find those "REAL" girlfriends. I appreciate how transparent you are. These are issues I struggle with as well. Thanks for the encouragement.

Ketutar said...

I have to say that after reading this all I can think of is that if this is what you really think, you shouldn't be on-line at all.
You sound to be stealing ALL the time to write from something that you actually think is more precious, valuable, worthy and sacred...

What could you possibly get here that you can't get in more productive, healthy, constructive and pleasing ways?

Keep in contact with your internet friends through snail-mail, telephone, church meetings, visiting a nice coffee house somewhere near, do the shopping together, come together and keep the house and children while you talk - keep a journal and discuss all the things you want to discuss in your blog with your sisters (and brothers) at bible study group, etc.

Sheila said...

Wow, this post hit me hard. I've had this nagging feeling lately that I need to spend less time on the computer especially when my boys are awake. It's heart-tugging when they ask me to play with them/read to them and I'm at the computer.

According to HIS Power said...

Ouch!!! I just found your blog tonight and this really hit me on the head! First of all, I have been feeling the guilt lately of all I have to do and am not getting it done and my little girls needing Mama to get off the computer! Also, about the awards, I received one a few weeks ago and was very honored but felt bad about picking people to pass it on to. I didn't want to hurt the person's feelings who sent it to me or I would have declined it. In the future I believe that I will decline. After all, I am supposed to be blogging for me! It's just an awful reminder of high school and the popularity contests. Anyway, this is a very convicting post, thanks for the truth you spoke!

Julie

Daughter of the King said...

First time at your blog....and WOW is this article that you wrote...convicting....and alot to pray about...THANK YOU...
Deby

Suzanne said...

Hi. I don't even remember how I came across this article the 1st time, but had saved the link and thought about it again this morning. It is a great writing and very challenging. Thank you for sharing. In fact, I've referenced it to several friends.

WendyJanelle said...

ouch. Too close for comfort. And so true. Thank you for your honesty. You may help a lot of us curb our addiction. :-)

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