A week or so ago, the 600th daily devotional posted to Comfort and Challenge. Because we were camping with family, it was scheduled in advance and went live while I slept. A couple days ago I remembered I’d reached that milestone, with that same mixture of bewilderment and amusement I get when I pass my exit ramp because I’m singing along to the radio.
Putting up a celebratory graphic seemed less urgent than it had at 500 or 100 posts. I settled for being happy to have not yet faltered in this little project, and getting that much closer to number 735 at the end of this liturgical year.
But something seemed different. Reflecting on whether or not I should bother noting what’s really only another number made me realize that all this blogging has had an effect on me. Have you ever heard the JW Stephens quote, “Be the person your dog thinks you are?” Well somewhere along the line I’ve become invested in being the person my blog thinks I am.
All this writing about peacemaking, forgiveness, judgment, generosity, community, and hypocrisy is actually being read by a few people. Some I know personally, some I know via social media, and some I can’t say I know at all. But it matters to me whether they think I actually try to live out the values I write about. Not because I’m worried about their opinion of me (well, not primarily – I’m only human), but because I have foolishly been bold enough to imply my character has been improved by my faith. If that influence is all words and thoughts and bears no fruit, I’m not doing right by God – like a fig tree that won’t produce figs. That didn’t end well for the tree.
The changes have been subtle, but real. So what’s changed?
I’m more restrained on social media. I certainly have my political and social beliefs and like everyone else think they are obviously correct, but reconciling has become more important than convincing. If I feel I should contribute to the conversation, I’m more interested in telling you my story and asking about yours than preaching about what the right story should be. I won’t tell you why you can’t be a Christian and support Issue X or Candidate Z, but I’ll explain why I can’t. And I’ve also just become a lot less opinionated, at least in forums that are about spreading division.
I’m learning to forgive faster. Forgiveness as a process differs for everyone, but the rancor of the last election and its fallout really hit home. For the first time in memory, our family is not all on the same political page, and it feels personal (it wasn’t). It’s a stark example of how people with equally good intentions can come to radically different decisions. Let’s just say I wasn’t on the winning side, and it was really tempting to wrap myself in the comforting blanket of victimhood. But thinking about what I’d read and written over the first year of the blog didn’t allow for that. It didn’t allow for thinking I should push until other people budged. It only allowed for figuring out how to live in love.
I need a church. A few years ago I left the church I was attending and became part of a home church. That peacably ran its course a few months ago, and I’ve been without any formal Christian community since. What’s odd to me is all this delving into scripture has left me far less interested in selecting a community based on its creed or denominational theology but on how it lives the Gospel. My theology is decidedly progressive, but I’ve learned even progressive congregations can be protectionist and more about theory than practice. I’m not all that interested in formally joining a denomination or even signing on for membership in a congregation. But I’m not good at finding ways to spread the gospel and feed the hungry on my own, so I’m willing to make some theological concessions for a local community that guides me in clothing the naked and visiting the sick.
There’s more, but this is long enough. I am grateful to everyone who has read and/or commented, because that’s encouraged me to keep going. I am a better person because of you – because of God working through you. It’s said that writers ultimately write for themselves. Before I write, I try to remember to pray to find words that honor God and benefit readers. Though I hope it’s not the case, if the only reader I’m benefiting is myself, this is totally worth the effort.
Peace and thanks!
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