I am a writer.
I've been a writer since I was a little girl printing out stories on my grandfather's old printer, the kind that used a roll of paper so you had to tear apart the pages and rip off the edges. Then it was stories of bunnies in the deep, dark forest and kids falling into fantasy kingdoms. Now it's a sermon a week and an article six times a year and the occasional piece for a periodical.
But there's also a novel. It's been percolating since I was nine, gone through three drafts, and the deaths of countless characters - and I want to get it published. I know the steps. I know the technical process for submitting a manuscript (at least in theory). But everyone tells me that to publish a novel you have to start blogging first. Well, ok, but...
I hate blogging.
I could tell you it's because this isn't the kind of writing I usually like to do. I could tell you that I just don't feel like I have the time to keep up a blog the way that you're supposed to (or the way that I think you're supposed to). I could even tell you that it's because I am that odd millennial who thinks that social media is the downfall of society (I've actually said this with more conviction than I ever intended at a regional conference. It went over about as well as the time I suggested adding fruit to our youth Sunday school snacks as a healthy side to the usual donuts). I could tell you all of these things.
But I would be lying.
Here's the truth: I don't particularly like blogging because it makes me feel vulnerable. Here I am sharing what's in my head with a group of people I might not even have met before. Here I am being honest about my thoughts, my perceptions, and my opinions, all of which may be very different from yours. Here I am opening myself up to criticism and even conflict, should we not agree - and for the conflict-averse, that's a terrifying prospect. I don't like blogging because I typically don't like to ruffle feathers or invite criticism or expose my tender thoughts to ridicule.
Which makes me a bad Christian.
No, I'm not beating myself up by saying that. And no, I'm not exaggerating either. I honestly think that I'm worse-off as a disciple because I don't want to make waves or get into an argument. Just a couple of weeks ago I had the great privilege of hearing Dr. Jonathan Walton offer a keynote address at the NEXT Church national gathering. His topic? Be suspicious of praise. In it he reminded us of how Christ traded the praise of the people for persecution when he started speaking truth to power. He reminded us of how many confrontations Jesus found himself in the midst of because of the healing and liberating and welcoming that he was doing. And he called us to follow in Christ's footsteps - being wary of praise because it might mean that we aren't doing the hard, risky, transformative work to which we are called as the body of Christ. Because speaking truth to power does bring us into conflict, and being vulnerable with others in order to create relationships does leave us open to criticism, and working for justice does make waves.
So here I am, blogging.
For me, it's an important act of discipleship - not because of the writing itself but because of how uncomfortable it makes me feel and why. For me, it's an exercise in vulnerability and living with tension. For me, it's a discipline that will help me grow in my call as a follower of Christ - into someone who doesn't need praise to know that I'm ok and who can tolerate conflict as I work for justice. For me, this matters.
What matters for you?
It's probably not blogging, though I doubt I'm alone on this one. The question is: what will help you to grow as a disciple? What will prepare you to live into your call to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with your God, even when that call might bring you into places of judgment or even ridicule? What discipline pushes you just outside of what's comfortable and into that transformative place where the Spirit singes and buffets you with the fire and wind of Pentecost? What matters to your life as a Christ follower - and are you ready to try it?