Category Archives: blogging

A Treasury of Writing from Small Bloggers

Last night on Twitter I spontaneously asked bloggers to send me a link to their favorite piece of writing. I thought maybe like five people would respond. I was flooded with replies.

As of this morning, people are still replying to me–eager to share their favorite writing. I am overwhelmed in all the right ways.

Tears pour down my cheeks as I read of lost brothers, the beauty of living a life of “measurable solitude,” of unabashedly “being fat,” of new definitions for Godly womanhood, of being discouraged by how Christians use the phrase “speaking the truth in love” and wanting to BE something kinder.

I’m amazed by how many “undiscovered” writers there are–bravely putting their feelings and thoughts into words and sending them out into the great void–many times without receiving a comment, a tweet, an FB share or word of encouragement in return.

Your bravery, friends. Your beauty. Your daring. It touched me so deeply. It convicted me.

I realized how “stuck” I’d become in my own little online niche–always reading the same blogs, the same Twitter feeds. I was reminded how important it is to read widely, read outside my comfort zone.

There was one common refrain among those who shared with me. It went something like this: “I’m not a great writer, but here’s a piece I kinda like…” Or: “Nobody reads my stuff, but here’s a piece I’d really like more people to see…”

That broke my heart. I, too, remember feeling invisible. I remember wondering why I kept blogging and writing when nobody was reading. I remember checking my stats and seeing 38 pageviews. I was like: WOW! THIRTY EIGHT! And then I remembered that probably 20 of them were me checking my own site, lol.

But the same fire that was in me back then is still in me today and so I kept writing. I wrote because I loved writing, because I dared to hope someday someone would read my words and say: “YES! Me too! I’ve felt that way.” I blogged because I longed for connection.

We so NEED encouragement on this writing journey, don’t we? Writing is such a solitary endeavor and with it, the deep-seated fear that no-one will like what we wrote, no-one will understand us. I’m here today to tell you: what you’re doing is valuable. It’s meaningful. KEEP GOING.

Today, I’d like to encourage that connection by sharing a few of the most outstanding excerpts from the posts I read last night.

And I hope you’ll continue the encouragement by clicking over to their site and leaving an encouraging comment. Tell them what it was about their writing that you loved. Share your own story with them. If you’re a writer or blogger, you know how much it means when someone takes the time to tell you they appreciate your words.

I don’t have a problem referring to myself as “fat” and “ugly” because those are simply descriptors. They hold no moral weight. They are not indicative of my value as a person…Acknowledging the reality of my appearance has not been depressing; it has been freeing. I don’t have to pretend that I’m pretty..Joi @ Confessions of a Fat, Ugly Geek

Sometimes I feel suffocated. The guilt is the absolute worst. It sucks that I have to do extra stuff for him. But it sucks worse when I don’t want to do those things, because that makes me feel like a horrible person…I have to do all those little extra things that come with having a quadriplegic husband and taking him to the beach, and making sure he doesn’t get too hot, and making sure there is parking, and not being able to go down to the water to lay out because the planked walkways only go so far in that particular spot. –Dana @ Love Like This Life

You decide to write about your day. Then you remember that your days are spent in measurable solitude. Alone, but surrounded by people. You worry that people will pity you. That people will think how you must be sad soul. How lonely you must be. You write it anyway.  –Melody Cook @ Melody’s Musings

It often feels like I’m standing in front of an eternal card catalogue, where I’ve so carefully filed every experience and insight about God, the life of faith, the church. I’m standing there, pulling out one card at a time, and I’m flummoxed. Is this true? Why do I think or believe this? Is this mine? Or did I inherit it from my parents, my church, my fear?  Not everything is wrong, not every foundation I’ve built my life upon is sand. Thank you, God. –Sarah Torna Roberts

The language we have access to really determines the thoughts and feelings we’re allowed to have, and while CCM was its own unique kind of solace to me in hard times, it also limited my emotional range and somewhat hid me from the fact that pretty much all of my feelings were normal (not necessarily “good” or “healthy” way but “hey, many people feel like this, no you’re not a monster” way). –Kirby @ The Coffee Spoon

In such an atmosphere of freedom and grace,I find that I’m not such a drinker these days. And there you have God’s approach in a nutshell – change never comes from Him belittling you or making you feel like a failure, it comes from a place of complete love and acceptance. -–Emma @ Faith Monkey

This is not a story of how things get better real quick, or how time heals everything, or how there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel because you realize that isn’t always true when you’re a year past trauma and you’re still clinging to your pillow and kleenex like they are your life line. –Rebekah Richardson @ With His Hands

I am a woman and I want to be treated as a human being who has valuable thoughts and opinions. I want to be treated this way not just by other women, but also by men. –Maggie @ Sparks From the Soul

Renewal is a PROCESS, not a one-time event! This approach to our spiritual, emotional, and personal lives would reap far more benefit than a “resolution.” If we embrace the PROCESS, than any day is a day in which we can decide to start or continue renewal. If we don’t expect a one-time event, then we can be patient with ourselves and with our God… –Clark @ Mirrors

Married people have babies. These things happen. And then we are married almost three years and I CAN’T WAIT ANY LONGER. The plan is to start trying. Sooner than later.And then lymphoma. --Andrea @ Honesty With Andrea

Thank you for sharing your hearts & writing with me. I’m beyond honored. Keep going. KEEP WRITING.

In defense of the pretty, staged, lifestyle Mommy blogs because I like them now, ok?

These days it’s cool to be uncool, hip to be nerdy and good to be bad. These days, a mess isn’t messy it’s….authentic. For the most part I like this trend because I like brutal honesty. But I’ve also experienced a massive reversal of opinion regarding super-pretty-stagey-Mommy-blogs. I used to secretly despise these lifestyle Mommy bloggers. Well, maybe it wasn’t such a secret, oh look! I blogged about it . Now? These lifestyle people kinda save my life.

Because My Brian needs pretty things.

If you live inside My Brian (INSIDE JOKE! read yesterday’s post!), you need pretty things to keep you sane. I say this as someone who has been to rehab and needed pretty pictures from lifestyle magazines to give her hope that Beauty Existed. I needed to believe there WAS such a thing as tidy kitchens with frilly curtains on the windows and ripe, homegrown vegetables artfully arranged on pretty vintage plates.

It didn’t matter if it was fake. It didn’t matter if it was staged. It was the IDEA of beauty that kept me from wanting to hurt myself. Just the IDEA that maybe, someday, I’d be sane enough to want to plant my own vegetable garden like the one I saw in Sunset magazine helped me survive another day inside My Brian.

Sometimes you hang onto those ideas and even if it’s fake, even if you KNOW it was STAGED by like twenty designers, you just don’t care. You look at that picture in Pottery Barn magazine or on your favorite lifestyle blog and it saves your life a little bit. At least for the next twenty minutes. Or maybe the whole day. Which is really saying something when you’ve been trained to believe that the world has been ending since 1988.

My point is, can we give the lifestyle bloggers a break? They are doing awesome work in this world and so what if their vintage-only-upcycled kitchen never REALLY looks like that except when they stage it that way for a blog post. Good for them. Good for them for being so EARNEST about seeking beauty.

I’m pretty sure the world doesn’t need more cynicism. Or mess. Or ugliness.

But more pretty pictures? Yes, please.

When depression hits me like a black tidal wave, where do I go? To the pretty pictures. To the extra-optimistic-pretty-lifestyle blogs. To Pinterest.

I don’t go to the REAL, AUTHENTIC, PAINFUL stories and pictures. Which is to say, I don’t read people who write like me, har-har. And I certainly don’t listen to the news.

I watch crochet videos on YouTube.

I follow the Instagram accounts of women who make hippie-jewelry and take pictures of flowers and give out balloons to random people just to be nice. I like to know those people exist. I like to see their daily outfits. I like to see their bowls of artfully arranged quinoa.

I like to know that somewhere, some awesome human being is organizing her blog’s editorial calendar six months in advance. With pretty pictures and giveaways. THESE PEOPLE INSPIRE ME.

I don’t CARE if this lifestyle blogger has a whole bevy of paid staff and virtual assistants who do her laundry and reply to her emails while she blogs about her Paleo-Attachment-Hobby-Farming-Vintage-Upcycling-Fashion Life and picks out a pretty, coordinating outfit.

Because the lifestyle blogger is giving me an incredible gift: she believes in BEAUTY. And she puts effort into it. Props to that, man. PROPS TO THAT.

Even if the pretty lifestyle blogger had to fake it ’til she made it, that gives me hope, too. I can fake it ’til I make it, too. 

Look. My Brian? It’s no joke. There are days when I wake up and pain from my past has decided to show up and beat me down. My Brian is yelling at me so loud that all I want to do is scream. But I breathe in and I breathe out and then I pin a few pretty pictures on Pinterest.

My PTSD brain needs to know that beauty EXISTS SOMEWHERE in this world and if that means looking at staged pics of some Mommy Blogger’s living room, well, thank God for her.

Thank you fake, pretty lifestyle blogs. Thank you for healing my Brian.

All blogged out

You guys, I feel all blogged out. All Twittered out. All IG’d out. I wrote the book I wanted to write. I poured my heart and body and soul into it. I’m proud of what I did and then? I had to promote it (btw, my book signing last weekend went AWESOME!). Note to hopeful authors: if writing a book doesn’t kill you, promoting it DEFINITELY will. Or maybe not. Maybe that’s just me and my ENFP-ness projecting on you.

POINT IS, I’m running on empty.

Maybe this is what burnout feels like? Again?

This morning I saw a video that brought such tears of joy to my eyes. It’s such a beautiful thing–this spontaneous, amazing, exquisite, unplanned explosion of pure art…of a pure REAL-LIFE moment.

I feel like I’m missing some of these REAL LIFE moments. I’ve been blogging for nearly 8 years. I’ve accomplished everything I set out to accomplish–and more. I’ve made various “top blogger” lists, have thousands of subscribers, lots of page views, have been on TV shows, landed a book deal, published a book….and now? I’m exhausted.

I’m having a mid-blog crisis.

It feels like the goal post has moved. I got where I wanted to be and Whatever I’m Supposed To Feel Now is still out of my reach.

It’s like when I lost all that weight, fit into my size 2 dress and was all: “I don’t feel any happier now than when I was thirty pounds heavier.”

I guess I just don’t know what I’m supposed to say anymore. Aren’t y’all sick of me yet? Because I’m sick of MYSELF! <—–see that? I even hate that I use all-caps all the time. Ugh. It’s so…Internet-y.

I’m so SICK of Internet-ese: THIS. I can’t even. ALL the Feelings. This is EVERYTHING.

I feel like social media is destroying my writing ability.

In fact, last year when I was trying to finish my book I had to seriously take a break from Twitter because I had STARTED THINKING IN 144 CHARACTERS.

This scares me. I’m worried I’m killing brain cells.

I’m sick of Twitter and how it becomes vicious in 2.5 seconds. Social media was gonna be this thing that brought everyone together. But the world is more polarized than ever and anyone who tells you Internet fights don’t affect you in real life is lying.

Fighting on the Internet exhausts me in real life.

Maybe other people have thicker skin? Or maybe I no longer tolerate high levels of drama in my life?

I’m sick of having to squish my feelings into 140 characters. I’m sick of only seeing my friends ONLINE. I have this friend whom I’ve been trying to converse with IN REAL LIFE for almost a year and the only time we can connect is if I disagree with her on the Internet.

Is that really even a “friend”? Friends don’t talk on the phone anymore, I guess?–not to mention see each other in real life anymore?

This makes me so sad!

I’m sorry, world, but I just don’t have a viral post in me every week. Or month. Or year. Everyone talks about their posts going viral as if it’s this great thing but they totally forget to mention how exhausting it is, too. It’s exhausting getting hate mail–even if the positive mail outnumbers the hate mail. It’s exhausting having to moderate and delete nasty comments–even if the positive comments outnumber the negative ones. It’s exhausting having to block people on Twitter who just want to pick at you–even if the encouragers outnumber the trolls.

I need to stop complaining now because the Internet and my blog has given me SO MUCH and I truly am grateful. This blog—YOU, my readers–have encouraged me over so many years! I have to tell myself that the Silent Readers are the truly supportive ones. Sometimes I over-focus on the negative people and allow those voices to fill me with self-doubt.

The ones who have been reading me for years and witnessed my ups and downs–and keep reading–THANK YOU.

I’m just worn out and this makes me grumpy.

I’m worn out from feeding the endlessly hungry Internet beast.

I need more real life moments. I need a Summer Break, ya know? I need to re-focus on my recovery. Because if my recovery doesn’t come first, everything else suffers.

Mama needs a blog-battical.

So, I’m taking a stack of books, my notebook and favorite pen and heading out to the pool. I’ll be reading and writing and dreaming for awhile.

I’ll be back when I’m feeling more mEE-ish. (Which, you know, could be tomorrow.)

Until then, READ MY BOOK. And email me. I would love to hear from you! xo. EE.

 

EE’s Best Posts of 2013

Most Raw, Vulnerable Posts of 2013:

1. I Wear My Heart on my Sleeve

2. Not all wire hangers are misogynists, apparently

3. Loneliness & tuna casseroles

4. When living hurts too much

5. When I look in the mirror I see a fat girl

Most Read Posts of All Time:

1. Why We Left Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa

2. A Handy Guide for Dealing with Manipulative People

3. Virginity: New & Improved!

4. Good Christian girls don’t talk about sex; we just obsess about it

5. How Many Children Must Die Before Mike & Debi Pearl are Held Accountable?

6. How to talk to someone living inside an abusive church or cult

7. The New Misogyny: bro-dude pastors, sexist Christian comedians and abuse apologetics disguised as female empowerment

Most Helpful Recovery Posts of 2013:

1. How to recover from a damaging church experience

2. How to recognize unhealthy personal boundaries in yourself and others

3. Cults & Codependency

4. Don’t Engage the (Religious) Crazy

5. When God is your abuser

 

Screen-Shot-2013-04-10-at-11.04.23-AM-480x455

Most Loved ENFP Posts:

1. How an ENFP goes grocery shopping

2. How an ENFP celebrates the holidays

3. Fitness Tips for ENFPs

4. Real-life conversations between an ENFP (me) and an ISTJ (my husband)

5. Lazy, flighty, slobby, commitment-phobe! (Understanding your ENFPs “dark side”)

Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Because my 7th grade son said so.

photoMy 7th grade son sat me down and had a serious talk with me about my YouTube channel.

“You don’t even have channel art? Or a PROFILE PIC???? MOM!”

So, I let him crop and upload and do a bunch of stuff that my old brain couldn’t figure out. And now? He says YOU, my dear readers, really MUST subscribe AND watch at least 2 videos tonight. So. You know, SUBSCRIBE HERE!!! The Management (aka, James) thanks you. ;-)

New Blog Reveal!

Do you like my new blog design? I’m super happy about it. Simple. Clean. Fresh. Many thanks to Micah Murray who was willing to work for me despite my heretical opinions, my offensive appearances on Fox News and my being Catholic. Also, I like dogs and he likes cats. Clearly, he should not associate with the likes of moi. Oh, wait. I’m making that part up. I actually have no idea whether he is a pet-lover or not. Because. When I ask someone to re-design my blog I don’t CARE about their opinions on pet-ownership, beer vs. wine, infant baptism vs. “age of accountability,” Democrats v. Republicans, YOLOSwag v. SwagYOLO or whether cookie butter is better than biscoff. [Note: Cookie Butter is WAY better. But I digress].

The point is, I just want GOOD work. And I liked what Micah did with his blog. So there.

Micah did a great job for me and, after being rejected by another designer who refused to work for me because she Disagreed With My Opinions, I’m especially grateful for friends like Micah–and YOU, dear reader–who stick with me through my admittedly lame, blundering, often-fraught, sometimes whimsical, messy process. This is my process, yo. Welcome to the beautiful mess.

 

 

 

Not all wire hangers are misogynists. Apparently.

A few months ago, I had an embarrassing incident with some wire hangers in my closet. I had set out to organize! cleanse! make all things new!

But the wire hangers, they were acting all privileged. Hogging too much room. Patriarchal, really. Wire hangers, as we all know, are EFFING MISOGYNISTS, AM I RIGHT????

Ahem. Forgive me, this will all make sense momentarily.

The Wire Hanger Meltdown was followed by The Pool Chair Incident. Because, obviously, Pool Chair is just another way of saying Cult Leader–especially when it refuses to properly recline and instead crashes down, landing your ass on the cement pool deck.

“Mommy, why are you crying?”

“BECAUSE THE EFFING CULT LEADER THREW ME ON THE GROUND!”

“You mean the pool chair?”

“No. I mean THE CULT LEADER.”

And that is what we call “My Rock Bottom Moment.” Clearly, I needed help. Probably this came as no surprise to anyone but myself.

: :

I’d been getting emails. Messages. Tweets.

I don’t like your tone, Elizabeth. You sound different. You sound angry. Not all churches are cults, Elizabeth. Not all men are cult leaders. You’re being unfair, unkind, preposterous. Sometimes you have good things to say, Elizabeth, but your tone is so harsh. Why are you so bitter? Why can’t you just move on? Stop being such a victim, Elizabeth. Maybe you should write a disclaimer before you share your experiences because your abuse is not the norm. –Signed, A Caring Reader.

I mean, enough people tell you the same thing and you finally gotta check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Which I did. I checked myself right into an Online Timeout. I’ve been quiet lately.

: :

Back to the story. I was angry. Very angry. Mostly, at God. And pastors. And churches. And apparently, pool chairs. Little League. Citibank. Wire hangers. Cult leaders. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s start with the anger.

Anger is exhausting. I think I read that in the book of Revelation. Which is to say, when you’re angry, you view all of life through an angry filter. It was like I put on my angry glasses each morning and went hunting for Bad Pastors, Bad Churches and Bad Theology.

This is an exhausting way to live.

I don’t know whether my rock bottom was burnout, anxiety or generalized hysteria but I’m pretty sure it was a combination of all three. The Interwebz can you make you batshit cray, this we know.

Point is, I put my ass in timeout—oh, wait. I’ve already said this. This, you see, is what happens when you’re angry: you forget you’ve already said things and then you start repeating yourself over and over until people are like: yeah, yeah, we GET IT. YOU WERE ABUUUUSED.

: :

I’ve been working a 12 step program. This is uncomfortable. Mainly, because at some point you have to stop talking about All The Ways You’ve Been Hurt and start taking responsibility for the ways you hurt others.

This is annoying. Also, profoundly difficult. I would really rather skip this part.

But I won’t. I’m gonna work it.

: :

I’ve been wrestling with questions:

At what point does the victim become the abuser?

At what point does my anger no longer serve me?

: :

I read this article about survivors of the Holocaust. The researcher was trying to find out why certain survivors went on to live meaningful, productive lives after all they’d endured? I can’t remember the details, but basically, it was that the survivors who lived long, meaningful lives maintained a deep faith and an optimistic spirit. They didn’t just define themselves by their awful experience, they proactively sought ways to make the world a better place for others–even if it was just their families.

: :

A whole person cannot be solely defined by what she stands against. A whole person must stand for something, too.

: :

I have lashed out, criticized, deconstructed, questioned and chided the religious powers that be. This was an important part of my journey and I honor it. But I made mistakes along the way and despite my good intentions, I have hurt people. I hurt myself.

I set out to organize! set right! cleanse! make all things new!

But I got entangled somehow. The weapons that were used against me I used against others.

The problem was not so-and-so-pastor or so-and-so-church. My mistake was playing whack-a-mole with every suspicious church or pastor that came across my radar. Sure, I can react, react, react all day. But then what?

In other words, what am I doing to build up the Church? What am I doing to edify and create new, healthy culture within the Church?

Criticism is necessary but it’s not enough.
I can’t build a culture of love and peace using weapons of hate and warfare. 

: :

I don’t have all the answers, here. But I want you to know I’m taking time to examine myself, to check my motives and sincerely seek to understand how I can use my words to effect positive change. Thank you for being patient with me…..

A mandate of freedom

I don’t claim infallible sight. I’ve never claimed to be on a mission from God. What I do claim is the mandate of freedom to see what I see and say what I see.

Some call it truth. Others call it lies. Some call it courage. Others call it cowardice.

Some say I’m leading souls to Hell. Others say I’ve led them to freedom.

I think the truth–whatever it is–probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Ultimately, what people think of me is none of my business.

If I am overly invested in approval OR disapproval, I give others power over what I see and what I say.

I give myself permission to make mistakes, change my mind, apologize, wear a headscarf, wear a bikini, state an opinion, recant an opinion, experiment, ask questions and find answers wherever I find them.

I believe in a Big God who is able to handle my mistakes and if I’ve gone off track, well, God is big enough to let me know that, too.

My loyalty is not to my popularity. My loyalty is to knowing myself.

And who I am is ever changing. Growing and changing is scary but I ask God for the courage to change.

There are many things I cannot change and I acknowledge them:

I cannot change others, save others or wait for others to change before I change myself.

I can’t wait for others to take care of themselves before I take care of myself.

I can’t wait for circumstances to change before I take ownership of my own happiness.

I can’t wait for others to recognize my talent before I start exercising my gifts.

I can’t wait for someone to rescue me before I save myself.

I can’t wait for others to join me before I embark on the journey.

I believe in having fun. I don’t take myself too seriously.

I trust myself to make the decisions that are best for me and my family without seeking prior approval from others.

I make an effort to own my side of the blogosphere and keep it pretty.

My side of the blogosphere is damn awesome and I don’t need to let batsh*t crazy come crap all over my pretty lawn.

When I protect myself, I protect you. When I don’t waste my time, I don’t waste yours, either.

When I refuse to engage the crazy, I prevent the spreading of crazy.

I see what I see and I say what I see.

I am a woman of valor.

I believe in freedom.

The New Misogyny: “bro-culture” pastors, sexist Christian comedians and abuse apologetics disguised as female empowerment

When I was growing up, the Christian misogynist wore a suit and tie, poured on enough cologne to slay an elephant and toted a Bible the size of an encyclopedia. This pastor boomed Biblical pronouncements from the pulpit and quoted lots of Scripture to defend his abusive, anti-woman teachings.

You know, I kinda miss the Old School Misogynist. At least he was obvious. At least he didn’t pretend to be all pro-woman.

These days, the Christian misogynist is far more subtle. He probably wears hip clothing and may even use feminist jargon to disguise his underlying sexism.

These are the pastors who tweet and talk endlessly about their smokin’ hot wives.   These are the “Christian comedians” who write dating manifestos about why Christian “girls” don’t have boyfriends. Apparently, reading your Bible at Starbucks is NOT attractive to these men. Maybe you should try wearing white shorts to a prayer meeting.

What makes me ill is that these are men are my peers. These guys are not my Dad’s age. These guys are not my grandfather. These men should know better.

It’s even more discouraging when you call their views offensive only to be told by their yes-men, “Hey, can’t you take a joke?”

This is the New Misogyny: when huge bloggers like Jon Acuff claim that sexist jokes about women help “clear away the clutter of Christianity so we can see the beauty of Christ.”

This is the New Misogyny: when bestselling Christian authors tell “girls” how to live a better love story by being a supporting character in a story a man is writing. [Note: Don Miller took down that post, but I never heard him recant his harmful view of women.]

This is the New Misogyny: when Prodigal magazine publishes sexist articles under the guise of satire and “truth telling.” Oh, yes.  John B. Crist believes his sexist humor is excusable because he’s JUST TELLING THE TRUTH.

 

[Note: Prodigal removed that post w/o explanation]

This is the New Misogyny: when a popular author of many books on Christian ministry and spirituality asks women why they don’t comment on his blog and then he dismisses their answers.

This is the New Misogyny: when a woman engaging theology blogs under a male pseudonym is treated with greater respect than when she comments as her female persona.

This is the New Misogyny: when “Biblical Marriagists” claim they’re empowering women while defending the very theology that oppresses them.

You guys. What is happening, here?

It’s not that I doubt the sincerity of all these Christians. In fact, it’s their sincerity which troubles me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all my years in an abusive church, it’s that the most dangerous abuse apologetic comes from a sincere heart and good intentions.

And the most subtle form of spiritual abuse is cloaked in messages of empowerment.

I guess when you’re hip and sincere, nobody suspects you of misogyny. You can tell the same lies about women that have been told for thousands of years and all anybody will see is the sincerity of your heart and your precious nerd glasses.

*due to an anti-feminist website sending an influx of trolling commenters, comments for this post are now closed.*

Nothing less than everything

I gave everything I had to the first two drafts of my book. And now, I must give more. This has shattered me. Because it is true. I must give more.

And yet, giving more is not what I thought it was. Giving more actually means letting go more. Loosening more. Freeing myself more. I’m still hanging on. I’m still second-guessing. I’m still afraid. I’m still writing in half-measures. The first draft was all fight and victory. The second draft was all victim and being acted upon. The third draft is a marriage between victor and victim. The third draft erases the dichotomies and allows all of it to co-exist together: the rage, the victory, the soulfulness, the sorrow, disappointment, the pain and joy.

The third draft requires nothing less than everything.

I am reminded that nothing less than everything is also what love is. A true, fully splendored love is not a love of half-measures. It is not only victor. It is not only conquest. Love is also a servant. Love is also gentleness, surrender, receiving, giving.

I went to bed for two straight days. I was depressed as hell. I tore down parts of my blog, slashed and wailed and screamed. I have been keeping back half my heart from you. And I don’t want to give it because I know what will happen: rejection.

Yes, rejection. This is love’s risk: rejection. That I will hand you my vulnerable, breakable heart and you will stamp it out on the ground. Or, maybe you’ll accept it, but I’m still scared because: I HAVE REJECTED OTHERS’ HEARTS.

Oh, God! I am part of this Internet culture that despises and mocks and finds fault and blames and accuses and is So Very Outraged. I am the chief of all rejecters!

I lay in bed and I wept for my sins. How did I come to this place? How did I come to be the arbiter of grace, the gatekeeper of grace, the decider of who and who should NOT be the recipient of grace?

I have come to this place because I have built a habit of self-righteousness, a habit of outrage that is, actually, a habit of cowardice. How many times have I taken the cheap shot? How many times have I engaged in the rank futility of online arguments? How many times have I exchanged the open-hearted grace of Christ for the quick thrill of Being Right?

This is my sin.

And it has shown up in my book. I am incapable of writing a book that is complex and poignant and transformative because I rely on HASTE. My writing instincts have been shaped by blogging. I know how to go for the gut appeal, the conversation-starter, the provocation.

But this does not work in books. At least, not in the kind of book I really need to write.

I must wean myself off the addiction to feedback, approval, going viral, punchy tweets. I must SLOW DOWN in order to really give.

I must give nothing less than everything.

I have all these fears: you will leave, you will forget me, you will walk away, I will become irrelevant, I will miss an opportunity, I will miss my deadline, people will not be reading books by the time mine is done (yes! I’ve actually thought that).

And then I look at these fears and see them for what they really are: egocentric. It’s all about me. And all about MY career. And MY ideas of what it should be. And MY hopes to be like ___________(fill in the blank great writer).

I have to give up. Again. It’s a daily thing, this giving up. This is what faith is. It is a giving up. A letting go of outcomes, of plans, of hopes and dreams. It is a letting go of haste and hurry and convenience. It is a letting go of thinking it was All Up To Me.

It is a letting go of thinking that I can just hammer this thing out and produce a brilliant manuscript because I AM A GIFTED WRITER.

I am a sprinter (bloggers usually are) but writing a book is a marathon. If I’m going to make the transition to truly writing a book I can be proud of, I have to let go of blogging. I really do. I’m not going to make any hard and fast rules, here. But blogging is short-form writing and what I’m trying to do right now is long-form writing.

Two drafts later I realize I SUCK AT LONG FORM.

But! There is hope! Because I’ve already reworked the first four chapters and I have to say: they are pretty kickass. My editor agrees.

If I can give nothing less than everything, then the book I will put into your hands will be a damn good book. I will serve you, the reader, by giving nothing less than everything.

I will serve you and I will risk giving you my broken, vulnerable, breakable heart.

Because that’s what love is. Love gives nothing less than everything.

There is a price to pay. It’s called letting go.

This is me.

Letting go.

This is me casting myself upon nothing less than the mercy of God.

kyrie eleison, christe eleison.

{comments closed}