I’m happy to have Addie over at the blog, and I know you’ll enjoy this, my friends! Thanks, Addie. To read the other articles in this Series by some amazing people, click here.
The Ways Blogging is Healing Me
In the spring of 2011, I hauled my 8-month-pregnant body to the podium at Hamline University to give my graduate reading. The baby’s feet were jammed up in my ribcage, and my lungs had so little space left for expanding that I had to pause after every couple of sentences to catch my breath.
The manuscript that I read from that night was my memoir, How to Talk Evangelical. I’d started my MFA program as a young, evangelical wife, freshly back from a year of teaching in China. I didn’t know that I was already up to my ankles in the slow-sinking sand of Depression. I didn’t see that wild, angry crisis of faith coming. I smacked into it at full speed.
My manuscript is a reflection of a five-year journey away from and back toward God. I was writing into the anger, into the pain. I was digging through the past, pulling sharp shards of memories out of my heart and into the light.
It was messy and raw and a little volatile, and when I was done, I felt very weak – like someone who has just gotten better from a long bout with a terrible flu and is maybe ready to try eating…but probably just half a piece toast.
One year later, when my agent told me that I needed to start a blog, I felt defeated before I even started. I thought, I am not a blogger. I thought, I have two really little kids and NO TIME EVER.
I thought that “platform” was about numbers and followers and selling a book. But it turned out to be something entirely different.
And here it is: I’d spent five years ripping up the rotten, mildewed boards of my warped view of God. A theology that could not sustain the weight of my pain.
But as I began writing my blog, I realized that we were not so much building a platform for a book as a new platform of faith. A sturdier foundation. Something I could stand on; something that could hold me up.
In keeping with the theme of my book, I began to write, twice a week, about evangelical terms. Cliches. Things like Jesus freak and on fire and feeling God’s presence. I wrote to shine a light on the ways we miss it in the evangelical culture, but instead, I found the light turned in on my own dark places. My own failings and doubts. My own unhealed pain.
The discipline of putting something out there twice a week, every week, feels like a kind of faith in itself. These days, the old ways of “quiet time” feel foreign and forced, but the blog has given me an unexpected way back in.
Term by term, day by day, I get up and look at the pond while the sun rises. I write a sentence. Erase it. Write two. Erase. Painstakingly, word by word, God is giving me new language, a new way to talk about longing and struggle and doubt. A new way of seeing him.
Where I’ve struggled to be honest about my pain in church and small groups and the usual places where Christians gather, I am finding a new place in the borderless internet. I am finding voices who echo back my heart, and reading them every day is like eating good, hearty bread.
I write, and it feels holy. I read, and it feels like community. And yes, there are days when it’s hard. When my heart gets bogged down with numbers and stats and rejection and the who-said-what of it all…
But most days, it feels like we are all building it together. Like we’re pounding it all out, nail by nail, board by board, with a carpenter from Nazareth. Like every day, I am finding my footing a little bit more.