Have you ever set out to do a good thing, but it turned out to be something you kept having to drag out of the ditch, which turned it into something else?
Like getting back to the gym after the holidays.
You think that when you get fired up and finally go, you’ll feel better and get fit. And if you stick with it, eventually you do. But the hard truth is, there are a lot of days after you begin before anything much happens, except that you feel worse and even gain a few.
What’s more, until you got under those unflattering fluorescents, you didn’t realize you looked all that bad, but the truth is, you look worse than you knew. You thought you were just a little out of shape, but the gym mirrors tell everyone what you’d hoped your new workout clothes would hide: you’re thickening and thinning, bulging and balding, all the appalling signs of aging short of falling.
This is sort of like my experience starting a new blog. [This has also been my experience returning to the Y after Christmas, but that’s as much of that ditch as I’m gonna spill].
In October, I began writing a daily devotional that follows the reading plan of the One Year Bible. I thought it would be a good incentive for me to read the Bible, but like the Y’s “mirror-mirror on the wall,” I’m getting more than I bargained for.
For one thing, I’m trying to post something everyday. Reading my Bible everyday is challenging enough, but having something to say about it that’s actually worth reading is another thing altogether. I’m learning a lot about the Almighty for sure, and there have been a lot of really great days writing, but the main thing I seem to be learning is how much I care about doing it well and how much-too-much I care that other people like it.
Here are a few of my skids into the ditch, which I’m not liking very much at all:
Sometimes the Bible passage for the day just doesn’t make sense, even after you read commentaries and cross references. What do you write on those days?
Sometimes you don’t want to read and write, but you feel obliged because you’ve said you would. That word “daily” can be such a noose-ance around your neck. Besides, kindhearted souls are beginning to read what you write. How do you tell them you’re having an off day or that your grandson stopped by on his bike at the crack of dawn for snacks and cards, and you couldn’t turn him away?
Sometimes you’ve got prophecies back-to-back for days that you don’t have much insight about except that you just don’t get it. Honest ignorance might work for one post, but three in a row?
Tweaking your tagline from “a daily journal of the One Year Bible” to “a journal of the One Year Bible” helps take some of the pressure off, but when your stats slump after that, you wonder if you’re losing the folks who really liked the idea of “daily.” You liked it, too, but you can’t pull it off unless you’re willing to do without a daily shower, daily meals, or daily sleep, which you actually sort of daily need and missed during your blog’s newborn days.
You wish you could say it’s not been often, but truth to tell, it’s been most of the time when you sit down to write that you think you hear your blank screen sneer, “You. Can’t. Do. This.” The YMCA may have a mean mirror, but you’ve got a snarky computer. It’s hard enough getting out of bed in the morning without snide remarks to swallow with your coffee shots.
Then there are all the insecurities that lie like leeches in the ditch, ones you never knew about, dark and smarmy that suck ’til you’re stuck. They had you editing the post no one clicked to “like” so severely, now you don’t even like it.
You forget that you set out simply to share what’s been helpful to you when you read the Bible, and you realize that somewhere along the way, you’ve let something else come in and turn you into a silly stats junky, analyzing the few likes you do get to find common denominators and write for them.
But who can write for denominators? People are hard enough. You’re having to face the embarrassing truth that you want too much to be good. You want too much to be liked. You’ve forgotten that this was never about you.
This is hard terrain.
Whatever happened to simply sharing?
You wish you knew.
On the other hand, there are those days when something extraordinary happens, so out-of-the-blue and beyond you, that you’re reminded again that these are God’s words you’re reading and writing about, not yours, and that he’s got things to say in them despite your feeling stumped-and-sucky, and the best thing you can do is get over yourself and out of his way.
There are a few times when the earth and sky and sea all sing in harmony and the heavens part and a thought you could not have thought-up descends. Those are the days that keep you going. That’s when you remember that understanding who God is and what he’s like is what you really want to be about, not whether or not what you have to say is good enough.
That takes more pressure off.
And maybe the times you’ve been in the ditch, which make you cry for help, tether you like a truck’s winch. And you remember all over again what you thought you already knew: you can’t do anything without his help. It’s his ratcheting communion in the ditch, which has horsepower for you.
Maybe your computer screen is really your sincere friend telling the truth: you can’t do this, so you have to lean on him. Being stuck makes you listen and wait to begin.
“Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord,”
(Here’s a link if you want to take a look, http://iwantmore.blog).