So way back in June of 2013 I wrote a post about the church I grew up in and guilt and faith and . . . well it was basically one of those rant-ish posts that I hit Publish on maybe before I should have.
And it was also one of those posts that is controversial, which means it spread quickly and was very popular. I don’t have my stats from back then, but I had a ton of comments on the post and quite a few shares and comments on Facebook.
I will say that reading my old journals in 2013 and seeing all the guilt in them is one of the big things that brought me to my current crisis of faith. Much of what I said in that post is still 100% percent true today. Here’s an example:
Let me say it: Guilt can no longer be my reason for believing in God and living a Christian life.
I am not saying that guilt has no place in the church; certainly, the Holy Spirit convicts us of times we have hurt ourselves or others and urges us to make all things right. But guilt can no longer be my motivator. Guilt has spent years chewing me up and spitting me out and convincing me that I am unworthy. Guilt has made me always scared that I will be judged and rejected. In some ways, guilt has made me turn my eyes toward others in judgment and demand perfection from them. Because I could never bear to turn my eyes inward and accept myself.
But after the popularity of the post died down and people went on with their business, I found out that my dad had read that post, and it had hurt him. We ended up having a really good conversation, a conversation where deep healing takes place. I wrote about that, too. And that post only got 2 comments.
Humans are drawn to controversy. You can deny it, but it’s true. Have you ever slowed down to see what’s going on when you passed an accident? I have. We can’t help it. For some reason, we humans seek out things that will shock us. Maybe that means we have a desire to feel deeply, more deeply than a mundane day of our lives can provide.
I could have a more popular blog if I wrote more about controversial issues. I know that. I have read enough spiritual blogs to see which pieces go viral. They are the pieces that stir up strong feelings. They are the pieces that people vehemently disagree with, or wholeheartedly agree with. Believe me, I have drafted those posts. Posts that will get people arguing. Posts that will rile people up.
But I am learning not to press Publish. Don’t get me wrong; I want to be famous. I do. I want to be well known and beloved and praised.
But I don’t know if I want to be famous for controversy. Part of me knows that nothing changes unless someone dares to speak out and say things that no one else is brave enough to say. Yet while I want to be empowered to speak my truth, that doesn’t mean I want to constantly be stirring up anger.
I think I’d rather be well known for writing something that makes people think, that gives people hope, that endears readers to a character, that helps somebody with their life. Maybe one day I will get there.
Yesterday, for whatever reason, that old post started going around again. In one day, it got over 1100 views. There were a few additional comments, and a few shares on Facebook. Despite all that, I got only one new blog follower.
This, then, is the fight: To live and to write for the right reasons, not just to live or to write to be noticed. I can’t worry about numbers. I have to be more concerned with value. The worth of my words does not have to be measured by comments or followers or page views.
It is a battle for me, yes. I have declared this as my year of enough. That means that in the most mundane of days when all I do is pack lunches and go to work and cook supper and get no Likes on Facebook and only a dozen views on the blog, that I AM ENOUGH. That means that even though I think that being famous will make me better, the truth is that being present in the life I have will make me better.
This is not really a blog post about a controversial blog post.
This is a post about learning to find value in the quiet lives that we inhabit.
This is a post about learning to be loud in the small ways, among the people who care about you the most. (I count my faithful blog followers among those, people who care enough to stick with me no matter how boring and un-controversial my writing is sometimes.)
This is a post about learning to love yourself without waiting for someone else to say it.
I am still learning all of these things.
But today, if you need someone to say it, let me: You are beloved.
I am happy for you and find it encouraging for myself that you are able to concentrate on being enough, being present to your own life, and not running after controversy and numbers for their own sake or fame or whatever. I also want to congratulate you on your successes with writing and publishing that were in a recent post on which I didn’t write a comment. I hope things are starting to get warmer there and that everyone stays safe.
Love love love this Karissa, Bravo!
It’s always brave to admit the truth: that we want MORE, even when that more might mean we are sacrificing some of our integrity. Even if it might mean reducing our written thoughts to the lowest common denominators, and black and white polarities. But I do wonder how people like Matt Walsh sleep at night (aside from on a soft pillow of sweet cash). I just do not have the constitution for controversy!
Thanks, Bree, and I agree completely. I hate Matt Walsh! How does he live with himself!
Karissa, I can identify somewhat with your post about guilt. The church to which I went when I was a child and growing up as a teenager was a small country church. I never felt good enough. I always felt guilt and unworthy of anything good. The guilty feelings have followed me all my life, and the unworthiness has led me to have an under-the-rug self-esteem. I can always help others feel good about themselves, but I can’t seem to help myself. I need to learn to love myself and to believe that I am worthy of some of the good things in life. I know that I am a child of God and what I think other people think about me should not matter.
Marie, it has taken me such a long time to get past the same thoughts. I encourage you to believe that you ARE worthy, valuable, and beloved. The “not good enough” messages are lies. I think there is always a struggle to please people – I know that struggle well, but at some point you have to please yourself. That may not be a traditional Christian message, but I do believe it.
Thank you so much for this post. I love reading your blog, because I always find encouragement from it, and it gives me hope. Thank you for your honesty. As someone trying to start a blog, it’s good to be reminded that writing for joy is better than writing for reaction. God bless you!
A faithful follower
Melanie, thanks for your comments and being a follower!!
This is great stuff. Thank you!