Thursday, February 20, 2014

Christian Woman Blogger: 10 Years In

Christian woman blogger.

What comes to mind when you see that phrase?  Do you immediately think of your favorite blogger who is a woman and a Christian?  Do you read that phrase and in your head, hear it being spoken it with the contempt-laced tone that critics tend to use? Or does something else immediately come to mind?

I suppose it depends on where you're at, how you perceive that phrase.  After being a Christian woman blogger for 10 years now, I can honestly tell you the phrase means something entirely different to me today in 2014 than it did in 2004.

Back in that day, blogging was still pretty much new ground, and new blogs popped up faster than springtime weeds.  Some lasted just days, while others came along and were awesome and either faded away, or just became more awesome.  I can count on one hand how many women bloggers from that day that I read then, that I still read now.  I don't know how many of them are actually still blogging, I only know which ones came through the filter for me as I've grown over the last 10 years.

In those days, there was this sort of odd pressure (whether real or imagined, I'm still honestly not sure), this expectation that if you were blogging your thoughts about this thing or that thing, you pretty much had to know every minute detail of the thing you were blogging about, for your thoughts to have any real credibility whatsoever with your readership.  If you wanted to express your thoughts about the doctrinal position of a particular author, you had to have read every one of his or her books, studied their ministry, and pretty much memorize their bio.  If not, you can bet that someone would come along to tell you how out of line you were for daring to have a contrary opinion about this or that since you really didn't know what you were talking about.  Now while there is much advantage and it is certainly a good idea to research your subject well before taking it on publicly, back in that day of blogging it was pretty much taboo to admit "I don't know everything there is to know about this subject, but here's what I think about this particular item in question".

As result of this expectation, I began to dig and dig deep before I ever blogged about something that mattered (and by mattered I mean, posting pics of my kids or lasagna recipes was pretty much a no-brainer).  For years, I knew every name of every Christian that anyone was blogging about. I knew what denomination they belonged to, which church they went to, their city, state/province/country, which conferences they were speaking at, what their doctrinal position was on every major point, which books they'd written, what their blog address was, etc.  Basically, I was a know-it-all for bullet points on all the big names.  Not because I really wanted to be, but because there was an expectation that I needed to be.

I'm not really sure when it happened, but one day after several years of blogging I began to question what good all this information was, for me personally.  I remember reading on someone else's blog how they felt so deeply convicted that through blogging and blog reading, they knew more about what was going on in someone else's church, a church they'd never been to and never would be at, with people they didn't even know and never would meet, than they did about their own church. Or their children, and what their children were dealing with or struggling with.  One of the unwanted side affects of consuming so much information all the time, is that you eventually run out of time and run out of interest and energy to consume any more.

The more I mulled this thought over in my head and heart, the more it convicted me as well.  It was true of me.  I knew more about the inner workings of a church disciplinary action in Seattle (and the names of every single person involved and what their role in that church was, and their spouses names) than I did about my own teenage daughter and what she was struggling with at the time.  We all know that teenage girls are intensely complicated creatures on the best of days, but I had effectively cut myself off from her (and all my other kids, and most other relationships that should have taken priority) just because I didn't have the energy to listen, or even make myself available to listen.  None of it was intentional, it just sort of happened as the blogging-machine sort of rolled along.  That's when I put the brakes on it, and for a while, threw away the key.

Over the next few years I stopped reading all but 2 or 3 blogs. Three blog addresses were added to my favorites list as I deleted my RSS reader that had over 200 blogs on it. I decided to blog less, myself, as well.  Instead of writing every single day (and sometimes more than once a day) I decided to spend more time designing and building my business that would benefit and be a contribution to my family. I stepped away from online chat as well, since that was also a time-eater that certainly could have been spent with family. Overall I was determined to spend more time offline and less time investing in other people's issues.  I had my own people to invest in and they'd been neglected for far too long.  It's not easy saying that but it was true of me, at the time.

Now, when I hear or read "Christian women blogger" I think of people like Kim or Rebecca.  Ladies who consistently post material that edifies me, makes me think, makes me question, convicts me.  That may not be your cup of tea, but it's mine and I really really like it.  I know there are other women bloggers out there who are also contributing wonderful blessings, but those are the two I read, and I keep it my lady-blogger time to that minimum.

I used to have a huge readership here. Well, "huge" is relative but it wasn't uncommon to have several hundred hits (or much more, depending on what I was blogging about) a day.  Now? I probably get 10.  I don't even really know, I could go look but I don't care about that stuff anymore.  I also don't know names anymore.  I don't know who's popular, who's scandalous, who's doing what in which city or at which conference. Sure I read names on twitter or FB and read articles here and there but it stops there, for the most part.  It just doesn't benefit me to clog my brain with information that really serves no purpose in my day to day life or my spiritual life.

What I do know, is what is going on with my kids, and that my husband and I are closer now than we were for the first 10 years of marriage.  Not too long ago one of my adult daughters commented how we're closer now than we've been in a long time and she loves where our relationship is.  That blessed my heart more than anything I could ever read online.  As a result of detaching myself from blogging the way I have, I'm available to my kids to actually hear what they're saying, answer the tough questions with patience (okay most of the time, I haven't become June Cleaver just yet), and truly be invested in their lives the way I should have been all along (and thought I was, but really wasn't).  I've always believed your children are your most important mission field but I let that get away from me for a while.

While I haven't completely stuck my head in the sand (it's sort of impossible if you're online at all these days), I don't let the "stuff" be my priority. I read, click away, think "that's good to know" then take my daughter shopping for new jeans.  I still hate shopping but it's mom-daughter time and that's more important than adding my 2 blog cents to whatever's going on.

So now, 10 years into this, "Christian woman blogger" for me, means "women, sisters in the Lord, who have their priorities in order, and contribute edifying, honest, solid food for thought".  They don't have to know it all, or even pretend that they do.  They're okay with saying "I'm not sure about this, I need to look into it more" and they generally don't jump all over the scandal-wagon.

I really like that, and I really like where I am, as a Christian woman blogger, ten years after the fact. Your mileage may vary.