If you write for God, you will reach many people and bring them joy.
If you write for people, you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world for a little while.
If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after 10 minutes, you will be so disgusted you will wish you were dead.
- Thomas Merton
I’m not silent very often.
(If you doubt, just ask Corey. He does a happy dance when I get bronchitis.)
But right now, my little brain is so overwhelmed with big ideas, the words can’t get out.
Two streams of thought have converged to create this mental flood.
First, Compassion has a team of bloggers in Guatemala this week. I follow each Compassion bloggers trip so closely, I feel like I’m spiritually hovering over the team. This trip is especially meaningful. My sister traveled to Guatemala regularly before she got married (so often that, at one point, she was suspected by the DEA of smuggling drugs), so that country already has a story for me. Plus, some of my best blogging friends are on this trip. I am bathing in their stories right now and being convicted again that truth faith cannot have a non-response, that the God I know may need to be redefined in light of the God we encounter in a shanty town, that there isn’t always a neat bow to the end of the story.
Our God is crazy. He dwells with the poor and the orphan and the alien. I don’t know why. But I see it throughout the Bible.
It bothers me. Because I dwell with the rich and the comfortable and the lazy.
I am rich and comfortable and lazy.
I say I want to follow Jesus. But the truth is, I want to follow Jesus and have a nice house in the suburbs and put my kids in Christian school and take a vacation each January to escape the cold. (Even though my house has a roof and a fireplace and running water and a stove where I make food and bake bread at will.)
I don’t want to choose.
But I feel like God forcing the decision. I’ve felt it coming for years. There’s a swell of energy approaching, like a wave in the ocean.
I want to catch this wave. I pray I’m ready when it breaks.
So I’m silent right now, listening to the water.
The second stream of thought is less global. It has to do with my family.
Summer is over. (Literally. Two weeks ago, we lived at the pool to escape the 90-degree heat and blanket-like humidity. This week, I’ve lugged out the boxes of winter clothes to find pants and sweaters for the 50-degree mornings. What is it with September, Minnesota?) It was a great three months, crazy but fun, like a roller coaster, both terrifying and exhilarating.
But the sudden advent of fall punched me in the gut, frankly. It does every year, partly because I’m not ready for winter. (Summer! Don’t leave me!) But more because it is at the beginning of each school year I realize: My children are growing up. And there is nothing I can do to slow down time.
It always makes me wonder: Am I doing a good job? Am I loving my kids the way they need to be loved? Did I take live summer 2010 to its fullest? Because I will never get it back.
For the record, I’m not talking Mommy guilt here. This isn’t a maudlin emotion. It’s about authenticity. I say I love my kids and my family and that they mean more than anything to me.
Yet, if you look at my Twitter stream, you’ll see I’m at my computer a lot. A lot.
To make matters worse, I haven’t found a way to blog or email or even play with my photos without stealing that time from one of my loved ones. I am never alone. There is always a little person who is desperate for my attention. And after they go to sleep, there is my long-suffering husband, who waits patiently each day for just a few moments of my time.
I don’t believe the answer is to chuck my computer. (Especially since I just got a new laptop. Speedy Gonzalez. I wonder if I can get one of these nifty new Intel chips installed in my brain.) That would be too easy. Life isn’t a black and white drawing. I have to work within the colorful spectrum of the real world. Moms need an outlet too, and the friendships that exist between me and my fellow bloggers and Twitterees are real and precious.
But sometimes, I need to step back and re-evaluate my stance. Am I walking the path with grace and precision? Am I watching His footsteps – and only His footsteps? Do I know where I want my story to go?
And sometimes, silence is the only way to get those answers.
If, perhaps, you're wrestling with some similar questions, I'd love to have you join the "Radical" read-a-long being hosted by the fabulous Marla Taviano. And of course, if you're interested in catching the wave of child sponsorship, the children of Guatemala would be happy to teach you to the thrill of riding with God.