Sweet friends, I have something I would like to share from a transparent heart. My soul has been heavy about something I’ve been seeing take place in the blogosphere that is deeply disturbing to me as a sister of faith. My heart is breaking over this issue and I felt it was time I share from the depths of my soul about it. I have written a little bit about it before, but with a different kind of practical boldness. This time I want to share from the brokenness of my heart. This isn’t so much in line with my 31 Days of Autumn, but maybe it can be. I think it’s time we look to make a change in the blogosphere. So keeping with the Autumn theme of ‘change’, I present this to you.
The scriptures are clear that we live in a new covenant, a covenant of grace. So I feel the best way to begin this post is with that grace that covers us all. Jesus measured up on our behalf, this is the simplicity of the Gospel. Sadly, there are many in the world today (as there were in his time on Earth) that seek to complicate things through vain traditions and doctrines of men. I openly confess that I wrestle with these same things and Jesus sent word that even the elect will be deceived. I don’t think any of us are fully immune to this world we live in.
Sisters, listen carefully. We have an incredible enemy in the world that wants us to feel overwhelmed, belittled, and flat out not good enough. It’s a travesty when our own sisters of the faith perpetuate that complexity and perversion of the Gospel onto one another. They verbally battle with each other, practice passive aggressive behavior, and drop whispering seeds of doubt while backbiting one another in a rat race of competition spawned by the green eyed serpent of jealousy. Just as that serpent wanted to be like the Most High God, bloggers want to be like the ‘most high bloggers’ and it’s toxic poison that sucks the life out of our community. We shouldn’t be putting anyone on a pedestal, nor should we want to be the person on a pedestal.
God is not going to hold our shortcomings against us. Jesus took it ALL to the cross, had our sin slaughtered through his body being broken and blood spilled, buried it in the grave and left it there as we resurrected with him. We were raised with him anew and all of our shortcomings (in the eyes of God) were permanently left in the dirt. Everything is forgiven and even buried in the depth of the sea, we just fail to see ourselves and one another as God sees us; this is the fleshly world we wrestle with.
It’s not easy to describe the problem without sounding condemning, but for you to understand the solution, you first need to know the problem. One of the most difficult things about this problem is pride. We’ve all been there and some bloggers might be battling that spiritual warfare as I type this. My heart is breaking over this. Our own sisters fly out to several types of conferences to learn how to better market their blogs, be better writers, learn how to deal with vendors and on the list goes. I’m NOT against this type of education. So please don’t assume I’m anti-blog-conference. I am PRO blog conferences. But as a Christian, I think we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones (including bloggy friends) to maintain balance in the Spirit.
The marketing aspect of the world is tough business. It really is a dog-eat-dog world and it is not of His Kingdom. Yes, we live in both kingdoms, His spiritual Kingdom and the world’s kingdom. We have dual citizenship, but being a dual citizen requires wisdom and grace to remain as balanced as possible, because while we know our sin was nailed to the cross and we resurrected with Christ, we’re still fallible in our skin and bones.
I have witnessed several different blog conference attendees’ live tweets over the last several years and every time I feel the same way: discouraged. I understand they are small 140 character phrases tweeted out. Several bloggers from the conference sitting in they’re seats, in a live audience, and those phrases probably sound smart. My question is, are they wise and grace filled? What are those tweets and Facebook statuses telling us?
I’d like to focus in on one concept that came across my feed: it was the straw that broke this camel’s back.
I’m not going to give you the exact quote, because I don’t want this to be about the person who sent it out or the man who spoke it, as I am certain there was more context to it than what I read. I’m certain they didn’t mean it the way I took it. At least, I hope not. I’ll just give you my response to the short status:
“Relationships are not currency in any way, shape, or form.. to honor them you’ll treat them like the unique individuals they are and not worry about how much you can get from them in return. If anyone ever treats me like I’m the “new currency” they’ll be dishonoring my worth and showing me their ignorance regarding what a relationship really is.” ~Lisa
The opposite of my response is what the original quote seemed to be indicating. People are seen as ’the new currency’ and the speaker was teaching these bloggy sisters that they need to ‘begin measuring their return on the relationship’. Really? Is this what we’re reduced to? Currency? What they can GET out of us?
Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled for anyone who can make a buck, especially in this economy, but not while placing our sisters on the altar as a sacrifice for the cash. It’s important to know the difference between recognizing a person’s talents and how they utilize those talents, and recognizing one another’s worth and value in Christ. We’re all equal in the Body and stand on level ground at the foot of the cross. We each have different talents and skills that can be viewed equally yet different, but just because a person can’t give you the return you want doesn’t make them less valuable as a person. For as soon as we start judging people based on what we can get from them, then bloggers will fall victim to competing to get that person’s partnership, thus causing more division in the relationships.
I read bloggers’ articles that hail the power of relationships, but I rarely read exactly how they value their relationships, nurture them, and build a community to lift up people. Most of the time it’s all about the money, the numbers, the subscription count, and how much influence they can get over their readers to get them to buy products. We fall victim to pushing people aside to get to other people; walking all over one another to get to the top of the ladder.
It’s called, ‘selling out’.
Then again, there are some business bloggers out there who are building their blogs into DIY mini mags or recipe blogs specifically for starting their own business or perhaps be able to publish a cookbook someday. More power to them! These kinds of blogs are business blogs through and through. They need to run those blogs like a business.
However, we also have these relationship blogs that claim to be about you (us) and our relationships, either with family and friends and/or God. And there’s nothing wrong with putting up ads and making some money, if your blog is ready for that.
So please keep in mind that I’m not condemning success, what I am concerned about is being viewed as, and believed to be, a number rather than a person. Furthermore, I’m concerned about how this is affecting our community of faith. It’s already bad enough that so many men in the world view women as objects instead of as people. On top of all this is my concern about how our words negatively affect one another.
I know each blog is someone’s unique online space and they can write whatever they want. It’s their freedom and I would never try to diminish that freedom. I just felt it might be time that I share how some of those words affect me. Those words that many bloggers think they are free to make may not realize how it makes their readers feel, and yes they talk about it. It’s not gossip when a sister calls or Skypes another sister when they experience grief. It’s permissible to share your hearts with each other and there will be times when names are mentioned and links are sent across cyber space. Sometimes words come across as death.
People have the freedom to blog what they want and people have the freedom to confess sadness when they want, but are we (as sisters in the faith) using wisdom and grace in this endeavor? Do we forget that the reader on the other end of the screen has read along with your blog for several years, prays for you, and considers you to be their friend before you proclaim that your online friends are not ‘real friends’? Do we really stop to think about how the audience will feel when we ‘blog what we want’?
Do we think we’re better Christians when we tell everyone else they need to get off the Internet, when bloggers say you aren’t “right with God”. That you’re not ‘right with God’ because you’re investing time in your blog as a business? Are we truly encouraging one another in the faith when we create pointed fingers out of our words to nag someone into condemnation for not spending ‘enough’ time with their families? You don’t know how much time people spend with their families and while you may think you have spent too much time online, it doesn’t mean everyone else sits in the same boat that you do. Besides, what is it that is causing women bloggers to write like that? Have they forgotten their redemption was paid in full? Jesus already made us right with God.
I don’t have a homemaker’s recipe for the toxicity that is plaguing our community. Each person is unique, with their own struggles, all viewing the world through fallible eyes and hearts that yearn for perfection. I do know that we need wisdom, grace, humility, and forgiveness in different portions; suitable for each individual situation.
I realize there are times when we each feel like we need to disconnect from the Internet, from work, from television, and sometimes even from churches so we can go spend some time enjoying life with our families. I am pro family! I love nature. I work hard to get out of the house, away from blogging, and ditch technology as much as I can so I can live organically; but I don’t have to give up the things that I enjoy doing. I think what we need is a bit of balance, but swinging too the far left or right extreme isn’t healthy for us or our loved ones.
I’ve been one of those bloggers that runs to their blog’s log in page with a hot temper and a piece of my mind without thinking about how my words will be received. I’m pretty sure, if we’re all honest with ourselves, we will see that each one of us has done this before and maybe you’ve been one of those readers who received some words that hurt you. I have faith that none of us ever wish for others in our community to be hurt. I think it happens accidentally…most of the time. For whatever things I may have quickly posted, that felt like a knife wound to you, I’m truly sorry.
Women battle enough enemies in this world as it is. Maybe we can work together to build a community of support where each person is highly valued as the Children of God that they are. We could be working together to build one another up. Let me explain it like this: I would rather my ‘return on the relationship’ be the bubbling up of joy from within myself knowing I lifted others up, than for the return to merely be what they can give me. This is a philosophy I have developed in my life. A philosophy of letting others shine instead of trying to find ways to use others to make myself shine. Can’t we all shine together?
Instead of pushing away people we don’t think are worth our time, lets lift them up and put them where they can shine, be valued, and be appreciated for who they are. Lets support one another by providing an environment where our sisters can thrive in the gifts they do have.
Everyone is valuable and very much worth our investment.
Courageously participating in Life Unmasked with Joy.