Saying No to the Good

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I should have written this last Monday.

Didn’t want to.

Still don’t want to.

Enough with the teeth gritting and the foot stomping and the insisting on my own plans. Either I believe God has the best for me or I don’t. Can’t have it both ways.

For around two years now (give or take as I don’t remember exactly) I’ve maintained a posting schedule. Every Monday, every Thursday night/Friday. I’ve taken breaks here and there. Sometimes I’ve written more than the usual two entries. But always, in the back of my mind, was the routine.

This has been a very good thing. Much as I need to write, I’ll let other tasks and priorities push the time at the keyboard to the bottom of the list. Having a self-imposed schedule has helped me to remember, or maybe to learn, that the words matter. What I have to say matters. I have been given this ability for a reason and to let it go unused is like slapping God’s face. I’m not being dramatic here. I firmly believe that each of us was created with passion and purpose. Our talents and drives are no accident.

I love the bloggers with whom I’ve had the privilege of interacting. The internet can be a nasty place, the cloak of anonymity moving some to unleash the venom and the vitriol. Not so with the men and women whose words have encouraged, challenged, entertained and convicted me. Across the miles we form a network of genuine care and support.

I’m honored that you, dear reader, take the time to come here and read these words of mine. I appreciate your comments. I like that we’ve kept it civil all these years, even when we disagree. I like knowing your thoughts.

Now the thing that I don’t want to write.

I have this book I’m working on. I don’t talk about it much, not even with my husband. It may never be published. Nobody else may ever read it. The completion of the project could be nothing more than an exercise in obedience. No, God hasn’t given me some extra-Biblical revelation. (Smack me upside the head and rightly call me a heretic if I ever claim that). He hasn’t appeared in a vision and commanded me to write. Nevertheless, there’s a message in my mind, one that I cannot shake.

And so, my friend, I have to step away from here.

Oh, I’ll still post. I’m not giving up Five Minute Friday anytime soon. Count on that. There will be other times I won’t be able to resist sharing and you’ll see me pop up in your feed. I simply can’t promise any regularity in this particular season and I don’t know how long that will last.

We all know that there are only so many hours in the day. I have a job and a marriage and ministry commitments and family and friends and just the stuff of life, like laundry and bathing the dogs. I’ve got a limited supply of health and energy with which to accomplish those tasks and pour into those relationships. So, for now, I have to say “no” to the good that is this blog. I have to let myself focus on this book.

Lack of new content is the kiss of death in the blogging world. I know that. My stats are going to drop off. I’m going to lose subscribers. Ninety-nine percent of me hates that reality. I’m going on eight years here. I don’t want to have to rebuild, small though my reach may be.

But the one percent, the tiny sliver of me that knows that obedience is better than clicks and sometimes holy pruning hurts, realizes that it’s a price worth paying. I want to be able to say with confidence that I did as the Lord asked of me to the best of my abilities.

So, Gentle Reader, I’ll be seeing you.

Just not as often as I’d like.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: First

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

Linking up with the lovely people over at Kate’s place. To begin the year, we write about: first.

Go.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Cliche, I know. True nonetheless.

I’ve spent the first week of this new year coughing, sniffling and hanging out with the nebulizer. Inhaled steroids taste so good. The shaking hands afterward? Total bonus. The raspy, congested, dulcet tones of my voice? Eat your heart out, Lauren Bacall.

And then there’s the fact that this is taking place in January, the month I loathe above all others.

I don’t know exactly when I began to hate the first month of the year. Certainly by my late teens. Post-holiday malaise maybe. Perhaps a touch of the winter blues. January is cold and drab. Nothing happens. The beautiful white snow freezes and melts and gets stomped on until it morphs into grey slush. All I want to do is glare at the world.

Mighty hard to not give in to the temptation.

I kick myself, only eight days into this new year, for choosing the word “attitude.” Don’t normally do the one word thing. Tried it in the past and promptly forgot whatever it was I had chosen. This, I can’t forget. This, I can’t ignore. This, one of those moments when the Holy Spirit stands before me, arms crossed, refusing to budge.

I need an attitude adjustment.

Pessimism is easy. I’m sick and the world sucks and just leave me alone.

Choosing something else, choosing to see what’s good and light and happy in each day…not so easy.

It’s the first choice I have to make, the second my eyes pop open.

When they’re not crusted over by goop, that is.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

There’s More to Kim Kardashian

Untitled design

{ image source }

Gentle Reader,

Theology is everywhere.

Yesterday I read this article. It resonated deeply. Women find ourselves haunted by experiences and expectations that simply refuse to fade. We are pushed and pressured and judged. By men. By ourselves. By each other. By that amorphous thing called “society.”

Got me thinking about Kim Kardashian-West.

Yes. I’m into pop culture.

While I don’t watch reality television and I don’t subscribe to or purchase “gossip rags,” I do keep abreast of things through the internet. Largely through Facebook. Often the things I read are eye roll inducing, because who decides that so-and-so wearing a dress by this-or-that designer is a “trending news item” in a world where children go hungry? But I’m a curious person. I like to know things. I like to try and understand the world around me.

And sometimes I’m just a sucker for click-bait.

Such was the case when I read a “story” about Kim Kardashian-West wearing her hair in two French braids at Christmas party – so noteworthy. There was a link within the brief piece for Kardashian-West’s website. I clicked on it. A few seconds of scrolling left me shaking my head. People have to pay to read what she writes and see the photos she posts, which amounts to nothing particularly substantial from what I was able to gather.

Makes me sad.

I’m not jumping on the Kim hate train. I know next to nothing about her. I’ve never met the woman. I’ve never watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians (and don’t plan on doing so). There’s every chance that she’s an intelligent, loving person.

Hence the sadness.

That Kim Kardashian-West has made a career out of parading her body for all the world to see says a lot about how she views life and herself. Of course she’s not the only woman to have done this and she certainly won’t be the last, but she is without doubt among the most successful. How exhausting it must be. To get the pose just right with the makeup just right with the right amount of cleavage. To know that the world isn’t paying attention to you because of anything you’ve said or done. That they just want an eyeful.

No matter how shallow or vain a person is (or appears to be), that sort of adulation would ring very hollow after awhile. What things must such a woman tell herself in order to keep on with it? What compromises must she make? What things must she give up?

Yes, Kardashian-West is an adult who makes her own choices. Somewhere along the way she figured out that she could get applause for her body and went with it. Maybe that was the easy route. Maybe it wasn’t. How did she get there? What kind of people must she have been surrounded by in her formative years? What kind of parents support their daughter flaunting herself for fame?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nothing is wrong with fashion. Nothing is wrong with makeup. Nothing is wrong with a woman wanting to be beautiful and taking care in how she presents herself. I’ll even go a step further and say that our desire for beauty, in ourselves and in our environments, is part of how we reflect the image of the God who made sunsets and waterfalls and flowers and haunting music.

But when we will learn that beauty is so much more than the surface?

Kim Kardashian-West has beliefs and opinions and dreams and interests. She has talents beyond posing seductively. To think that she may never have been allowed the freedom to explore those things, or that she may have come to the conclusion that other aspirations are secondary, is unsettling. I wonder what her life is truly like, beyond the designer clothes and the vacations. (What exactly she is taking a vacation from remains a mystery). I wonder why she married a man who essentially sees himself as the fourth member of the Trinity. I wonder what she thinks when she looks at herself in the mirror, awakened in the dead of night, stripped of all masks and artifice.

There’s more to Kim Kardashian-West. There’s more than the nude magazine spreads and the selfies. There’s more than the shopping sprees. There’s more than eyelash curlers and pursed lips. I hope that there’s at least one person in her life who will tell her these things. Someone who wants to know what she thinks of the current crop of presidential candidates. Someone who invites her to read a book and discuss it.

Ladies, as we step into this new year, let us remember that there is more. Enjoy the new lipstick. Relish putting outfits together. Walk confidently in those high-heels. At the same time, nourish your inner beauty, the stuff that lasts after the hair goes grey and the lines emerge and the skin sags (because that’s all going to happen, no matter what you do). Read the books and watch the news and take a class. Try new things. Learn. Speak.

Gents, give us ladies the space to be who we are in completeness. Don’t pressure us, however subtly, into pretending to have all the sense of empty-headed dolls. You needn’t be threatened by our accomplishments or wit or smarts. Our abilities don’t diminish yours. In fact, you will find that the man who supports and encourages the women in his life to be their best, God-designed and -gifted selves will have fiercely loyal wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and coworkers in them.

There is more to us than just a pretty face.

My journey to faith. (15)