The internet likes to debate over whether blogging is still relevant on this, the fourth day of 2023. Gurus publish listicles that claim to give me all the tips and tricks I need to follow in order to shift to “content marketing” so that I can be “successful.” There is (unfortunately) a business side to writing, and there was a time when I would have tried some of those tips and tricks. Now, close to age 40, I find the idea of marketing anything exhausting. I’ve never been good at that sort of thing, anyway. I once sold a car for fifty dollars. A whole car.
Soft piano music plays through my Google speaker as a I type. (Say hello to Carl, our FBI agent who’s always listening in). Consistently I come back to the life-rhythms expressed in that quiet, slow music. Silence and solitude. Watching the squirrels play in the trees outside. Looking up at the night sky on a clear winter night, the black velvet expanse above littered with diamond pin-pricks. Holding hands with Chris. Petting my dogs.
I wonder if content marketing is killing us.
There’s a good side to ambition. You have to have some drive in order to learn and grow. Getting a new job or a promotion, going back to school after years away, carving out time in the day to care for your body. All of these things require ambition. A desire to reach a goal and the determination to get there.
We know there’s a bad side to ambition, though. When you start cutting corners, telling “little white lies,” stepping on others as though they were ladder rungs. Caving to the craving for power and position. Operating out of ruthless entitlement.
As I listen to the piano and watch the fake flames of my electric fireplace flutter in the perennial dance of shadow and light, I know I’m saying nothing new. How many times have we heard the warnings? How many stories have we heard? How many of us have felt the sting of our hands being crushed in a sacrifice to another’s climb?
Content marketing is killing us. Such intense pressure for us to sell not only a product, but ourselves.
On this, the fourth day of 2023, I write nothing new but instead a simple reminder: you are loved. Loved no matter the lack of corner office or large bank account or internet fame or what number is stamped on the tag of your clothing. Loved no matter the ache in your heart as you grieve the losses of a decade so new but filled with so many. Loved no matter what others have done to you or said about you. Loved, right now, who and where and as you are.
You don’t have to market yourself to God. You don’t have to prove anything to God.
The hands of God have been stretched out in love where they were nailed to a tree. The nail-pierced hands of God now reach out to ever doubter and every sufferer, revealing the wounds of love. The hands of God are not the hands of wrath but hands of mercy. To be a sinner in these hands is where the healing begins.
– Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 22
Where healing begins.
Suppose today, this fourth day of 2023, is where healing begins. Where rest is found. Suppose we sit with dog at our feet and a cup of coffee at our elbows and the music winding it’s way through the air and just…breathe. In and out. In and out. No striving, no stress, no need to please, nothing to prove.
GRACE AND PEACE ALONG THE WAY,
Image Courtesy of Rūta Celma.