Embarrassed

I’m always embarrassed when I look at my old writing. Like week-old relics from the past from the times when I was a horrible writer. Except, it was a week ago.

It’s so strange. Maybe I’m just too judgmental. I am incredibly judgmental of other people’s writing and I hardly ever like what anyone else writes. In my head I just think that I could do better. I mean, I’m reading Jane Eyre right now and I don’t think I could write better than Charlotte Bronte. She’s like, primo. But everyone else on the internet, floating around posting our opinions… I feel like none of us are very substantial writers. And maybe that’s the point.

Maybe the point is that we’re practicing. My mom is a writer. She worked for a newspaper before I blessssed her life and she quit her job to take care of me. She told me something she was told on the job – her boss said, pointing to people in the office, writing (on typewriters!) “look around. He was a business major. She was accounting. He was teaching. Don’t get a degree in writing. If you have a gift in writing, then you have a gift in writing. Just get educated about what you want to write about. That’s the real preparation.”

Maybe that’s why I get so heavy on the people who are putting their efforts into internet blogging… Because all of us are basically doing the same thing. Writing about a subject that we know more about than anyone else. Ourselves.

Our generation – we don’t generally research culture and ideology to write informed pieces on whatever. We write our heated opinions. Or more typically, in Christian circles, our experiences and thoughts on God. Not that this is wrong. I was listening to Grace, Eventually by Anne Lammott, the first Christian author in whose writings I’ve indulged, and I noticed a pit of frustration turning over in my stomach. I couldn’t figure out why – I liked her writing style before – was it her voice, listening to her on tape? No, I liked her voice… What is it?

I pondered this for a while and then I realized. What she’s writing about! She’s literally just writing about herself! Her experiences as a liberal Christian with pro-choice ideology, a ski trip with her son, the time she binge ate apple fritters and ice cream from a gas station – they’re all just about… her! Not that I would claim that she is not knowledgeable, because I’m sure she is, but for some reason she chose to simply write about herself. Curious. And a little infuriating. Does she really think that just writing all these little blurbs of her life down into a book will impact anybody? A little arrogant, honestly.

But then I remembered, oh. It did impact me. When I read her book the first time, it deeply impacted me. I was a bright eyed new believer very confused about how my liberal ideals and past life could fit in to the virginal, well-behaved culture with no cussing I was dipping my toes into. And my mentor Chris handed me Traveling Mercies. And it was nice to know that I was not alone in the struggle. That there was a women named Anne Lamott out there with a background like mine, with struggles like mine, with thoughts like mine. And I know many a liberal Atheistic convert to Christianity has found solace in the words of Anne Lamott, simply speaking of her life.

So that’s cool. Once I remembered all of this I realized that sharing our lives with each other can make us all feel a little less alone. Books can be great mentors and friends, and can speak to us if we let them. Blogs, I suppose, can do the same. And there is no shortage of experience that needs to be written about, since practically every experience can be related to – and the ones that can’t, we can most definitely learn from.

At some point, if we’re going to be serious writers, we should probably read hard books – classics, to expand our vocabulary, think new things and discover new ways of writing. I mean, seriously, if all of your vocab comes from the internet, what you write might be kind of bland. When I stepped into the before-mentioned Jane Eyre for the first time and had to look up every other word – and realized the deep, beautiful imagery she used to describe a bedroom – and how incredibly she could define wood – my writing was put to shame. It’s good to be humbled in the face of genius. And I’ve realized my writing is kind of bland, and my vocabulary is extremely limited. Eventually this will limit what I can write about and how I can speak.

And then, of course, if we’re going to write about things specific – racial issues, culture, feminism, Christianity, it will be highly important to learn the history of these very real sections of the past (and present.) I’m regularly ashamed of how little I know of American History. Just reading and learning everything you can is important.

But until then, or if you don’t have time, just write. Write to get better, write to share your experiences. If you’ve got the writing bug then probably one of your purposes on this earth is to write. It will make you feel good and hopefully impact other people. We all need someone to relate to. The internet (and honesty!) make this more possible than ever. I’m certainly embarrassed 10 minutes after I post something, but I’m gonna probably just leave it there. Who knows who needs to read the ramblings of a confused, rambling 22 year old from Michigan.

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How your smartphone usage could be limiting your relationship with God (and your whole life)

Five minutes ago I was journaling to God about the three day hiatus I had taken from reading the Word and praying. I was sorry, and ashamed, and it actually took me a while to formulate the words because I was so ashamed.

I’m usually pretty honest with God. I’m a messy messy messy piece of justified work. It aint pretty. So I was kind of shocked and disappointed with myself when I kept dancing around the issue with Daddy. I couldn’t broach the subject. I was too embarrassed. I kept almost formulating what I had done, but then I’d distract myself – unconsciously – trying to avoid the issue.

Because if a three day trek (and on-and-off for the past… three years) through making an idol out of crap isn’t bad enough, I did it with something so stupid. My stupid Smartphone.

Dumb. Walking around in this daze all the time, half aware of things and half not. I feel like my smartphone makes me think faster and more slowly at the same time. You know what I mean? And more foggy, too. Like when I finally settled down to pray, there was this thick, syrupy layer of gunk I had to remove from around my brain to finally think about anything spiritual or important.

So, yeah, that was why I was embarrassed. Because… really? If I’m gonna have an idol, couldn’t I have picked something less embarrassing? My spouse. Very common. My career. Semi-noble. Knowledge. At least that’s useful! Anything but my little stoopid plastic device.

So the last words in my journal are, “I’ve got some issues right now, Lord – I’m addicted to my iphone.” I  was about to write all the ways, numerically, my iphone was keeping me in bondage. But I decided to blog it instead so my many followers lol can read this.

  • I wake up and check my phone for 1-5 minutes. Doesn’t seem like a big deal. Then I go pee and sit with my phone and I end up on the toilet for at least a few minutes longer than I would have without my phone. Then you have to do the whole awkward, put your phone down, get toilet paper, pick your phone back up thing. Hopefully the willpower to not check your phone is there during breakfast, but probably not. Chalk up at least 1-2 minutes.3-10 minutes on a good day of wasted time on the smartphone in the first 10 minutes of your day. Guess what gets left out? Time with the Creator of the Universe.
  • Justifying everything.
    I’ve become a pro at justifying everything because of my smartphone usage. Five 10 minute videos about nutrition? Well it’s really good for me to watch these videos actually, because my body is a temple and it’s important that I know about nutrition so I can feed my husband and future kids good food so they won’t die, even if I disregard our relationship in other ways (like talking.)

    It’s okay to watch every single snapchat story when I have a lot to do, because I need to know what’s going on in other people’s lives, and it’s kind of just a normal thing that people do, is look through all their snapchat stories, and snapchats are really short so it won’t take very long. Besides, how would I keep in contact with my youth group without snapchat? It’s a ministry tool really.

    It’s okay to scroll on instagram for forever, because there is a lot of really good stuff on Instagram and I wanna see what my friends are up to and it’s fine because it is.

    Posting these videos/Instagrams/Snapcats/pictures/whatever aren’t to get attention. I want my family to know what I’m up to. Besides, I’m just being relevant with my culture. I “don’t care” if people think I’m special/pretty/cool/have a lot of friends.

    Reading 20 facebook articles in a row is probably going to make me smarter so it’s fine.

    Checking my phone consistently while in social situations isn’t a way to unhealthily escape awkwardness, it’s just a good way to fill silence which is fine because I’m not creating any long-term bad habits.

    The list goes on. Many lies mixed with little truth, my friends. Social media has made me a literal pro at consuming a bunch of useless information, making bad choices, wasting my time, and then convincing myself that it’s okay rather than really evaluating myself, with all my motives and decisions.

  • Addiction
    This goes into justifying but it’s probably okay that my intention is to look on facebook for two minutes and I end up sitting there for 45 minutes compulsively clicking on different links and different sites and I end up researching mad cow disease on a little known blog in a tiny corner of the internet, right?

    I can’t remember where I read it but you know you’ve heard that it changes your brain composition. I’m SO addicted to the comfort. Why is it so damn comforting? I don’t know. All I know is that I crave it, and I’ve been frightened by how natural it is for me to click off of sending a text message to facebook without even thinking about it. Muscle memory at this point. Yikes.

  • Lack and loss of intentionality and self-control.
    Similar to addiction but a lot of times when I click the beautiful round button at the bottom of my iphone, or the little rectangular button on the side, I have no plan for what I’m going to be doing. I’m using it as a distraction during a social situation. Or a time-filler, sitting on my couch. Or just doing it even though I have better, more important things to do. Or a de-stresser. A comforter. (Hm… A priority? A de-stresser? A Comforter? Sounds like what God should be.)

    When you pick up a book, you know what you’re getting into. It’s straightforward. Same with a bath. Or playing an instrument. There’s some variation, yeah, but there’s also a goal of some sort that you’re working towards. The problem with the internet is that it’s never ending – there is no goal – you can scroll forever on any given social media – unlimited Instagrams, practically unlimited friend-of-a-friend Facebooks, unlimited INTERNET. It goes on forever and it sucks you in and you can never find the end. If you don’t have a goal you’ll never get the reward you’re looking for!

    There’s no plan going in so I’m just click click tap tap scroll scrolling, searching for something that I’ll never find! Which is why I’m on there for 200 hours a day… No purpose, no plan, and looking for… something.

  • Satan freaking uses it to minimize your potential!
    Look at u. Look @ U! God’s given you so many skills and abilities you could grow. Things you could learn. For me, it’s art. Love it. Love the idea of finally honing my doodles and getting better at drawing. Know what gets in the way? Know why Satan loooooves this? Internet – and because it keeps us from reaching our full potential.I’m just so distracted. I’m so distracted with my phone that I have no time to talk to Daddy, no time to draw, write, or think, no time to meditate. Because I’m constantly filling empty spaces with IT. The proverbial black hole. Internet.

    I just wanna stop. I know this is Satan’s game and he loves all of us being so distracted. I’m not even going to get into embracing the moment, being fully present, cherishing real people and conversation, and disconnecting from technology. But I want those things too.

    I WANT REAL LIFE BACK! And I want my Daddy God, not electronics that just rewire my brain into mush anyway! Thanks for listening, whoever’s listening.

    EDIT: My iPhone broke 2 days after posting this entry. xo