Let me just start out by pointing out the obvious: blogging hasn't really been my thing lately. I have spent a lot of time thinking about my blog and although I really do love it, a number of things have made me question whether this is something I want to continue to have be a part of my life or not.
I initially started my blog to encourage other women. To point them to Jesus and build community, two things I feel God has called us to do. Somewhere along the way, I lost those things. Although I was under the impression that I was pointing people to Jesus and building community, a number of things have happened over the last year that have shown me that maybe I was fooling myself. It's easy to be "community" behind a keyboard, but man was I shocked about the real hearts behind some of those keyboards. Hearts I felt were not consistent with the words on their blogs. Hearts that hurt me and made me wonder "is this real?" Hearts that themselves are hurting.
Don't get me wrong, I have met some WONDERFUL, lifelong friends through blogging but others have left me with this icky feeling that maybe blogging is just allowing us to hide. To not venture out and face our demons. To hide behind our staged photos and pretty words instead of saying "I'm hurting." Well, friends. I'm hurting.
These last 6 months have been a really big challenge for me. There have been lots of changes, many heartaches, and many tears. Ministry is hard. Graduate school is hard. Marriage is hard. And blogging all of a sudden became hard for me. It became a source of annoyance. That's not what it's supposed to be, so I stopped. Instead, I started to practice self care and to reach out to those friends who would love me well in the middle of it. Some of those were friends I have met through blogging, and some where not. But I needed that for my heart.
I don't hate blogging or bloggers, but I think this community is lost. We call ourselves "lifestyle bloggers" or "food bloggers" but often get so caught up in having pinnable images or branded social media presences that we forget to be real people. We forget that other women read our blogs and instead of leaving encouraged, leave feeling less than because their house isn't all white and their husbands don't make them breakfast in bed on a tray with fresh flowers and they don't have 15,000 followers on instagram. I don't think any of those things themselves are necessarily bad, but it has left me craving authenticity.
I'm going to make a vow to all of you to be authentic. Obviously, I will continue to have boundaries about when and what I share, but I want this to be a safe space. Not a space where you exit your browser and feel that icky feeling I sometimes feel. In the meantime, I'll be getting back to the things I love. Reading my bible, running/cycling, and loving others well.
If you need to set boundaries for yourself and get rid of that "icky" feeling, here are some things that have worked well for me:
1. Seek Jesus first. I'm not always great at this, but this world is going to hurt and Jesus is our lifeline in that.
2. Practice self-care. For me that's running, reading a good book, or having a night alone with my husband. It's leaving my work at the office for the weekend and being present in my life.
3. Cleanse your social media. I used to think certain accounts gave me "inspiration" because their homes were beautifully decorated and their kids super cute and put together, but those accounts hurt my heart. They made me envious. It's nothing personal against those people, but you have to set boundaries for yourself.
4. Tell others you're not OK. A good blogging friend knew I was struggling with something in my life and she encouraged me to tell my friends that, even though they were the ones I was struggling with. She encouraged me to set boundaries and tell people, I love you and I'm happy for you, but this hurts for me. It was wonderful advice.
5. Let yourself be taken care of and take a step back. Stop trying to carry the world on your shoulders. Whether that's having a consistent blogging schedule, always trying to carry everyone else's burdens, or not allowing yourself to feel hurt when hurtful things happen, take a break and let others help you. Seek therapy if needed. It's OK to not be OK all the time. We're human.
To the friends reading this post, thank you. Thank you for coming back time and time again despite my failure to follow all the right "blogging rules." I appreciate you. Let us love each other well and with honest hearts.