Thoughts on why I write have been bouncing around my head for the past few weeks. I’ve felt a renewed sense of creativity, and within that, a call to write more. And as I’ve jumped in and run with the inspiration, I’ve been reflecting on why I decided to start writing this blog in the first place.
(I’m also grateful that after the past week, I heard from many of you who read this, and you told me that my writing matters to you, too. That meant more to me that you may ever know.)
I write because I believe it’s part of my vocation. I’m not sure yet what that means. I’ve never seen myself as A Writer – like my sister, who is finishing her first novel and has dedicated years of her life to her craft, to her degree in writing, to her commitment that This Is What She’s Meant To Do. I’m in awe of that kind of writing, but it’s not my calling. Mine is somehow woven into my other calls – to theology, to motherhood, to marriage. Though it’s not yet clear to me how writing will become a thread that links them or a passion that spurs me on, I have a nagging sense that I have to nurture my writing to see where it leads.
I write because many of the things I care deeply about rarely receive the attention I believe they deserve. Theology? Hardly flashy, rarely popular. Faith and spirituality? Trendy catch phrases, but truly counter-cultural lifestyles. Family life? Given lots of lip service and smiling photos, but often glossed over in its daily challenges and shadow sides. I want there to be more places to explore these questions, bring new dialogues to life. I like to pull together unusual conversation partners – ministry, academia, current events, parenting – and see what insights emerge. That is part of why I like the blog format: it’s interactive, it’s timely, and it gives me just enough structure to pull together pieces from the various corners of my life and be surprised by the interactions.
I write because it helps me to make sense of my world. The journey into motherhood has been a transformation that at times called forth every last reserve of strength, patience, wisdom and understanding that I could muster. Parenting alternately inspires, confuses, frustrates, and amazes me. The whirlwind of day-in, day-out can whisk by so quickly that I fail to reflect on what’s happening, what’s changing. So when I make time to write, my world makes more sense. I am centered, calmer. By giving the gift of time and space to my writing, I have more energy, direction, patience and love to give to those around me. A lovely paradox of self-care.
I write because I believe words are important. I was raised in a family that loved reading, that valued the written text, that championed educated opinions. So when I joke that perhaps my real calling in life is to teach people correct punctuation, I’m only half kidding. I believe that writing well is a skill that should be taught, and a value that must be staunchly defended. I worry about the long-term effects of the texting age, the Twitterized reduction of communication to 140 characters or less. All of us need to hone the ability to write clearly, persuasively and even elegantly.
In particular here, I point a finger at my own (perhaps? future?) profession: theologians. All too often, academics have become so insulated, so specialized, that they write complicated, esoteric prose merely to compete with each other. This is why I love practical theology as a healthy alternative, because it is grounded in the everyday realities of Christian practice and seeks to communicate clearly to people outside academia’s ivory towers what matters about the life of faith, lived today. If I want to become a practical theologian – and as of my current vocational discernment, I think I may – then I need to know how to write for a wide audience about theology, faith, and the Christian life.
I write because I find God in words. I’ve never been good at journaling regularly, and my dedication to disciplines of prayer waxes and wanes. But I have always been able to encounter God in words: in Scripture, in poetry, in other people’s wise thoughts. One day I worked up the courage to try my own hand and see if the Spirit could be found within the words I might let loose. I was surprised to find that it could. And these moments of encounter, of presence, of humility are the glimpses of grace I write about.
Thank you for coming here to read them. You inspire me, too.