There are still many pages to be written on.
I love hearing stories from people who have lived off-the-grid. They exchange the complexity of the connected age for simplicity in the wilderness. There is no electricity, water sewage, or Wi-Fi, just them, their home, and all the elements. It takes a lion-heart to live a lifestyle filled with such uncertainty. In the wilderness, they are vulnerable to bears.
In a way, I have been living off the grid. I still use Wi-Fi, drink city water, and go to the store for food. Sometimes I am tempted to take survival classes and get lost in the woods forever, but I know that I am meant to be in the modern world, using nature as a retreat.
I have been off-the-grid in the sense of this blog. It has been 167 days since I last posted. Before I started Blooming Ashes I did a lot of research, looking for the best blog tips. One thing I read is that most people who start blogs stop writing in the first year. I didn’t want to be that blogger.
During my break from public posting I realized Blooming Ashes may have been a dream birthed prematurely. I am very much qualified to write, even when I don’t feel like it, but I wasn’t prepared for the conflicting feelings that come with sharing your heart and art with the world. At first Blooming Ashes was God inspired, but when I began using the analytics as a measuring stick for the impact of my words, I was crushed.
Here is a glimpse of what I was seeing:
I had depressed feelings lurking in my life. I consumed a lot of music and books and sources that I thought would pull me out of the funk. Again, I was trying to fix myself, but pulling yourself up by your bootstraps just doesn’t work.
There are three sources that move your heart. God is the primary source, people’s presence and stories are the secondary source, and the artifacts made manifest by God and people are the tertiary source.
Recently, my heart was moved by a song. I was working on a project and listening to “Time” by John Lucas. It was soothed me and I kept picking up bits of the lyrics that hit my core. The wellspring of tears started when I heard him sing “I will make my bed in His promises/For he holds true when nothing is left/there is a time to dance on sorrow and a time to kiss her cheek/there is a time for everything until we crown the risen King” After several more repeats of the song, God reminded me of his heart for my writing. He believes my voice matters. Just as John Lucas moved my heart with his words, I can move other’s hearts with the words God gives me.
Analytics are a vicious source of affirmation. When someone wanders onto my blog and reads my words, they affirm my thoughts and abilities. They may not agree with what I write, but at least they took some time to look at it. Affirmation can be all about liking, success, and performance or it can be about love, sacrifice, and purpose. The latter has a lasting impact and grows hearts, the former quickly slips and corrupts hearts.
Brennan Manning writes about heart identity in his book Abba’s Child. There are two parts to the self: the child and the impostor. The child is at the core and the impostor builds up walls through life to protect the delicate heart of the child. The child is the real self, the person God created us to be, and the impostor is the false self, the way we think or feel we should be in the world.
Depression is not in God’s will, it’s part of the impostor self.
I called the depression “the monster inside me,” but really it was a bear. A creature as fierce and cuddly as a bear needs to be responded to in a specific way:
- First, you must not ignore the bear. Denial makes you blind to the bear and may end up in you getting eaten alive. If you’re not looking at the bear, you won’t see the attack coming.
- Second, you must not fear the bear. You do not have authority over what you fear. If you are always running from the bear, you will never be able to show it care. With the fear comes other negative feelings like anger, shame, and hopelessness.
- Last, you must embrace the bear. Remember, the bear is the imposter self. Don’t run from your self. Dance with the bear, kiss the bear’s cheek.
All bears aside, this blog is helping me acknowledge, accept, and express the bear inside me. Those who read my blog keep me accountable and can bring in outside perspectives. Sometimes you just need to get outside of yourself to see more clearly. I believe the most powerful story in your life is your own, so I am hoping that my observations and experiences will help you embrace your own bears.
Just so you know, I don’t like objectivity. I would rather see a comment than see a graph of false affirmation. Thank you for reading my words. I know they are meant for a purpose much, much larger than myself.
All glory, honor, and power always goes to God because I am coming out of the wilderness, leaning on my beloved (Song of Songs 8:5).
A Detailed List of Beautiful Places with Beautiful People from Dec 2016-May 2017:
- NKY/Cincinnati: This is my city. The place where I was born and raised. Ever sense I have picked up a semi-nomadic lifestyle (really, I’m just at a college five hours from home), my fondness for my origin has only grown. You just don’t truly know how good something is until you don’t have it. From 2014-Present Cincy has been a place of rest and refreshing. It always involves lots of reading, sleeping, cooking, eating, and quality friend time.
- Kansas City for IHOPs One thing: In the book-end of 2016, I went to a gathering of people for prayer and worship. IHOP puts on a good end of the year Jesus bash. Being sardined in a huge convention center with loud noise and bright lights was even more enjoyable (or you could say bearable) with Abigail. Not to mention, she didn’t mind spending hours in the KC library and pit stops to eat noodles, peruse shops, and explore an international market in St. Louis, MO.
- Houston, TX for The World Missions Summit: Being in Murray Chi Alpha has taught me a lot about what missions really is. This past January 6,153 college students from Chi Alpha’s across the world and AG missionaries from many corners of the world gathered together to give, pray, and go.
- A Spring Break Mission PCB: I could never have imagined turning 21 during a spring break trip Panama City Beach, Florida, what used to be a college party central. It turns out the alcohol on the beach prohibition laws brought more families than wild spring breakers. God still moved, as he always does. And, of course, at midnight I drank ginger ale with some lovely ladies.
- Greenville, South Carolina for “The Southern States Communication Association Theodore Clevenger Undergraduate Honors Conference”. The name is long, but the trip was simple. I had the honor of sharing my “Christmas Letters as Eulogies” research paper with communication scholars and the privilege of hearing some of the latest research on communication in the internet age.
- Sweet and Slow Murray, KY (#MKY) It is the end of year three in my college town. One more exciting, difficult, bitter, sweet, and glorious year to go.
There are many more places and people in the near and far future…