{balance}

There is a certain tight rope quality to being involved in social media. You want to be genuine, transparent, and real without falling into the TMI category. Those people who present a highly edited version of themselves are what gives online interactions a bad name, but so do the ones who provide the intimate details of their bowel movements.

Before I began blogging consistently, I journaled. In my daughter’s room sits a large leather trunk. Jumbled together inside are empty picture frames, rocks collected on our honeymoon and my journals. I have been journaling since I was in elementary school. Beginning with those first diaries covered in kittens, sealed with a lock and key, I realized that writing down my thoughts helped me to focus and to release the tension within me.

There were times where I felt like I would burst if I didn’t put pen to paper, pouring my heart out to God. Praying out loud or in my mind never worked as well for me as this process of journaling did. Additionally, it was so interesting to be able to look back and see how far God had brought me and the prayers He had answered.

Fast forward to January 2010. I had started blogging about a year before, solely to update family and friends in Washington to keep them connected to us. I had also written a few things for Ungrind and discovered that writing could be more than journaling and school papers for me. I began jotting down my thoughts and feelings, things God was showing me, on the computer screen instead of in my journal. At first it felt very much the same, because no one was really reading.

Then, people started commenting, online and in-person. People were paying attention. Once I realized there was an audience, things changed a little. I still enjoyed it, but I felt a check about what to share. I began walking a fine line between being genuine and over-sharing. There have been posts where I was terrified after pushing “publish” because I felt like maybe I’d stepped onto the wrong side of the line. And I discovered that instead of just writing from my heart, with abandon, I began to worry about grammar, style, and content. This is not a bad thing. I want to improve as a writer. I hope to someday make a career out of writing and speaking.

The only problem was that I spent so much time blogging and reading other’s blogs that I neglected my journaling. I was reading the Bible, Christian non-fiction and listening to sermons, but my motives weren’t always right. It was more about having something to share than about growing my relationship with God. I was teetering up there, all eyes on me, and about to fall.

Then, one night last week, I sat down with my journal and my Bible and just wrote. I didn’t worry about what words I used, or proper punctuation, or if people would think I’m smart. I didn’t hold back from fear of sharing other’s stories or what people would think of me. This was just me and God.

It felt so good. The thoughts, worries, fears, hopes and dreams that I had been bottling up inside came pouring out. I felt closer to God than I had in a long time. I wasn’t turning to Him for anything, I just turned to Him.

I realized in that moment that I had gotten off track. Blogging is good for me, it helps me feel connected to others and it makes me a better writer. But journaling, for me, is necessary because it connects me to God like nothing else does and that connection makes me a better person. In journaling there is no wire to walk, I can over-share because God already knows all.

There are numerous ways people connect to God. For you it might be music, art, nature, or service. Whatever it is, God showed me that it’s our heart that is most important. If you’re doing it as a means to an end, a pathway to personal gain, you’re going to run dry. There needs to be activities in your life that are solely done to connect with God; things that allow you to bask in His presence. You don’t need to walk away with a profound vision or word at the end, just a sense of communion with Him.

The high-wire act is not just about knowing how much to share in social media, it’s how you relate to God. Reading the latest books should not replace time in the Word. Listening to the popular sermon podcasts cannot be an excuse to neglect sitting quietly in His presence, waiting for that still small voice. Fellowship with the church body, whether online or in-person, is no substitute for fellowship with God in the privacy of our own devotions.

What things do you do to connect with God?

How do you find balance in these areas?

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15 thoughts on “{balance}

  1. Melissa, thanks for this post. I always look for balance and can’t ever seem to figure it out!! But blogging vs. time spend with God and family is always an issue that I need to stay on top of.
    Sometimes, I give up blog and twitter and fb altogether…it goes in spurts!
    Anyway, thanks again. The good thing about all this is I get to “meet” interesting, genuine people like you :-)

    • Last week I was on the verge of shutting everything down because I felt like it wasn’t worth the time and effort I was putting into it. Then I realized that I was asking more of blogging/Twitter/Facebook than I should. I was trying to replace my personal walk with God with the blogs and devotions I read online. There’s no replacement for it. And you’re right, I can’t shut it down because I have met some wonderful people online who encourage me in my walk and are the church to me. :)

  2. oh friend.

    i know exactly.what.you.mean.

    when i repurposed my blog this past june, i sat down with my husband and said what it was and what it was not. i needed some accountability because balance has always been a struggle. it’s for that reason that i don’t have twitter or facebook. at times, i feel on the “outside” but that’s okay. :)

    and i absolutely agree. no time, even fellowship with your closest friends and spouse, can subsitute communion with God. i write in my prayer journal and i draw closer to Him in worship. How precious that time is and it’s never enough!

    • There doesn’t seem to be enough time for anything, huh? I was just sitting here feeling frustrated that I don’t have more time for ____ or ____ and that _____ takes up so much of my day. Fill in the blanks because everyday it’s something different. I guess I need to start treating my time like my money, and recognizing that God is the one who provides it all and I need to do with it what He asks of me. He’ll give me enough for what I need. We need to get together again soon, Melissa, for coffee or something. :)

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  4. Good stuff. For me, I have to spend time in prayer, me and God. I have no problem opening up to Him and bearing the depths of my soul. It’s definitely easy to fall into performance mode, but He’ll keep us in balance if we let Him. Thanks, Melissa.

    • It’s hard when your job is portraying a relationship with God to others, you definitely can start focusing on it being a performance instead of a legitimate conversation. From what I’ve read on your blog, Jason, I can tell it’s genuine with you. Your heart is in the right place and your faith is transparent and honest. Thanks for always encouraging me to press in closer to God.

  5. Spending time in God’s creation makes my communion with God complete. Blogging is my way of journaling. I never had the discipline to keep a private journal. I think it goes back to when my mom read my diary. It was the last time I kept a diary. Even before that, my entries were sporatic and I wasn’t all that deep nor saved.

    Now I love my blogging. It brings me closer to God. Even the entries that don’t get posted manage to find a way to help me think through things and help me find answers in His Word.

    Great blog!

    • I’m so bad, I used to read my sister’s diary. (Sorry, Janelle). She knew though, and would write me notes in it to stop reading it. Haha! Oh, the joys of sisters. Anyways, I’m glad you mentioned spending time in God’s creation. That’s something I forget to do. When we began dating my husband would point out a beautiful sunset, breathtaking views and things in nature that I would have otherwise ignored. It was eye-opening to be called to attention, to have someone around me who gloried in God’s creation.

  6. I’ve loved seeing the way you have been developing your “voice” as a writer as your blog has become more public and less family-update oriented. I almost always get something meaningful for my own life out of what you write about. It’s nice because I know neither of us really has time for the long conversations we used to have when we were younger, before we each had our own families and responsibilities. I miss seeing you all the time, but I love that I have this little window into your world. Love you!

  7. Melissa,
    I thought this was a fabulous portrayal of how writing in your journal has helped you to stay connected to God. I agree that nothing else compares to keeping that connection. Thanks for being so heartfelt and honest.

    I wanted to let you know your blogpost, Balance, has been chosen as #JournalChat Pick of the Day for all things journaling on Twitter. I will be posting it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog Refresh with Dawn Herring in the box for JournalChat Pick of the Day posts.

    You’re welcome to follow my @JournalChat account for all things journaling.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance

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