In Which I Ask Questions of the Internets.

I did not want to start a blog. The idea made me uncomfortable – not only did blogging mean I had to let other people read what I had written, but it also meant I had to make some semblance of sense.  I thought I had to sell myself, a concept I hated.  I thought I had to tailor the things I wrote to an audience – some unidentified conglomeration of people, people who could reject everything I said or, perhaps more frightening, love everything I said.

I didn’t want to blog at all.

But I’ve realized, throughout this 9-month journey (and if you just tuned in to what you’re reading, no, I am not talking about the 9-month journey you’re thinking of), that blogging is not about other people.  I don’t write for the people who read my poems and thoughts.  I am stunningly blessed and humbled that people do read my thoughts and respond and say kind and amazing things about me and about what I write – but I don’t write it for them.  If I write something for someone, I give it to that person.  But blogging isn’t about me, either.  I do write because it’s part of me; it’s in my bones and my blood and my heart, and I can’t think clearly unless I see my words.  But I don’t blog to sell myself, or to affirm my thoughts, or to seek praise or understanding.  I know that I’m not always clear; I am often abstract and vague and I come up with more questions than answers.  And I know that people read what I write and come up with completely different conclusions than I intended or even thought of – and I love that.  I love that the words I write can mean something different for someone else.  That shows that they aren’t my words in the first place.  It shows that in spite of all that I am, the Lord still uses me.

I’ve come to understand that I wasn’t wary of blogging itself; I was wary of adding something meaningless to the conversation.  You see, I work in the writing center at my university, and one of the big ideas we talk about is writing as conversation.  When a student writes a research paper, she’s adding to this massive academic conversation that has been going on for centuries and will continue to exist long after her paper has decomposed.  In the same way, authors add to conversations about big questions, philosophical ideas, or fairy tale stories.  Writing is just the way we converse across the generations, across the miles, across worlds.  And the internet is part of our world, it’s part of the way we communicate.  But there is so much nothingness to the internet conversation.  Granted, there is an immense amount of thoughtfulness, creativity, and light in this part of our conversation; but there are also piles and piles of empty words to sift through.  Bloggers who buy followers, artists who put their craft second and their fan-base first, individuals who choose to sell mediocre ideas to people rather than invest in the ideas they’re passionate about.  Empty words.  And I didn’t want my words to become empty.

The coolest thing happened.  When I decided to be different, to choose to be who I am and allow God to work in whatever way He wanted, the fear dropped away and I ran out of excuses.  I stopped fearing meaninglessness.  I even got a little better at handling compliments and affirmation and encouragement.  I’m getting there.  My words still feel inadequate – and they should.  My words can never be enough to communicate the vastness of God or the beauty of autumn nights or the fluttery feeling you get in your stomach when you think about the future or the way you’re blessed.  I can’t caption Creation.

But I also can’t let my inability keep me from writing anyway.  No matter how exhausted I might be.

Because here is where my head is now: nine months ago, I didn’t want a blog.  Then I started to write and God worked in me to refocus my heart on Him.  But this semester, things are a bit more challenging.  As part of some of my classes, I am now responsible for three additional blogs, plus this personal one.  Two of the blogs are for a virtual communication class, and one is for an advocacy class.  The virtual communication blogs are very much focused on “selling” ideas, an organization, myself.  Of course, we’re told to go about it in a Christ-centered way – we’re meant to be authentic, relational, quality – all while churning out a high volume of posts, attracting followers, conforming to a short-attention-span culture.  The blog for my advocacy class is less follower-focused, but the concept is still similar: create for your audience.  And everything in me screeches to a halt in protest.  This is everything I didn’t want.

I see huge value in social media as a tool for companies and organizations.  There is definitely an opportunity to use social media to promote ideas and products.  But there is still some wall within me, something telling me that this isn’t right, that it can’t make sense to use my words as tools on one platform and then come back here and let my words be used by the Lord.

Is there a difference?  Am I thinking too much (which is, admittedly, highly probable)?  Maybe there isn’t a delineation.  I know the Lord uses everything, whether the small-c creator is aware of it or not, but I still don’t understand why it seems like it doesn’t line up.  These class blogs are all about learning to be effective online communicators, but there is theory and strategy and some veiled sort of manipulation in that.  And on this blog, I don’t plan or strategize.  I write.  I fall apart on this (metaphorical) paper, or I come back together again.  I ask questions and get lost and find pieces of myself and of God.  Isn’t that effective?  Is “effectiveness” my goal?

This is one of those posts that just has to end.  I could search for answers, but maybe I just need to let my thoughts sit.  I would love to hear yours as well.

This is truly the most un-Courtney-ish blog post I’ve ever written.  I need to write some poems or something.

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Holding Your Breath, Falling, and Flying

So I thought that perhaps it was
like approaching a tunnel
in the car:
You’re nine years old, and you know
you’re supposed to hold your breath
the whole way through.
And if you make it through,
you get a wish
and a view of the city or a mountain.
Something spectacular.

Or maybe it was like skydiving,
that last moment before hurling your body
and everything in your heart
out of that plane.
There are two seconds:
one in which you can still back out,
and the last one before you fall.
Maybe it’s like that breath in between,
when you make the decision
that you are not getting down any other way
but by falling.
I wouldn’t know.
I’ve never skydived.

I would imagine that this is the feeling
the fireflies get deep within
before taking flight.
Caught up by little hands,
trapped inside a makeshift cave,
smiling eyes peering between the cracks of fingers,
hoping to catch a glimpse of the light.
The cave disappears and the firefly crawls
to the tip of a pinky
(because maybe even fireflies cling to the surface
before leaving it)
and it opens its wings.
Then there is that whirlwind –
that momentarily frozen time
when the world holds its breath,
wondering if something comes next
or if hanging in the balance is the terminal point.
But fireflies have lights and wings
for a reason,
and the pause is for the tiny bug alone,
that infinite joy of going-to-fly
but not-yet-in-flight.
How beautiful it is,
that firefly would tell us,
to know the best is coming.

(This is my face, and my face is smiling in a big way)

I have to tell you how good our God is.  I have to tell you how much He has blessed us.  I have to tell you how magnificent He is.  But I do not have the words to do it right.  There is nothing in me that could adequately describe how perfect and amazing He is.  How beyond He is.  He is everything.  He keeps showing me how everything He is.

Sometimes, I wonder if I will explode from the weight of His grace and glory.

This is the best I can do: it is like He has created billions of little gemstones; billions of beautiful little crystals, so divinely crafted and so incredibly loved by the Creator.  And each gemstone has facets – so many facets, each delicately, purposefully carved.  God, in His unfathomable wisdom, whispered an adventure to each little gemstone.  A story, full of big things and little things and hard things and amazing things.  Always full of blessing.  He promised each and every tiny stone that it would be blessed past any earthly sort of understanding.

Our Papa would have been completely within His rights to tuck His billions of gems into a treasure chest and keep them.  The gems would be for His glory, to display His artistry and craftsmanship and beauty.  Those jewels would be His, only His.

But our Papa did not hide the gems away.  He dumped His treasure chest out, showering the universe with billions of bright, complex, staggeringly beautiful little raindrops.  His creations – His gemstones.  And He wrapped each fragile stone in a beating heart, and the heart He enveloped with a strong body, a transient home for His precious masterpieces.

Are you getting excited?  Because every time I get to this part, I get even more excited.  This is where it gets amazing.  This is where I see His grace and love.  I am smiling.  You can’t see me, but I assure you – I am beaming.

God is opening my eyes to see the gems in the hearts of His people.  These past few weeks, I have been blessed with the opportunity to pray with people, to eat meals with my friends, to share in joy and in heartache, to praise together and sit together and laugh together… God has given me people to love.  He has given me small pieces of Himself – these gems – to hold and smile at and tell stories with and love.  Me!  I get to love people!  Why would He trust me with His creations?  I barely trust people with my books, and God has given me people to love.  In all the ways.  I can’t contain my joy.  I am not a jump-from-my-seat, hands-in-the-air girl.  When I am floored by the Lord, I stand and smile.  I sit and stare.  I close my eyes and wring my hands together and sputter nonsense and whisper what feels like the most inadequate thank You.

How do I do this?  How do I praise Him the way I must?  How is anything I give enough for everything He has done?  I have tried to explain it to people.  I have tried to tell people what is going on inside me.  All I can do is smile.  I am busy, so busy.  And overwhelmed with school, and rushing from one job to the next, and it is hot out, and I don’t have enough time.  But there is something in my heart that I do not want to disappear.  Peace.  Joy.  Love.  All those Christian buzzwords… those words mean something.  Everything – they mean everything.

He has given me people.  He has let me into lives.  He has let me jump into the adventure of another person, another gem.  You know, though, what thrills me even more?  The fact that this isn’t all He has to give me.  These blessings, which have always been here, are only pieces of whatever He has yet to give me.  In this life or in the one I will one day get to spend with Him.  We get MORE LOVE.

(This is the part where, if we were together, we would just sit and smile at one another for a really long time.  And it probably wouldn’t even get awkward.)

And so this is it – this is what has been running through my head: He is so perfect in His grace and so stunning in His love and so oh-my-goodness-this-God-is-mine-and-I-am-His-His-His.  The twelve thousand thoughts that jumble my brain every day are still there – oh, are they ever – but it is like the weather in my head is a constant sunshower, and the rain that is falling is Grace.  Love falling on the quick, racing, filled-up landscape of my mind.

I am in love with this God.