The first blog I started was in the early 2000s. Way back then, I didn’t call it a blog and neither did anyone who read it. It was a very short list of distinguished people who read it, but it was there, a precursor to what I would do here and now.
I was imitating my older sister. She sent emails to her friends about life ponderings that she had during the day. There were religious reflections, philosophical musings, and simply ideas she had as she went about her ordinary high school life. Wanting to be like her, I started my own little email list.
While I don’t remember how many emails I sent out, I do recall one topic. Blue toilet paper. My mother purchased blue toilet paper and, for some reason, this was the thing I felt most compelled to write about. I know that I sent at least two emails about it. The first had an intriguing subject line of “Blue” and the second was titled “Still Blue.” And then, for one reason or another, I stopped sending the emails.
My next foray into the world of writing was in eighth grade. Apparently, my English teacher thought I had something to offer the world and contacted the local editor of the town newspaper. The editor agreed to let me write occasionally for the paper about virtually whatever I wished. I wrote about my sister entering the convent, the death of a classmate, summer church camps, dream jobs, my dad’s retirement, the holocaust of abortion, and my trip to Ireland and Scotland. The writing continued sporadically until my graduation.
In college, I wrote a couple of times for a few different campus publications. I was too busy writing papers to publish many articles just for the enjoyment of it. College also had the knack of tempering my perceived self-importance. I’d been told for years that I had a gift for writing, largely from family and friends who are supposed to say those kinds of things. In college, however, I received authentic criticism from my Honors and English professors.
Admittedly, it took me by surprise.
Why weren’t they commenting on my giftedness? Did I actually have a gift? Was my writing really any good? It forced me to step away from the flowery writing I had developed (due to the steady diet of novels I read) and write in a simple, analytical way. To get the grades I wanted, I had to write the way they wanted. The writing wasn’t primarily about enjoyment, but rather about conveying solid ideas in a clear and concise manner.
When I graduated from mandatory papers, I found myself in the world of teenagers. The truths about the Catholic faith that I was so eager to express were met with disdain, boredom, or even deep anger. For the past four years, I had listened with delight as professors poured forth the doctrines and dogmas of Catholicism. And I loved it. However, in my own classroom, the profound truths were yawned at, scowled over, and dismissed as brainwashing. In the desire to vent these frustrations and deal with the stress of teaching, I turned to blogging.
Very few people read the blog, initially. I didn’t want many to know about it because it was mainly for me, a way to express my experiences in a way that made them make sense to me. Writing clarified what had happened or what bothered me or what response I wish I would have been able to present in the moment.
Sometimes, the Lord has chosen to reveal how my writing has encouraged other people. A comment here and there, a few emails, a few friends who will shamelessly promote it despite my discomfort, and support from people whose opinion I respect pushes me to continue, though I don’t know what the Lord will do with it all. The gift, perhaps, is found more in the offering than in the result. In giving the Lord this gift of myself, I am striving to do what He wills, regardless of the perceived success or failure of this gift.
The desire of my heart is that He would use this little gift of self I make and do something beautiful with it despite the littleness. I want this to be a place of sincere truth and an encounter with beauty. My hope is that these words I type will reach out across the disconnectedness of the internet and cause someone to echo the words of C.S. Lewis, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”