The Posts that Never Get Written

One of the hardest things about writing a blog is actually writing a blog. Simply put, nobody’s life is that interesting.

My kids are sometimes my best source of original material.

Like someone looking at the Mona Lisa and trying to discern the meaning behind her smile, I find myself staring at my three year old Emma in the hopes she might share something both humorous and insightful with me.

I trawl through the news and through the other blogs looking for possible topics.

What are we going to do today?

Yesterday, I was going to write a snarky post about an interview I recently overheard on Christian television. It was something ridiculous and silly.

Living in secular New England, we don’t get a lot of Christian television and our household doesn’t get cable, which pretty much puts our family on par with the Flintstones. Visiting my parents this past week, they had the television tuned into a local Christian television network. For a blogger this is a content rich environment. The host of the evening show asked a silly question, which seemed to characterize everything I felt was wrong with evangelical Christianity.

I wrote a post and then I discarded it.

I’ve often found it helpful in my writing process to simply wait and think about what I’m about to say before I hit “publish”. Wait a day. . .Wait two days. . .Do I really want to say this? Is there a better way to say it? Once it’s out there, you cannot “undo it.”

One thing I’ve come to realize is that it’s always easy to “go negative.” It’s easy to be negative about other people. It’s especially easy to go negative in a blog. There is very little accountability here.

I can feel so smug and smart. Like the Pharisee who kneeled in prayer across from a tax collector in Luke 18, I tell you, “Thank God, I am not like that person.”

In the end, it doesn’t take a genius, or even a particularly good writer, to share how much someone else is screwed up. It’s always easy to mock others.

What I’ve also learned through life and personal experience is that there is cost to being negative.  Sometimes the cost doesn’t seem discernible and yet it exists. There is a cost to me, and even a cost to those closet to me. Being negative is a kind of poison to my soul. It alters my perspective towards people, circumstances and life itself.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 the Apostle Paul shares. . .

Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Taken on its face, Paul’s words seem curious and out of place in a world, where so many things seem wrong and messed up. In this world, complaining seems so much more natural. Complaining and being negative can even seem real and authentic.

Yet the question I find myself asking is whether there is something to be gained in adapting a more thankful posture?

Don’t get me wrong, this is not about being thankful for the worst parts of life, or adopting a stoic perspective, instead it’s about learning to find those slender slivers of hope and goodness, that pierce the darkness. It’s learning to hear God’s still small voice. I believe there is something to be learned and gained by focusing on God’s blessings, and on the very best, instead of the very worst of people. It’s not always easy, but I cannot help but feel this is a better way.

And so I choose to dump my negativity, and the occasional post, in a big brawny industrial sized trash can.
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2 thoughts on “The Posts that Never Get Written

  1. I also struggle with negativity in my blog sometimes. I generally leave the post as-is when I feel strongly that what I am writing about is important and deserves some negativity. While I agree that an excess of negativity could be harmful, I might ask you, why was your response to that pastor on TV negative in the first place? Maybe he (or she, but I doubt it) was saying something that is theologically poisonous. Maybe that person was encouraging bad faith or bad theology. Would there be value in giving yourself time to calm down, then coming back and writing the post with a clear head?

    • Hey Dan:
      Good to hear your voice. Hope all is well with you and that you’ve ringed out your clothes.

      First let me say, that I am not really here to comment on how others write their blogs. Each of us have to find our own direction (hopefully spirit led). I will say that Internet Monk, one of my favorite group blogs often makes feel uncomfortable because of the negativity, and yet I still read it.

      I’ve expressed great negativity on my own blog at times. For me to be negative, it does help to have a personal stake in the discussion. A good question to ask is, “Why is this important to me?” and “What are the stakes?”

      Overall, I feel that there is a huge ideological divide, even among followers of Jesus. Not sure whether there really is a solution, short of Jesus coming back, but I cannot help but feel that part of the problem, is the negativity and the shape of the dialogue.

      In this particular case (the blog post I discarded), the topic was related to a “bounded set-centered set” conversation. Perhaps after some time, I will discuss the question itself. I’ve actually been hoping to have a post to discuss set theory. I’m not Dave, so every time I try discussing it, I realize it doesn’t express what I want to say.

      Maybe part of the answer to the “negativity problem” is that I would like to be able to address these topics, without the sarcasm, or the zippy “one liners”, or getting a laugh at someone else’s expense. Talk to the issue or the other party, like I would talk to a dear brother in Christ, instead of talking down to them like an idiot cousin (not to say any of my cousins are idiots). Anyway, a lot of thoughts here. . .

      I appreciate you asking the pointed question, and maybe the final answer is I’m still working through it.

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