I knew I was not magnificent

Source: Flickr user lovebrowne

Part I. On Not Writing about Jesus

When I was a young blogger, I wrote more freely about my faith. At that time, I assumed that all of my readers were also like-minded Christians. This was a fair assumption, since I think my mom, my grandparents, and my sisters were my only readers. But over the past two years or so, I’ve more or less stopped writing about my faith and I regret that. The gospel is important to me, but you’d never get that impression by reading this blog. I write about all of the other things that are important to me–Guion, friends, family, books, dogs–but not about Jesus.

Why not?

Here’s my best guess as to why I stopped doing this. I have followed the tendency of many bloggers to whitewash my life. The one thing you learn about blogging for a few years is that you can’t express an opinion about anything without offending someone. Because of this, I have tried to avoid topics that are inherently personal and offensive, like religion and politics. While most casual readers could probably divine my political leanings (it is evident that I am not a Sarah Palin or FOX news fan), it would be trickier to actually figure out what I believe about God.

Lately, I’ve tended to keep my thoughts about God closer to my chest. I have many friends who are not Christians. I am hesitant to write about my many religiously oriented thoughts and concerns for fear of alienating people. Even I don’t like to read long-winded and highly emotional posts about religion. It’s not often enjoyable and it is often hard to relate to; faith is, by definition, such an intensely personal thing. Even more than puppies and books. It’s generally more enjoyable to read a post about someone’s kitchen makeover than it is to read a post about their internal turmoil over transubstantiation. Intensely personal things are not always blog (aka, The Entire Internet Can Read This) material.

However. All of this to say: I think there are appropriate and considerate ways to write about one’s faith on the Interwebs. I am going to try to do this with more frequency, but I think I’ll also spend some time studying good examples. Mrs. Pinckney and Betsey come to mind as people I know who blog gracefully and fluidly about the intersection between Jesus and life. I hold them up as valuable examples.

So, here’s a short attempt:

Part II. I Knew I Was Not Magnificent

No one enjoys receiving criticism. But when you don’t hear it for a while, you start to think that you’re pretty awesome. Boy, there’s nothing wrong with me! I am the best.

If we’re lucky, however, we have people in our lives who are able and willing to tell us that this is not the case. After a few months of believing that I was super, I’ve received a lot of criticism from important people in my life over the past few weeks. As these people pointed out, I am grumpy, judgmental, and anxious. I am an energetic young curmudgeon most of the time. I am fundamentally cynical about most things. I am an obsessive planner because I tend to expect worst possible outcomes and because I thrive on a high degree of responsibility.

As these people kindly pointed out, these aren’t the best personality traits. I had more or less forgotten about these unfortunate aspects of myself until I heard these reminders. To be pushed back to God, to a place of humility–it is a necessary chore. I think God speaks to us through other people sometimes. Often, through our closest friends and loved family–and sometimes, through a much-lauded hipster musician.

We were listening to Bon Iver’s new album on our drive to North Carolina this weekend. The gorgeous song “Holocene” came on and we talked briefly about the chorus.

we smoked the screen to make it what it was to be
now to know it in my memory:

… and at once I knew I was not magnificent
high above the highway aisle
(jagged vacancy, thick with ice)
I could see for miles, miles, miles…

“I knew I was not magnificent.” What a simple and perfect expression. It’s that place of humility that we all have to reach with ourselves at some point or another. Acknowledging that I am not magnificent was a surprisingly difficult thing to do. Difficult, but essential.

Love/hate with the blogosphere

I read a lot of blogs. I’m very devoted to my Google Reader. It’s very organized. I have it set up in lots of folders, which are arranged in order of how much I care about the blogs in a particular folder (for example, “Friends” are at the top and “Food blogs” are at the bottom).

I do most of my reading out of a folder I labeled Cool Lady Bloggers. These are the queens of the fashionable Internet. You know who they are: Joanna Goddard, Naomi Davis, Heather Armstrong, James Kicinski, Alice Bradley, Maggie Mason, the women at Design*Sponge, and nearly every cute wedding blog, and so forth. I love them all. I feel like we’re friends because I’ve been reading their blogs for years and looking at pictures of their babies. But today I was musing about the 300+ Cool Lady Bloggers I read and came to a few conclusions. I am going to share them because I have no self-awareness.

Reasons why I often loathe Cool Lady Bloggers:

  • Often pretending their life’s, like, perfect and stuff. We know it ain’t. We know you don’t just “whip up” cupcakes like that for every party. (The great bloggers–like most of the names I mentioned above–are the ones who actually share mishaps and trauma with grace. See Dooce; she’s the pro at this.)
  • NO ONE KNOWS the difference between “stationery” and “stationary.” NO ONE.
  • If you just keep re-posting content that someone else created, that’s not blogging. That’s just image dissemination. I will unsubscribe you so fast…
  • Heavy photo-editing of one’s life. (Just be like me, Lady Bloggers: Take terrible, noisy pictures instead!)
  • They don’t have real jobs. They get to sit on a couch and drink giant mugs of tea and read stacks of novels with their puppies and fresh babies all day. And then they go walk downtown in super-cute dresses and take pictures of themselves. And then they get up the next morning and do it all over again. OK. So maybe that’s not true and that’s just my jealousy talking, but if often appears that way. I know full-well that the mommy bloggers don’t have life that easy.
  • Everyone is usually just talking about the same stuff for one week.
  • Taste is universally shared. If you do not DROOL over letterpress “stationary” and GUSH about Anthropologie’s window displays and GASP over moody photographs of girls draped in rowboats, then you do not belong. You must leave the Blogosphere immediately, never to return; your entrance to the gates shall be barred by a pair of Zooey Deschanel doppelgangers with red lipstick and yellow dresses, fending you off with bouquets of flaming peonies.
  • Senses of humor are hard to find (again, see Dooce ‘n Friends for the considerable exception to this rule).
  • Senses of the English language are even harder to find.
  • Talking constantly about how much you addooooore vintage clothes, especially vintage dresses. Time is up. This is no longer going to make you cool. EVERYONE loves vintage clothes. Even your mom.
  • Product endorsement pieces just make my heart sad. Even though your credibility is bolstered by the fact that you are now legally required to disclose post sponsors, it is overwhelmingly weakened in my eyes that you took the deal in the first place. I know that some of the CLBs are literally supporting their families with their blogs, and so it’s understandable, but it severely compromises the respectability of one’s voice.
  • Their nail polish is never chipped.

Reasons why I la-la-la-love Cool Lady Bloggers:

  • There is a strong sense of familial loyalty amongst them. It’s a tight-knit Internet community and lots of the famous ones (like the Heather, Maggie, and Alice mentioned above) are actually friends in real life. I love that. Because the Interwebs are, like, huge, but you’d never know it if you hung out with these ladies. If you wrong one, you have WRONGED THEM ALL.
  • They give me a lot of good ideas for life improvement–Maggie Mason practically invented the Life List.
  • They give me pretty things to look at when I’m bored.
  • They share about their lives. Because, really, what’s more interesting than looking at pictures of strangers and pretending like you’re friends? (I sometimes wonder what I’d do if I saw Naomi Davis in D.C. I’d probably run up to her and ask for her autograph like a toooootal fangirl.)
  • They are predominantly dog people. I can’t actually think of any of my favorite CLBs who are cat people. This is the main reason why I love them all.

OK, so the “loathe” bullet points all just spring from envy, I know. But I had to get it out there. That’s all I have to say. Happy Friday, CLBs! Learn the difference between “your” and “you’re,” because I promise that there is one!