The search for authenticity…

    L.L.'s recent 'why I blog' meme (click here for my answers) has been circling in the background of this last week. It was an intense, tiring week. Our first formal week of school. New routines, new people. Doctor's appointments and chores that had been much neglected due to the surgery. One of those weeks where you repeat after Dory the Fish (Finding Nemo): "just keep swimming…just keep swimming." Where you wake up early in the morning and are 'go'ing without stop till your head hits the pillow at night.
    It's on weeks like last week that I wonder why I blog. (I guess I should preface this by saying that I often set posts to autopublish on weeks I know will be crazy.) Does anybody really want to hear about my struggles and failings? Am I saying the same thing over and over? Worse still, what if I am distracting people from knowing God because I've blathered on about things that do not encourage or build up?
    On Saturday noon, I was able to get a chance to decompress for a little bit, and popped open my blog reader, cup of coffee in hand. There were three posts (one from Tonia, one from Ann, and the third from L.L.) that have been intertwining themselves in my head the whole weekend since. The three of them together highlight and inform what has been a hard look at authenticity within my own life.
    One of the greatest blessings that comes with blogging is the knowledge and encouragement that, often, someone else is going through a very similar experience. I tend to think of this as a cyber form of bearing one another's burdens. Tonia wrote about "entering into the season of hard work". After the week I had experienced, I was smiling and nodding assent to her descriptions. "How true!", I thought. However, she didn't leave it there.  She quickly moved into the loving exhortation to consider God's timing, and His rhythms. I found myself praying as I finished reading, that I would remember, as Tonia said, "the Cadence on which we can be carried." I printed out her post and stuck it where I would see it constantly the next few work-filled weeks. It's such a beautiful paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 3.
    What makes Tonia's confessionary, honest post so encouraging is also what makes writing a blog a tight-rope walk of balance. I often struggle with the division between public and private, particularly in a sense that as both artist and writer my soul often lays bare. I question how much of myself I should let show, praying all the while that I instead reflect my Creator, yet knowing that sometimes my reflection is weak and paltry at best. In her beautiful, simple way, Ann has asked the questions and answered them. It has made me consider what authenticity (in blogging and in life) could and/or should look like. I'm going to spend the balance of this week unpacking that word, a bit of musing aloud.
    The one profound struggle I face as I write here is how much of my feelings I should let show.(Emotions can be notoriously fickle, as we all know.) The last month has left me unmoored in that sense. You, lovely readers, have been so kind and thoughtful during this season that I feel it a bit of a betrayal of your trust to admit just how angry and lost I am feeling, how the darkness, inky black, is hanging around the edges. Perhaps too, I have struggled with admitting it to myself. Yet there are others, braver than I. I came to LL's post last, on her prayer/poetry blog. Dark night, indeed. Halfway through I was crying, huge, heaving sobs. She captured the essence of what I have been struggling with in her grace-filled poetic way, and it cracked open the shell that had been hardening around my troubled heart.
    In the defrauded, charlatan culture in which we live, authenticity almost seems a bad word. But I am beginning to think that there is a lot more to the word than I have previously given it credit for.


  • Rebekah

    As I’ve shared with you, I’ve not been able to know how much to share of my heart and feelings on my blog. Throwing deep parts of myself out into the www scares me just a little. I read Anne’s post, and honestly, I don’t know how to share as she does. When I do share something deeper of myself, I feel so exposed, and I second guess myself, and I have to fight the tempation to go back and delete the entry….act as if I’d never gone there. I will have to think more on this and ask the Lord what he requires of me. I don’t like to reveal a whole lot about myself, and that’s mostly because of fear. People fascinate me….from a distance. Up close and personal…..they terrify me. Did I just write that? I’m being authentic now, huh? Look what you’ve done!!! (smile)

  • Alisa

    This is just me speaking… I love authenticity… transparency… the courage to be vulnerable. Obviously, there are some things so sacred and private, especially along the paths you’ve been forced to walk recently. I’m not at all saying that you should feel like it’s expected that you share that which you’re unsure should be written. What I am saying is that I am encouraged by people who are brave enough to say that they are haunted by darkness in what are dark times, and even times we don’t expect to be dark. Honesty like that is rare in a Christian world where a confession like that leaves some people with the mistaken impression that we must not be clinging to Jesus. Joy, what you say about how you are feeling sometimes tells me you are a healthy person, a wholly human mother and woman… one that I respect and wish to emulate in so many ways. The fact that you ask these questions means that you can be trusted. It means you can be trusted with the confession that I’ve been plagued with darkness and depression; me, a person who has never lost a child, who has beautiful healthy children, an altogether wonderful life, and yet some part of me, whether physical or emotional or spiritual, is deceived into telling me otherwise. It seems a paltry thing compared to what you’ve experienced, but it is still an authenticity that is not readily welcome in a syrupy Christian world with all-too-ready answers. I don’t think this answered any questions you may have posed, but I love you and your authenticity and willingness to tackle tough issues is one reason why. ;^)

  • tami

    Thanks for floating by my blog today … and, better yet, leaving a COMMENT!!
    Your authenticity becomes a permission, of sorts, for someone else to risk being that way too!

  • Ann Voskamp (Holy Experience)

    You write beautifully… you write my heart, my struggle. My ongoing struggle.
    I hear Rebekah. I feel all those things too. But is being the naked, participating, in some very small way, with the sufferings of Christ? “Here am I, stripped back and maybe not so pretty. And yet God still loves me. Marvel, isn’t it? Worship Him with me.”
    I don’t know.. I am right there with you, working this down… what you wrote so resonated with me: “One of the greatest blessings that comes with blogging is the knowledge and encouragement that, often, someone else is going through a very similar experience.”
    Yes, sister, yes…
    (And doesn’t that Tonia write? Love, love, love that girl.)
    Joy? Humble privilege to walk this way with you…
    All’s grace,

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