Before you begin rolling out pie dough or mashing potatoes or watching the Macy’s Day Parade, I wanted to share my thoughts with you about this blog and the community that has grown from it. Pour a cup of coffee and sit down with me for a spell, won’t you?
It all started the other day on Instagram when Jen from Illumination Learning posted this:
I felt like she snuck inside my head and pulled those thoughts out. This is something that, I think, every blogger who’s been around for awhile has thought about. When is it enough? Is it ever? Is it worth the sacrifice? Can’t I just blog without social media….puhlease??
This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time, my internet presence entirely, not just social media. Sometimes I just want to be that girl sitting at her desk with a pen in hand and writing for herself. There’s no pressure that way, it’s just pure and raw and honest and I’m not thinking about who might be offended or disagree or want to argue about what I think. It’s also a major part of the reason I don’t post as much as I used to, I’m just not sure what I have to offer anymore. Speaking the truth can be exhausting and you reach a point where you just need to know that it’s worth it.
The Orthodox blogosphere is quite different from the secular one. Our audience is significantly smaller and our lives basically continuously revolve around the church calendar. We celebrate the same feasts every year on the exact same day and I’ve written about it for almost nine years. And while, in real life that familiarity is beautiful and safe and one of the things I love most about our Faith but online, on the same blog, it can begin to feel a bit like Ground Hog Day.
When I started this blog there was only a small handful of Orthodox bloggers and now there are dozens. What do I have to say that either I haven’t already said a dozen times or isn’t already being said by someone else, someone not yet worn down by years of blogging? Besides, blogs aren’t what they used to be. Years ago posts would have hundreds of comments but nowadays you’re lucky if it gets a dozen. People are too busy “liking” or commenting on those blasted social media accounts instead which makes it feel kind of lonely here. I miss the good ole days.
So the question becomes, at what point do I just stop? When do I get to slow down and live more simply? How much information online about my children and family life is too much? Is it really still worth all the time I have to invest? Time that takes away from other parts of my life? While I’ve always been very careful never to take time away from my family, I can’t say it hasn’t taken time away from my house responsibilities, I’ve let the dishes go unwashed or laundry unfolded more than once for sure. Or just that extra slice of time that I could’ve just sat and been still. Instead, I respond to emails or take photos of the next book I want to share or dig up that recipe I used that was really good that I know you all would love, or organize another group, swap, event. I tell DH all the time that there’s a part of me that just wants to fall off the map altogether.
Sometimes, I just feel like I’ve said everything I could say, shared everything I could share and there’s nothing left. The well has run dry.
This scenario plays itself out over and over again.
But then something like this will happen.
I’ll get an email from someone on the complete other side of the world that rocks me to my very core. Asking me if I know of an Orthodox Church where they live in the Middle East because they want to become stronger in their Faith and aren’t sure where to turn. Or sending their thanks for a book recommendation on a subject they’ve long struggled with and were unsure how to fight that particular passion and are now fighting the good fight or for a saint I posted about that they had never heard of. Or about a post I wrote so long ago I can barely remember it. They tell me they’re now praying to St. Panteleimon while trying to conceive or St. Blaise for issues with their throats or that St. Phanourios is now one of their very favorite saints. Their words will have me so choked up, so humbled, so unbelievably grateful for our little community and the work that this blog continues to do long after my fingers leave the keys, that I know I have to keep going. I have to keep offering my widow’s mite to Christ. If for no other reason, it’s really the only thing I really do for Him. Even though, in my mind what I do is so insignificant, I have to have faith in the grace entrenched in what’s being shared, not so much in who is sharing it. That book by Elder Ephraim or quote by St. Nektarios. That scripture verse I simply found beautiful but someone else found the answer to their prayer in. It doesn’t matter at all that I shared it what matters is that the person who needed it in that moment found it.
This blog is no longer just a blog, it hasn’t been for a long time. We’re a community, a spiritual family, gathering together in a techy 21st century way that may not be nearly as wonderful as gathering in person and hugging each other tightly and setting our coffee cups down on the same table, but it’s wonderful all the same. We’re gathering together from wherever we may be in our day, from wherever we are in the world, to pray for one another, to share our triumphs and mishaps, to just check in to see what’s going on with a friend. Women who otherwise probably never would have met. I am so thankful for this community, thankful for each and every one of you and the countless messages you’ve sent me over the years, whether to just say hello, offer a word of encouragement, or to pour your heart out. I know how busy life is and appreciate that you took the time to send your thoughts my way. You cannot begin to understand how much your words mean to me, I hold them closely to my heart, I want you to know that. I also want you to know that I write each and every name down and pray for you as often as I can because that makes me feel close to you and people like you are who I want to be surrounded by. So, please keep your stories coming, your words are like a balm to us weary Orthodox mommy bloggers.
And so whenever I start to think that it might be time for me to take a bow, I remind myself that this is not about me and what I have to share, it’s about Christ and what He wants to share. The volumes and volumes of writings of the saints that I am fortunate enough to have access to and even more fortunate enough to have a platform to share them on.
I am not here to inspire you, we are here to inspire each other and that’s what makes our community so unique and amazing! I love that we have this space to encourage and support each other, especially in a culture where women constantly bicker and gossip and compete and tear each other down. There’s no #girlpower here. We know that every good and perfect thing is from above and we work together to build each other and our homes and families up in His name, through His power.
Today I am grateful for you, my sisters in Christ. I am giving thanks for this spiritual family of ours today and every day. May you all have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.