Pages

Friday, February 08, 2008

Honesty


Warning: honest, vulnerable post ahead.

Someone I thought was a friend lists her favorite blogs... but doesn't mention mine. She lists several of our mutual friends' blogs. But not mine. I feel rejected... and then stupid for feeling rejected. It's only a stupid blog list, I say to myself. Get over it. It doesn't define your worth or determine your identity. But I can't shake it, much as I want to. I can hear the musicians warming up for a rousing chorus of "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat wo-orms."

I stumble across a website and enjoy looking around...until I notice her TTLB ranking is higher-- much higher-- than mine. Inexplicably, I feel like I am not accomplishing what I want with my own blog. And then I can't even feel happy for her.

Someone writes a blog post about something that involved me but doesn't even mention my name. I am stung by this. I spend a few hours feeling utterly superfluous.

I notice people posturing themselves to get more hits, higher rankings, more visibility, and admittedly, more popularity. I don't like when I see this-- most of all I don't like seeing it in myself. I grimace at my own reflection in the mirror. It is high school all over again. Make that junior high.

Another friend gets way more comments than I ever thought about getting. And I think that must mean she is a better writer, better friend, better person than I am. Am I the only one whose brain goes down these well-worn tracks unbidden?

Another blogger mentions me in a positive light in one of her posts and I spend the day thinking I am valuable after all. And then I wonder why I am giving anyone that kind of power-- for the positive or the negative-- to speak into my life. When there is only One voice I should be listening for.

Another friend decided to close her blog--which I love and will miss dearly--because of some changes in her life. And while I certainly understand and support her decision, I will miss her blawg and the way she inspired us all and went where some people would not dare to go-- including me. She made me feel a bit more courageous, but in the end the public scrutiny just proved to be too much in light of the changes she and her family are making in their lives. And I totally get that. But I still feel sad for the loss of her voice in the blogging world.

I read a beautifully written, thought-provoking post and feel two simultaneous reactions: 1) I am so thankful she wrote that, and 2) I am a terrible writer. I don't help people like she does. Why am I even bothering?
Guess which voice is the loudest?

I read of another person who is fasting from blogging for Lent. Good, I think. Good for her. Another writes of getting back to the simpler things in life-- of a life spent reading by firelight and pursuing creative things apart from technology. And again I say, Good for her.

I have a friend who noticed she was becoming too obsessed with her stats on her blog. In recognizing this, she put controls on herself by telling her husband to create a new password to her stats that she didn't know. Now he can check it and keep track of her growth, but she has no idea. She is reveling not in the numbers of hits, but in the impact she is making on lives. She hangs onto comments that say, "You made a difference in my life." Not on numbers. I admire her for that. How she caught herself going down the wrong path and stopped herself short.

Another person filled me in on how you can go to different sites and plug your name in and they will rank where you fall amidst all the other blogs. And all I can think of while she is telling me all this is: why? What purpose does knowing where I stack up serve? And yet later I have to literally fight off the urge to go sign up for these services. Because deep down, I want to sign up and find out that I AM NUMBER ONE. (I wouldn't be, mind you, but that is what I long to hear. Don't we all?) And then I think: Will your life be any better if you do find that out? Will that really bring you true happiness-- true joy? The answer, of course, is no. Duh!

Please understand, I am not knocking those of you who do these types of ranking things-- not at all. I just know my own limits. In theory.

Which leaves me wondering where I fit in all of this and if there are changes I need to be making along these lines. I ask myself:
Where are my priorities? Am I living them in real life or just pretending to on the blog?
Am I doing this for the right reason? (Hey, that would make a great title for a book! Ü)
Is my focus in the right place?
Am I trying to make you think things about me that I wish were true instead of what is actually true?
Do I balance being positive and encouraging with being real and ugly and extremely faulty? And in that balance do I depress you more than uplift you-- or vice versa? (Take this post, for instance...)
Most of all, why am I doing this? Why am I blogging? Is it for marketing purposes or to build relationships? Is it to have the best numbers or create the best connections?
If I discover that all I care about is getting more and more and more of you to come and visit, would I be courageous enough to just stop? Or would I shake it off and keep posting and keep checking stats? Am I listening to those gut checks in my life-- to that voice I mentioned earlier-- that One that counts?

I think that sometimes the stupid stuff-- the human insecurities-- can overtake what we do, and why. I began my blog with a handful of readers that grew over time. Back in the day, 30 hits a day was awesome. It was all I could hope for. (And it is. As one article I read stated, it is like having a classroom of people who come every day and listen to you. And that is worth something.) And then my blog grew. And grew again. And then I noticed a curious thing about me. I am never satisfied with the growth. Never do I sit back and say to myself, "There. This is exactly what I wanted." And yet, the reality is, my numbers have already surpassed what I could have dreamed of when I began.

And so, I issue this post as a challenge to not only myself, but to all of us. Yes, blogging is fun. It is community. It is a hobby. Even a passion for some of us. But to regularly process why and how and what we are doing is also necessary. To let God speak to our hearts about this whole thing and where it fits in who He has called us to be. To not get swept up in it and lose our perspective. To make this about sharing life and not competing for popularity. I don't know. Maybe it's just me who struggles with this. But somehow, I doubt it.

In the end, I think of the times I struggled with isolation and feeling alone and overwhelmed with a new baby-- and then I read a few blogs and somehow felt reconnected and renewed in the process. I think of the ladies who blog about homeschooling and family and living the calling of being a great wife and mom. And how every single time I spend some virtual time with them I come away inspired to live the calling more passionately than before. I think of the stories I have shared in, the requests I have prayed for, the scriptures I have found anew, the sage words of experience that have been a balm to my soul at times when I needed it most. And I know that blogging is not bad or wrong. It is, as I shared with another friend, a 21st century time at the well or quilting bee. In a very busy, disconnected society, we can all connect with each other, support each other, seek advice or encouragement, pray for each other.

And who among us doesn't need that?
Pin It!

40 comments:

Digging for Pearls said...

Marybeth,
These are some issues that I recently have faced as well. Mine is a slow growing blog. I'm blessed if I have 20 hits a day. But God has been reminding me of why I started the world of blogging. My desire is that my blog will be far reaching, to touch many lives for Him. Not because of me, but because of Him.

I realize that it is so easy to get caught up in the trap of checking my comments to see who appreciated what I said, or checking email to see if I am loved. God has been telling me that He needs to be my source. I need to not seek others approval that doesn't matter. It is only His that matters. It is a hard lesson at times because I want to be loved and appreciated. I want to know that I'm doing well at this writing thing. But ultimately, I only need my 'Daddy's' approval.

I'm praying for you girl! :)

carol ~ i throw like a girl said...

This post was/is so timely for me as well. Just yesterday I was feeling badly about my lack of many comments. But that takes value away from the ones who do comment, as if they don't count as much because they are only one of two comments instead of 20.

Thank you for your blog and your words - they mean a lot to me as a reader. {Hugs}

Shari said...

Hi MB, I just love you! You are so honest and open and real. I love that you are my friend, that you bake and cook even when I cannot, that you love your purse and I don't, and that you can wake up, write this stuff and be okay with it. Don't let the fact that only 2 people have commented so far get you down. Trust me, it is scary to comment to such truth. love you friend, Shari

Someone Being Me said...

I just want to say, Amen, to that post. I feel the same way. My blog is only 5 months old and I already feel like I'm becoming a slave to the sitemeters, technorati, and people's links pages. I read other people's witty, insightful, and well written posts and judge myself against them. Or the snub I feel when I leave a comment on people's pages and never once have they responded or stopped by my site. I think we could all use a little perspective. Thanks for reminding me.

Amanda McEwen said...

Marybeth,
All of your fears are the veryreason I dont have a blog. You are not alone in your struggles. Though mine have not been blog realted, I too, have let the voices and activities of others, distract me from hearing the ONLY voice that matters.
Love,
Amanda

Meredith from Merchant Ships said...

I think everyone who blogs has these moments of comparison, ugly though they may be.

Thanks for giving us some concrete ideas for avoiding the high school popularity contest.

(PS--TTLB is a crazy ranking system which places higher value on links than readers. Even then, I noticed that your blog isn't feeding Sitemeter stats to TTLB, which would automatically cut your rank.)

Joni said...

Hi Marybeth,

I've definitely had these same thoughts and then been (like you) kind of repulsed by them. ;)

What you said about never being happy with the number of readers, no matter how many you have, kind of reminds me of how us as women are never pleased with our weight. We always have at least five more pounds to go!

Ultimately, I went back to why I started blogging in the first place. Number one, I wanted a place to quickly record little family memories that I was not recording in my "way-too-far-behind" scrapbooks, and number two, I wanted to practice writing.

So, I've really tried (and for the most part succeeded for now) to put blogging in proper priority in my life. And I found that checking stats, commenting on loads of blogs, etc. really took time from my family. I also found that it took the joy right out of blogging for me and that it didn't go along with my original reasons for starting a blog in the first place.

You are a great blogger. I always love what you have to say. Keep writing, girl. Keep writing!

lexianddaltonsnanna@blogspot.com said...

My dear MaryBeth,
I love your posts and if I knew what I was doing on my blog you would be at the top of my list. I sent all my e-mail buddied to Proverbs31 so they could link to your blog. That is the best I know to do, but I still read you every day.
Don't let satan steal you joy with the things he is placing in you mind, doubt, fear, fealings of self worth. You are a great writer. I'm praying for you.
Your sister in "Christ"
"K"

kmom3 said...

Hi, there!
I linked to you from Sheep to the Right. I am so glad I did! I am new to the blogging world, and I have already found myself judging my self worth based on comments and site meter counts. I truly do want this to be all about Him. I have asked Him to let me know if I ever need to stop.
Anyways, thank you so much for being honest!
Love and Blessings,
Kimberly

Org Junkie said...

Great post, blogging is so bittersweet isn't it. The very things that hook me in, although not bad in their content, can cause me to spend way too many hours at the computer. I love everything about blogging except for the time it takes away from my family. It certainly is a balancing act and one that I still struggle with each day.

Beth said...

I felt the same way, Marybeth. Maybe you read my post about it on my blog. It was the P31 Woman entry. I got caught in all the numbers, and spent more time checking stats than actually writing anything.

I felt like God told me to turn off the stats. He and I both knew that just saying "I won't look anymore" wasn't enough. So, I completely deleted the codes so that even if I logged in, there were no stats to check.

Eventually, I was secure enough to turn them back on and see what God was doing. My numbers have grown some, but still not 30 a day. But I finally realized, although I still need reminders sometimes, that it's NOT all about the numbers...

I love your blog. I hope you stick with it, and pray for a new perspective about ways God could be using your blog that don't involve any numbers...

Valarie said...

Well said Marybeth and I really enjoy your blog - if that helps! haha

I didn't know anything about stats or TTLB's or whatever and PRAISE GOD!! Don't tell me and I'm NOT going to find out!

About a week ago a "mature" woman at my church came to me and said "I saw your blog Valarie, and I love how transparent your faith is." Let me tell you THAT was the biggest gift I'd just about ever received!! Especially coming from this particular woman! That's just a God-thang right there!!

Keep it going sister!! YOU ROCK!!

Carol said...

Marybeth,
Wow. This was an incredible post. I think this is something we all deal with. There are times that I get caught up in the numbers as well as recognition - and then God tells me to straighten up. It's all about Him. It's something I have to work on every day. Let it be all about you Lord. That's pretty much what my post was on that you just read. As great as it seems when someone you admire stops and speaks or links or whatever - it is only our walk with the Lord that is important. Thanks for sharing such a powerful post. This is why you write. To touch others for Christ. To challenge them to evaluate where they are on their spiritual walk. You, my friend, have done that. Thanks.

Rona said...

Feel your pain. I took my meter off my site. And even though I rarely even get a comment its almost like therapy for me and I enjoy it so I keep right on going. Its fun and I want to keep it that way.

Andrea said...

Marybeth,
These are all good questions. Very good.

I think we can sometimes let our blogs define us and that is certainly not good or what God planned when He made blogs and made us. :)

I know we all have felt the same things you are mentioning here....it is just our humanness wanting to be validated and *special*. We could feel threatened by a better blogger, or a better mother, or a better cooker....on and on.

I think the think to do (and what I do) is to take periodic "fasts" from the blogging to get the right perspective. (which I need to do soon) this also allows me to be more creative.

I, for one, enjoy your blog immensely. I love how you spill it all out, no holds barred. You are gracious and generous with your words.

Remember the verse: "One body, many parts"? Maybe apply that to the blogosphere. :)

blessings, friend!!

ahelms said...

Love this post Marybeth! I have been questioning and really looking inside to question my reasons for wanting write recently. I have begun to notice where my heart lies when I write and if I need to be writing at all that day. If I can't do it for Him then I don't need to be doing it. I find myself comparing myself to other women way too many times and I don't like those thoughts and feelings. His is the only voice I want to hear. This just happens to be what I was writing on today after I had read about it in my quiet time this morning. Boy is God trying to get a point across to me or what?

Valerie said...

Great post! It does make me feel guilty in the fact that I mentioned your blogging contribution in my She Speaks scholarship entry without mentioning your name, but it was only because it was for a P31 prize and I didn't want to look like I was trying for brownie points by naming a P31 speaker. I pinkie swear!

I don't get a whole lot of traffic most days and very rarely do I ever get a comment. Sometimes I start getting bogged down by that, but I know that I *am* making a difference in the lives of a few people. And I get a lot out of having a place to set down my thoughts and build my mad writin' skillz. And that's enough.

Heather said...

THANK YOU for your honest post.... I have struggled with these same issues... kind of reminds me of my high school days... YUCK!! I didn't like it then and I don't like it now!

Charlene Kidd said...

I am with some of the other girls. I do not know anything about tracking hits to my blog. I appreciate your honesty. I also struggle with the times my name is left off of things, or I feel inadequate when I get asked why I am not doing certain things others think I should be doing. I too have come to realize that the only one I need to be answering to is God. He is merciful and would never have me feel insecure. I am glad to know you as a friend.
Charlene

Sarah said...

Wow, I was just writing in my journal about the same things--not feeling like I measure up in all sorts of areas in my life. I'm just not brave enough to post it on my own blog. Thanks for being so honest and for not being afraid of being so honest. I love reading your posts for that very reason. I know I'm not alone.

Debra Zantman said...

Marybeth,
If you didnt blog, I wouldnt have all the great ideas, suggestions and writing tips you have shared. I so appreciate your blog. You are doing this for the right ( write) reasons to help others including myself.
You are so down to earth and honest and that is something that is rare these days.

Elisa @ Extravagant Grace said...

Marybeth, are you sure you're not in my head, living my life? Every single thing your wrote about, I have had to face and deal with in some form or another over the past two years of blogging. What started as a creative outlet and way to connect at the well with others while "stuck" at home nursing my twins, became the source of my identity and need for approval.

But praise the Lord, because of all the stats, comments, awards, and blogrolls, I've had to face the music on who I'm looking for approval from and why. I've had to turn to the Lord and remind myself that I have an audience of one, and He has eyes for me alone. I've had to quit blogging at times, avoid doing the blog reading thing...because I was too busy comparing comment numbers...and depressed by the stats comparison.

At this point, enough drama has transpired in my real life about rejection and approval to put the whole blog issue in perspective. I feel like I can do it unto the Lord, now. I haven't checked my stats in weeks and when I see comment numbers, I praise God for His work through me and in others. Life is coming into focus and God has used blogging for a major course in character development!

I'm glad you took the time to post this honest, humble piece. It touched my heart and gave me much encouragement. You are dearly loved and treasured! I just want to wrap my arms around your neck...but that will have to wait until May.

Love in Christ,
Elisa

Gerry said...

Your honesty is refreshing. As a grandmother who reads your blog and writes my own, I have to remind myself on a regular basis why I am doing it and who my target audience is. There are days when I know that if I am the only person to read it, then that is what God has for that particular post. Amazingly, that will be the week someone mentions how much my blog means in her life. The enemy loves to make us doubt our calling. Use God's armor to fight his darts! Write on.

Denise said...

Bless your beautiful, very precious heart. Thanks for pouring out such honesty, I appreciate that. We all feel this way from time to time, you are not alone. God loves you so much, take care.

Cindy said...

Oh, girl, you probably just blessed and reassured a bajillion people! :)

Aren't we just so girly?? I have found myself in a funk if I start to compare. What good is that?? I know that satan is up to date on what is effective these days, so it makes total sense that he would try to steal, kill, and destroy the community and blessings that come from blogging!

You honor God with your blog; you honor you family; you encourage other women; you bless people; you speak truth with grace and you draw your readers closer to the throne. So of course satan doesn't want you blogging! So.... get all up in his face, girl! :)

Love to you!!

A Stone Gatherer said...

I honestly felt like you got in my head! This post definately makes me think I need to keep things in perspective! This needs to be fun and encouraging to me and others, and if it's becoming something else, I need to reexamine my motives. Thanks for the thought provoking post!

Celly B said...

Marybeth,
As you read these comments, I pray that you recognize how your honesty has zoned in on a topic that so many of us identify with. Isn't that confirmation that you are doing this blogging thing for the right (write) reasons?
I think that the issues and questions you have listed are what we all struggle with, although you have taken the time to really reflect and analyze your motivation. Again, this points toward your doing it for the right (write) reasons.
The comparison issue is one that we all deal with in all our relationships with women, not just in the blogosphere. I think that we just have to be content with doing our best with what we have been given in God's own timing--advice that easier said than done, I know!
I love the analogy of the quilting bee to blogging. I know that I, with two little ones, feel cut off from others and have been reenergized connecting with others through blogging. We do not have the resources and advice to rely on like women in the past did with intergenerational households. I think there is a book or an e-book in here somewhere for you to write--no pressure!
Thank you for your honesty and giving us so much to chew on!

undiscovered star said...

no-one reads my blog anyway

Rachel said...

Marybeth I really saw myself in virtually all of this! I so understand what you are talking about and really struggle with so much of it too.I am really enjoying blogging but confess to real upset when I get no comments and when I see others getting more comments and doing better writing and so on and so on.
I led a quiet morning at church today and only 8 people turned up. I was devastated which is so stupid> However I have posted the talks on my blog so will wait and see but I still feel anxious about it.
When O when will we girls truly grasp hold of who we are in Jesus, that our identity as His beloved and cherished daughters is in Him. Some times it feels like one step forward three steps back.I guess it is a life long journey. That's why I so appreciate the wonderful Christian women who blog. It's good to be on the journey together.

Thank you for your honesty.By the way your blog is one of my favourites and if I knew how to do it would put a link to it from mine but I am so computer illiterate!! I will have to learn.

Blessings,

Rachel. X

Amy Wyatt said...

Marybeth,
I totally agree with Cindy. Satan is just trying to steal the blessings you give to so many of us through your blogging. You were one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place. Can't wait to see you in June so I can give you a big hug.

Bonita said...

Marybeth,I struggle too. I got in a real funk when some new kids on the blogging block started getting comments like crazy. It seemed to me that some folks just touch anything and it automatically turns to gold while others of us have to plod through all the muck. A funny thing happened though when I started feeling all inadequate because of other people's ratings. My blog did something weird that I can't seem to repair and it stopped allowing people to comment. Some can, some can't. I wonder if God had a hand in that!

For me, it comes down to trying to get others to validate my worth. If I get comments that means I'm a good writer, right? If a lot of people visit my blog each day then that means I'm well liked and popular, right? And if the reverse happens that means everything I ever thought about myself is true, right? Wrong. None of those things are true and even if they were, I have to consistently be reminded that my worth and value are tied up in God alone.

This post is perfect timing. I'm getting ready to move my blog and start fresh (not just so I can get comments- hee hee). Even as I've been praying and preparing for the blog the nagging little thoughts come as to how to increase my "numbers". Should I do give-aways? Do I need all sorts of fancy bells and whistles, most of which I don't even understand, in my sidebar? Should I visit a bunch of other people's blogs so they will visit mine? Time and again the Lord has silenced those voices and reminded me that I blog for Him, not me or anyone else. I need to do what He says to do and nothing more.

I think one thing all of us need to remember is that one reason we may not get visitors and comments is because people are just busy, especially moms. I can think of numerous blogs that I would love to visit and comment on every single day, but then I'd have to sacrifice the truly important things and relationships in my life to do it. If we think of things in that perspective it sort of changes how we feel. Most of our visitors and commentors are people we will never know and we are probably only impacting their lives for a moment, but we can impact those people God has placed in our everday lives in much more powerful ways.

I appreciate this post. It validates for me that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Also, I seem to constantly need reminders in this area. Thanks for saying what so many of us feel. Funny thing, I've always considered you to be part of the "in" crowd that I could never be part of. I would never have guessed that you struggle just like I do. That's how Satan wants it. He wants us to think we're the only one. Thanks for exposing his tactics!

Marybeth said...

Thanks guys for all these wonderful comments-- it is great!! I love how everyone is talking about this-- which is what I wanted in writing the post... I thought by being candid about my struggles it would bring to light that we all go through this. I love what Bonita said, that she thought she was the only one. I think we all think that about lots of things in life. And so, I wanted to say out loud, in the only forum I have, I struggle with this-- and if you do, well then, you are totally normal!
So, I am glad so many of you have written a comment so we can all know that most basic of human needs-- we are not alone.

twinklemom said...

Ack...My comment didn't go through and it was a bit of a long post..LOL..I think I put the comment box to sleep :) Crazy computer.

Marybeth, your post was an extremely touching and heartwarming post and the honesty that you showed speaks for everyone who has been in the same shoes as you!

Don't lose heart and don't lose sight of the prize! God hasn't forgotten you and that is the best award there!

It's easy to slip into a sense of "idolism" and weigh how many readers over how it blesses God, so fear not if you have a million readers or just 2!

You're posts are well loved and it's something that we all go through at one time or another...

I know when I see other sites, I feel so intimidated and question my own writing abilities but then I remind myself, this is for God and not for all others...like Jabez...God will bless you many times over, but lose sight at who you are and what you are doing! *Hugs*

Have faith like the fig tree,whether in good times or bad and keep trudging forward!

You can do it! I know you can!

I found your site via Extravagant Grace and I have a link to your site on my blogroll now!!

LAUREN at Faith Fuel- said...

Ooohhhh this was good. Gutsy and gut wrenchingly honest. You peeled back the layers and looked at a big issue here. You're as bold as a lion, Marybeth. Truly.

I also happened to be blogging about something related to this, and about the bondage of maintaining "an image".One problem area is that for those of us who want to write or speak,the publishing world asks us to produce "evidence" that we are respected, that our voice is heard, that our influence is growing. There's a constant tension to build a platform and then there's the desire to build a real life.


I really believe that because blogging is almost like getting a book published every time you post- and finding out whether you have readers or not- that it can be dangerous to our mental health, or it can be a powerful medium to influence the world. No one ever told us that blogging would take us down a winding road that leads to so many possible predicaments and pleasures.

Cousin Nancy said...

Yours is the only blog I've ever read so in my rankings you're always #1! And, if you were here we'd be doing something fun and relaxing and not reading blogs!!! (Insert sad, moping face here.)

Jessica said...

marybeth,
i've been thinking about this post since i first read it last night. how do i say how much it means? how much it resonates?

you have taught me a lot about writing (which is what we do when we blog, right?)....and you continue to teach me.

i will reread and reread this.

thank you for your honesty - the more honest you are, the more it resonates. the more it changes.

so thank you for taking the leap in this post.

i love you--

jess

Lisa B @ simply His said...

Thanks Marybeth for writing this. I have struggled with all of this as well. I almost went into panic attacks just thinking that Lysa or any of you Proverbs 31 women were reading my blog -- as a matter of fact, I froze for a few days wondering what I should write, and if it'd be good enough.

Bless you for sharing. I know I need to get back to focusing on what God would have me to write -- and if it just touches one person, it will be worth it. Even if everyone else thinks it's bad.

Billie said...

Thanks so much for this. I completely understand more than you know. It is very easy to feel jealous of someone else's blog success...it's so stupid isn't it?

I am constantly coming back to reminding myself why I started my blog in the 1st place. I wanted to record my feelings and life's events...and then I realized what a powerful ministry it could be. And to be a ministry, it only needs to reach 1 person.

Thanks for your honesty.

And to make you feel better, you were actually the 1st blogged I linked on mine! I found your blog because of a Crown Ministries article...I've been hooked ever since.;)

Melissa said...

How timely it is for me to read this!! I just started a blog yesterday. Already, today I'm obsessed with it! And I just did it for fun. Yours was also one of the first blogs I had read. I kept thinking about "what Marybeth's" blog looks like, when setting mine up today.

So encouraging to see your honesty in this area. Keep up the good work.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Awwwh MB....I love you to pieces. :)