Monday, July 31, 2006

Reflections on Fellowship, Answered Prayers, and Blogging

My three best friends moved out of state between 1999 and 2000, when I was in the midst of high school. My family changed churches a few times between middle school and high school. All of a sudden I found myself without many close friends nearby. Throughout the remainder of my high school years, on into my college time, my continual prayer request was that God would grant me like-minded friends. I searched for ways to meet others through e-mail or forums, to no avail. I see now God's wisdom in witholding me from my heart's desire, as my idea of like-minded friends was very narrow and exclusive at the time. I had to first learn to love and appreciate my fellow Christians, even if they didn't have exactly the same standards as myself.

Towards the end of college I discovered a home school forum (Generation Joshua) and a Biblical Womanhood Forum, both of which I participated on to some extent for a number of months. I did meet two good penpals through the latter forum, but I also knew it was time to move on from both of those forums. Last spring I discovered blogging (beginning my own blog in the fall) and Homeschool Alumni.

All of a sudden God abundantly answered my prayers for more friends. I eventually withdrew from the HA forums, as they were too time-consuming, but I still have kept in contact with some of my HA friends, and I have several penpals that I write. Blogging has opened up an even bigger door to meet like-minded people, and I have been so blessed with the people God has sent my way. I have yet to meet in person anyone that I've met online, but I hope to someday! My blogging friends, especially, have challenged my viewpoints and encouraged me in my daily Christian walk.

I've met many people online, not just those that are cookie cutters of myself, who have been a blessing to me. And along the way God has been bringing people into my "real life" who have also been an answer to my prayers for fellowship. God doesn't always answer prayers exactly when or how I ask them, but He does answer them! . . often far better than I could ever dream. I asked Him for a different church, and instead He gave me a love for the church of which I am a part. I asked Him for cookie cutter replicas of myself nearby, and instead He gave me Christian friends that don't necessarily have the exact same ideals, but who are, nevertheless, a wonderful blessing in fellowship! I asked Him for children of my own, and for now He has given me a whole nursery of children to cradle. I asked Him for a few penpals, and I have an overabundance of them!

Isn't it easy to abuse the blessings of God, though? Sometimes blogging distracts me from cherishing the little things of everyday life. It is easy to get caught up in writing my next post, and since I'm a perfectionist, that can be a time-consuming process. It's hard not to be consumed in reading each additional post of my blog friends, and making sure to leave a meaningful comment. Meaningful blogging conversations are wonderful! But they shouldn't become my life, and often blogging time is also used up doing unmeaningful things, like struggling to upload pictures or reading through miscellaneous posts.

I appreciated Sherrin's recent reflections on the benefits of blogging, and I whole-heartedly agreed with her. Jessica's quotes on silence were equally good, and a good reminder in light of blogging. Sometimes blogging is taken up with prattle, at the expense of other pursuits. I am the first person to encourage enjoying life and living it joyfully, and I love to post rambles on occasion. But that shouldn't consume my blog life! This summer I haven't been spending as much time on blogger as before, due largely to my constantly-changing schedule the past few months, but it still has consumed much more of my time than it should.

I'm not withdrawing from blogging. I feel clear that God is not desiring this of me at this time; in fact, when I've considered completely withdrawing, I have not felt a peace about it. But I also realize that blogging has to take a backseat at times. I also realize that blogging will probably not be a permanent part of my life. I cannot imagine managing to continue blogging after I am married with children, should this be in my future. I admire the mothers who balance blogging, but I don't think I would be able to keep things in balance as well as they do. Just as motherhood is a season, I have a feeling that blogging is also a season in my life. I don't know when this season will end, but I am enjoying it while it is still upon me, and praying that God will grant me moderation in this area.

With several new responsibilities this fall, blogging will have to take an even farther backseat. I may have to cut down on the number of blogs I read, and there may be longer periods when I don't post. But I'll still be here :), until I sense that this season of blogging has passed. For now, I have a number of other things I hope to accomplish today, and the rest of this week is much the same. With a trip to Kentucky next week and school beginning the following week, I have a number of projects I want to finish before the summer is out. I have people to meet and things to do, in addition to and often more important than my online time. But I'll still see you around, and cherish my time with my blogging friends. And I hope to get a few of my many, many drafts completed in the next week. We shall see.


Jessica said...

Good post. And I can entirely relate to the first part where you were talking about not having many/any close friends, was the same for me during much of my later high school years...and even now, though I have a best friend, she lives in Minnesota! I'm glad to hear that the Lord, like He always does, is answering your prayers for fellowship...even if it's not in the way you had wanted, His ways and plans are always best!

And that's completely understandable about blogging taking "a back seat" for you now...but I'll enjoy your posts whenever you get around to posting them!

Becky Miller said...

I do hope you're able to continue blogging as you marry and have children...I would enjoy reading your thoughts in that new stage of life! I'm sure your husband (whomever he is to be!) will be able to guide you in making that decision and in your time online.

One of my husband's stated goals for me in my time at home is to continue blogging, because he has seen the influence I've had in encouraging and interacting with other women through my blog.

Becky Miller said...

OH, and thank you so much for the wonderful quote from Stepping Heavenward! It was very encouraging to me.

Susan said...

I'm certainly not closed to the idea of continuing blogging as a wife and mother, I just realize that it may not be my calling at that time. Of course, that new season is nowhere in sight at the moment ;). It will depend on my (hypothetical) husband's feelings on the matter. Blogging can be a wonderful ministry, and I am certainly glad you are continuing :). I know I have been ministered to (and been told that I also minister) through blogging.

I am glad that the Stepping Heavenward quote encouraged you. If you haven't read the book before, you really should! I think you would find it a great encouragement.

Lydia said...

Yay, Susan's back to blogging!
I'm glad you plan to continue at this stage in your life. I have had similar thoughts on blogging about not letting it consume my time and to use it properly. I understand about not posting as much. I post much less than I read which may be a not-too-good thing since reading can take up as much time as posting.

I have enjoyed this new series and I greatly appreciated your contribution. You will have to stop by to read Natalie's latest Biblical study on the unmarried woman's role.

Hope your remaining summer plans go well for you! I look forward to pictures of the wedding.

Keep up the encouraging blogging.
~Lydia :)

Anna Naomi said...

It is amazing how God answers prayers! When I was 12, I really wanted friends, but was mostly left out of the "click" at the church we attended. I prayed and praye for friends! Then, we started a homechurch, and I found a wonderful kindred spirit in a girl I'd kinda known for a long time, yet really got to know after doing home church with their family. Then, other families started coming, and I found a few other close friends!

I, on a whim, started a blog as well, and have been blown away with the number of like-minded friends that I've found in other states!

Our homechurch has since dissolved because of the far distances (we were driving up to an hour and 45 minutes each week for church) and lack of commitment. So, although I don't see my friends as much any more, I am very blessed to be able to write and email them. God has shown me that I need to rely on Him more through all this though, and He is faithful!

I enjoyed your post!

Sherrin said...

I have theology listed as one of my interests in my blogger profile. One day I clicked on it to see who else had an interest in it. They were all men! I was suprised about this! My church is into encouraging women to study theology, which is good.

I think the point about husbands needing their wives to speak good theology is an important one, and of course all the other people around a woman need her to speak truth as well!

I also identify with zan about theology becoming a stumbling block at times. We have to be willing to love and fellowship with others who do not share our positions, not go and look for people who are just like us all the time.

Mrs.B. said...

Great post Susan! I, too, can see in my own life having blogging being only a season. I don't have any immediate plans to stop but I sense that I won't do it forever.

Sherrin said...

I realised soon after posting my comment, that I'd posted it in the wrong box! I had both this post and the one on theology up during one of my breaks at school. Of course, I was in a hurry! So I quickly typed my comment on theology . . . into the wrong box! I think this goes quote well with some of what you wrote in this post. We must keep blogging under control, and it is hard to find the time to make intelligent comments :)!!

Susan said...

What an excellent object lesson, Sherrin! ;) I hadn't even noticed that your comment was in the "wrong" thread.

And being willing to extend grace to others with different theological positions (especially ones vastly different) is something that it is hard to do, especially for those who see the importance of theology! I've struggled with this some, but having plenty of friends and family with different beliefs makes this a little easier.

Sherrin said...

Yes, I find that when I know someone I can see God's work in their life even when I disagree with other parts of their life (including in the area of beliefs) it helps me keep things in perspective. Especially when I consider where I was at a few years ago!