Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blogging through Self-Doubt


I'm sure that every Catholic blogger has asked themselves at least once why they do it. Is it really worth the time spent away from work, from family, from prayer? Is anybody listening? Does anybody care? One of my friends recently shut down his personal blog altogether, saying "While I have a lot of respect for many bloggers, I feel the blogosphere to be a net negative to the Catholic Faith.  ... It is the epitome of Francis' 'self-referential Church.'  Far from leading to a deepening of the faith, it has led to a corrosion of it." Could this be true?

My friend's words certainly don't describe the work of CatholicMom or any mommy blogger I know. But I've seen the corner of the Catholic blogosphere he describes -- the place where people attack one another viciously over minute points of doctrine or liturgical practices that baffle non-Catholics and fail to bring anyone to a holier and more peaceful frame of mind. I regularly engage in verbal fisticuffs with Catholics on LinkedIn who insist that if the majority of lay Catholics reject the Church's doctrine on artificial birth control, then the lay Catholics must be right and the Popes must be wrong. I have to ask myself if I'm really helping when I enter the fray.

And my answer has to be yes. Every blogger, like every Christian, is a witness to the strength of God's love alive in the world. Every one of us has a story of struggles, joys, heartaches, and glimmers of the salvation that awaits us. We follow Christ for deeply personal reasons that uniquely showcase the majesty of God's creation and the depths of his mercy.

As the beloved disciple John said in writing his Gospel, "there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." When we bloggers share the difference that Jesus has made in our lives, we are drawing on an infinite store of spiritual power and wisdom that could more than fill all the books in the world. When we blog from a place of prayer and compassion, keeping the ultimate goal of salavation of souls in mind, we are fulfilling our Baptismal mission to spread the Good News.

We don't, or shouldn't, blog to show that we're better Catholics than anyone else. Our blog should not be a trophy case displaying our own intelligence or faithfulness, because in our heart of hearts we know that we've all done stupid and faithless things. Our blog should feature installments in the story of our on-going love affair with God. Because no matter how mixed our motivations, if we weren't in love with God we wouldn't be blogging or commenting or arguing online in the first place.

Some readers have called me arrogant and judgmental, and I have to accept those accusations as true since my husband and my spiritual director have echoed them on occasion. But those accusations need to lead me to greater warmth, greater compassion, and greater understanding. They can't sink me into self-doubt and despair. The solution for me and maybe for many of us is to give more, not to give up. Even from within a prison of our own inadequacies and sinfulness, we can still preach the Word of God.

St. Paul shows us how to continue our work of evangelization no matter what the shape or size of our prison. While St. Paul was in house arrest in Rome, he welcomed all who came to him and boldly taught them about Jesus Christ (Acts 28: 16-31). Under this same incarceration, he also wrote the great prison epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians -- back when people wrote in ink rather than in bits and bytes. So, following the great missionary example of St. Paul, I will continue to pray, to write, and to share with others my love of God even from behind my own internal and often invisible prison walls.

Photo Credit: bhollar via Compfight cc

14 comments:

  1. "Some readers have called me arrogant and judgmental, and I have to accept those accusations as true since my husband and my spiritual director have echoed them on occasion" You always sound pretty reasonable to me, but I suppose I'm arrogant and judgmental too . . .

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    1. Thanks, James. People are far less likely to call one another arrogant and judgmental when they share the same views! With folks who believe differently, I try to be on my best behavior but I don't always succeed.

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  2. Our Blogs should be the ones Jesus would want to read.

    God bless.

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    1. Excellent comment, Victor. You're right!

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  3. I've definitely had doubts about blogging before; sometimes, I can identify them as spiritual attack in hindsight, and other times, they linger and feel more real. I think if a blogger gives witness to joy in his or her vocation, like a blog about motherhood or just the day to day of his or her life might, the goodness of the faith speaks for itself. As for bloggers who write specifically on doctrine or apologetics, I think charity's essential, or else the truth can come off as judgmental, particularly in the way the blogger engages in comments and discussions--so many people just want to be heard and understood, not necessarily to be right, and when a Christian does that, it's so powerful to me. In that way, blogging can be like a ministry--by the way, I've always thought of yours that way, as a ministry to married couples! Write on, friend.

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Stephanie! I've had some interesting discussions lately about whether it's more effective to evangelize by showing -- like you said, talking about the day-to-day goodness of your vocation -- or by telling, which is more doctrine or apologetics. The best kind of evangelization combines both, I think. And I totally agree that charity is essential in the comments, and it's actually the easiest place to lose it because it happens often in real-time and tempers can flare.

      God bless you, and thanks again for your caring support!

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  4. I appreciate what you wrote and the comments that others added.
    I'm not sure why I blog. Sometimes I think it's my faith, hope, and love bubbling over. Sometimes I think that it isn't until I write that I understand my thoughts, feelings or attitudes somewhat objectively---especially when I read what I wrote later. Then I am surprised and think, "I wrote that?" The surprise is sometimes that what I wrote sounds good. Sometimes not.

    I belong to the arrogant camp, too, and I pray for humility and charity. I agree that we ought not give up because of personal weaknesses or imperfections---as long as we are trying to discern God's will. Jesus didn't choose perfect apostles.

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  5. "Sometimes I think it's my faith, hope, and love bubbling over" -- beautifully stated, Ruth Ann! And so true that the apostles weren't perfect either. That brings me a lot of consolation!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Melanie. I'm glad you liked the post!

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  7. It is a risk that when you have strong opinions, people will call you arrogant. People characterize St Paul as an arrogant and cruel person, but he was moved only by the Holy Spirit. I have not seen any arrogance displayed in anything I have read by you. Ever. You are defending something crucial, and you are not expressing anything but what you believe to be the teachings of the church. But if you experience self doubt, and don't think your words are getting across, remember that you are the mom of 6 kids,and that is the most important and wonderful gift you can give, raising those kids in the faith.cooking, cleaning, listening, drying tears, wiping noses, all of it. That is where the grace lies. What you are talking about in your posts is also something that you are doing in your own life in a very visible way. Having 6 kids now, in this world, and raising them in the faith--that is real heroism. Anybody can talk. You are doing it. :-) That's a house built on rock. God Bless.

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    1. I am honored and humbled by your impressions of me, Tina. And I'm grateful for your insights on St. Paul. God bless you also!

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  8. I'm an imperfect person -- there were only two that ever walked this earth. I think I'm most like Peter -- I try, but sometimes, I just screw it up royally.

    I think that all Christian/Catholic blogs can get into a "war" over who is better than the other - I've seen it over everything from hemlines to devotionals. I think the Lord is just calling us to be who we are, where we are, and to meet Him along the way.

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    1. The hemline that launched a thousand ships... So funny to imagine a war over hemlines, but I think you're so right. I imagine Our Lord wants to sigh the way I do when the kids are squabbling again and say "Please, won't you just stop fighting!"

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