Saturday, January 22, 2011

Trust: What's Your Angle? Part Two

Installment six of my series on One Word 2011: Trust.

Yesterday I share a few of the insecurities I've faced regarding what we in the church crew like to call my "calling" (psst, Sarah, everyone calls it that). I, in my insecurity, have wondered if my words matter, if they are useful to God and if anyone will ever read them. But, regardless of the size of my audience or the prestige it brings, God does have a use for my many, many words, and He, by simply caring about them, ascribes significance to them. And that significance is not simply validating, it breathes life into my frightened, wound-up little soul.
Relax, little one, you matter to me.
That I must write may be established but then, how do I do it?

I bounced around the edges of the blogging pool during my first few years mostly because, if I'm honest, I was afraid to find I was just another voice in the clamor. But I've gradually begun to explore the deep end and I've found that its very interesting here. My first observation was that there were so many different categories of blogs out there, techie blogs, coffee blogs, mommy blogs, Jesus blogs, satire blogs, humanitarian blogs, gluten-free blogs, dog-lover blogs... every blog has a unique platform. This is simultaneously fascinating and terrifying.

A blog, like any self-initiated public venture, brings with it the pressure to stand out. You may have a great deal to say, but if you don't have a hook no one will pause long enough to listen to it. Each author has to have an "angle." If you're a staff writer for an established publication, you're staking your paycheck on your ability to say something important in an interesting way. When you're blogging for yourself, you're doing something a whole lot more frightening.

A personal blog is a way to, essentially, publish yourself. You put the best parts of you onto an electronic billboard and ask the world to care about it. By seeking out a clever angle, you essentially find a way to trim the fat and say "This is the core of who I am wrapped in a quirky, eye-catching frame. Please find it interesting. Please listen to what I have to say."

Once I realized that I had no angle besides the Sarah Elizabeth angle (I'm not sure what kind of audience there is for that...) I started to panic. I thought what is it that makes me different? What makes me me? How can I publish my overflowing thoughts in a way that will make people care? My search for an interesting angle transformed into a search for myself. I got overwhelmed in the tide of self-doubt, so I did what I always do when I get panicky and overwhelmed: I made a list.

Who Am I?

  • I love Jesus (but there are already a million Jesus blogs out there, scratch that)
  • I love child-focused humanitarian organizations like Compassion and World Vision (aw, but they have staff writers and I haven't even been to visit a Project, scratch that)
  • I love kids in general (but you can't have a mommy blog unless you're a mommy)
  • I love reading (but you have to finish books to blog about them, scratch that)
  • I love music (but I don't even want to try to put myself up against the music gurus out there!)
  • I love coffee (but I'm not a connisseur, and I don't really want to be)
  • I love like running
(did I really just strikethrough Jesus?)

As the list went on yielding empty idea after empty idea, my panic deepened and I began to question whether or not I even mattered as a person. I was utterly un-unique. One-dimensional, no angles. I don't know if there is any fear so paralyzing as the fear that you have to make something of yourself and you simply don't have good enough materials. Like trying to make an evening dress out of cuts of meat (...wait).

About the time that my panic was reaching clinical levels, God, as He so often does, grabbed my cheeks in his huge palms and reminded me
"we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Cor 4:7
I am nothing. I have no angles. I am an empty, rough, unglazed, earthen jar. But I am filled to overflowing with  molten gold. I am filled with fragrant Nard, the aroma of life. The balm inside me heals the world. I am one of a thousand voices, but we are all One Eternal Spirit. The excellence of the treasure inside me does not depend on the vessel administering it to the world.

And I have been chosen.

This is not to say that creativity, humor, cleverness, and ingenuity do not have importance. On the contrary, we are all stewards of the capacities that God has given to us. But we must, I must, understand that He is the potter in this story. There is no need to make this vessel interesting because God has already made it; He continues to remake and refine it. And the treasure inside spills out a little more with each turn of the Wheel.

So I rest (almost) comfortably in His hands, eager to see the craftsmanship, but no so eager that I jump off of the table.

There's a short little refrain included on Aaron Shust's album, Anything Worth Saying that, by no intention of my own, has became a sort of heart-prayer for me every time I sit down to write.
"Give me words to speak, don't let my spirit sleep, because I can't think of anything worth saying..."
Find your voice. Say His words.

Next Post: Continuing the Journey