For the second year, I’ve written daily blog posts for Lent.
I don’t presume to believe I have that much to say, worth sharing publicly. I could have just journaled daily for Lent. But, there’s something about the discipline of writing a complete thought, that others might read, and the accountability of public posting, that’s particularly helpful to me.
Like I said, I haven’t presumed anyone would read anything I write. But, for those who do, I am grateful. I hope it’s been worth your time and attention.
On this Monday after Easter, I thought it might be useful to reflect on what this Lent has meant to me; specifically, what I’ve learned from the discipline of daily blogging.
Reflection 1: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting
When I wrote my first post, Two Essential Elements, on Ash Wednesday, I never could have imagined how the events of that day would unfold. By nightfall, seventeen were dead, seventeen were injured, Nikolas Cruz was in custody, and our entire community was in a state of shock.
We scrambled to change our evening Ash Wednesday service, to provide comfort, care, and prayer in the immediate aftermath, as we have with much of our ministry every since.
Personally, I had no idea how this tragedy would affect me emotionally, spiritually, and theologically, leading to some significant wrestling with God and a difficult search for Truth. It’s been a difficult journey, as has been evident in some of my blogs. Though I still have questions, and am still uncomfortable with some of the answers, I’ve been forced to dig deeper than I would have otherwise.
Reflection 2: Closer Observation and Deeper Reflection
Daily blogging requires a fresh idea, worth putting into words, daily. Knowing I needed something to write required me to be more observant, and more reflective. I had to pay closer attention to the details of life, of conversations, of what I was thinking and feeling, and what I was reading and learning.
I can’t help but wonder how much of life I normally miss, simply because I’m not paying attention.
Reflection 3: A Complete Thought
Reflecting is often open-ended, as were many of my blogs. But, offering a blog for public viewing requires a higher degree of “completion.” A particular blog may have started with a question, or a partial thought, or an observation. But, before I could hit “publish,” I was compelled to complete my thoughts, to the best of my ability. Though I often end posts with questions, I tried to never leave a reader wondering what I was attempting to say.
Reflection 4: Everything is Spiritual
Yes, I’m a pastor. Yes, I spend a lot of time thinking about God. Yes, I spend a lot of time reading spiritual material. But, beyond that, looking for daily inspiration for blog posts has opened my eyes to spiritual truths in unexpected places.
God is everywhere, in everything. All we have to do is look.
Reflection 4: Views, Likes, Comments, and Shares
I’ll confess, I’m a bit obsessed with how people react to my writing. I’m always curious about what posts attract readers’ attention, and which ones don’t. I wonder what will create controversy. I wonder what will be helpful. I wonder about how much of my self to reveal.
I’m embarrassed to admit, I check my stats a lot.
Some days are more humbling than others. My least viewed post, Remember Your Baptism?, was only read 29 times. But, that anyone – even 29 anyones – chooses to ready these posts honors me.
On the other hand, What Broke Him, was read over 3600 times, and shared on Facebook 961 times!
I also realize blogging daily may be overkill. I don’t read the same writers everyday. Why would anyone else? I can’t help but wonder if less is more.
Reflection 5: Am I Passive Aggressive?
As I’ve been learning about the enneagram (I’m a 9 and The Journey toward greater health and wholeness), I’m learning that 9s (my type), have a tendency towards passive aggression. The last thing I want to be is passive aggressive. But, I do, admittedly, avoid conflict, often swallowing and suppressing my hurt and anger. Perhaps that anger slips out in unconscious ways.
Undeniably, I’ve felt the freedom to be “snarky” in a number of my posts. Would I be as open and honest in public, or face-to-face? Honestly, probably not. Have I use my blogs to be passive aggressive? Maybe.
This is, very likely, one of my growth areas.
Reflection 6: TV and Social Media
For several years, I’ve given up TV and Social Media for Lent. Though my blogs automatically post to Facebook and Twitter, I’ve been “logged out” since Ash Wednesday. Normally, I give up TV and Social Media, simply to create more space for quiet, reflection, reading, and writing. And, after Lent, I’m never in a hurry to turn the TV back on, and I’m usually slow to reengage on Social Media.
But, this year, with all of the negative news, especially surrounding the Parkland Tragedy, I was glad to be shielded. I suspect, in my own inner-turmoil, watching the news or reading ugly posts would not have been good for me.
Reflection 7: Post-Easter 2018
My personal belief is, whatever we do, or stop doing, for Lent, ought to have some impact on your life when Lent is over.
For example, in 1992, I gave up meat for Lent. I’m still a vegetarian, 26 years later.
What about this year?
Some have asked if I will continue blogging. I certainly won’t be blogging daily! Last year, I blogged sporadically; mostly after major events, or if something was on my mind. This year, I am going to attempt to write a weekly post, every Monday, and then when I feel led to write anything else.
I also have a stack of books to read – as always. But, these were books I planned to read for Lent. The Parkland tragedy, and my inner-turmoil, forced me into some books I hadn’t planned to read. So, my Lent stack is still mostly unread, now becoming my Easter reading, instead.
Reflection 8: Grateful and Curious
If you are reading this, or any of my previous posts, “thank you.” I’m honored and grateful you take the time to read what I write. I’m grateful when you respond. I’m grateful when you share my writings with others.
And, I’m curious. Is there anything you would like for me to write about in the future? Any topic? Any issue? Any ideas?
I’m very open to your input, questions, suggestions and requests.
Thank you again for reading my posts. Have a blessed 50 days of Easter!
6 thoughts on “Post-Easter Pondering”
Since Easter Sunday was the anniversary date of Jeff and I attending First Church, it was a special day⛪️ And using the church website enlighted me to read post, events, etc. and yes Vance, your Lent postings! They were a daily reading. I was sad on the posting of our “baptism” as I was probably younger than 6 months. And honestly some days effected me more-I felt such pain for what Christ suffered for us.
I do have one recommendation….I have friends and retired Pastors that were classmates that are on on various mails and I wanted to send them. How do I make that happen?
And your honesty about your feelings are refreshing-thanks for sharing🙏
I think the easiest way would be to email them the link to my website, http://www.vancerains.com. The most recent post is always on the first page.
Every day during Lent, your blog has been my “required reading.” I’ve laughed some days, I’ve cried others…but each day I’ve grown. It’s been like having a great ongoing conversation about our vital connection to God seen in things large and small. I even enjoy your “snarkies”! Thank you!
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I have made a point of reading your blogs everyday during Lent, and anytime you post them (since you first started). They are one of the highlights of my day, and each day I look for them. Many are thought provoking, some are amusing. Some, like the one about your “friend” (motorcycle), made me laugh out loud!
I am disappointed that the daily blog has come to an end (for the time bring), but as always, look forward to the next one!
Thank you for writing them!
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I looked forward to your daily blogs – like hearing from an old friend. When I was unable to use my computer, I made sure that your blogs were saved for me to catch up on. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, emotions and conflicts you may be experiencing.
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