Notes to Aspiring Writers: Your Dream, God's Plan (The Comparison Game)

This is article #3 in my updated Notes to Aspiring Writers series. If you're just joining me, take a look at the first two posts: My Book Story

When God Says No

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When I started blogging I thought I was the only person in the world doing it.

Laughable, I know.

I started out like many of you, writing for the benefit of my family. We live an hour and a half away from them and they weren't getting to see every milestone in our children's lives. So, without even knowing I was doing it, I started my own little mom blog and posted whenever I felt inspired to equate something my children had done to a life lesson.

My articles, if you can even call them that, were longish and in desperate need of editing. If a story can be told in the longest way possible, you can count on me to do it. I'm wordy, I enjoy writing "creatively" (which is “aspiring writer” for too many ellipses), and I didn't do it often enough to get better. It was an outlet, pure and simple, and I loved it for what it was.

Until everything changed.

God's dreams for us aren't always the same as our dreams for us.

The first of what would be several significant family deaths happened on my youngest son's first birthday. Ten months later, just days before we lost the second of my dad's brothers to the same disease, I wrote a story on my blog called The Brothers Three—a tribute, of sorts, to the legacy my dad and his two brothers left to their families. 

My family still talks about it.

I cried big, hot tears through it and got so much feedback of the "you're a talented writer" variety that I just kept writing. Every significant life lesson I had ever learned became inspiration for a blog post, and what started as a monthly sit down to blog quickly became a passionate, nightly pursuit of finding God in the everyday.

I won't lie friends, I loved every second of it. I had always known that writing about something helped me understand it more deeply. I performed much better in grad school than in college simply because I was forced to write about everything to learn it. Writing those early articles was like experiencing an unleashing of something deep in my soul. It was beautiful, freeing, and good. But somewhere along the line, it took a downward turn.

Social Media

When I started writing a daily blog, I didn't even really know what a blog was. I had only a fraction of the understanding I do now, and, as I mentioned above, was pretty convinced that I was the only one doing it.

Then I joined Twitter, and an entire world I hadn't known existed opened its doors to me. I quickly connected with other women whose hearts beat similarly to mine, and spent all my "free" time learning the art of blogging and doing everything the "experts" said I absolutely HAD to do in order to get noticed. 

Most of the time I felt like I was standing in the middle of a crowded, noisy room screaming, “LOOK AT ME!” at the top of my lungs. And I waited ... waited ... waited ... and prayed for the attention to come.

Sometimes, it did, and I was happy. Sometimes, it didn't, and I was crushed. It seemed like the more effort and heart I put into a blog the fewer comments I got. I surfed the blogosphere and read articles getting a whole lot more traffic. I became jealous of friends who were able to do things before me, and always wanted to know how much traffic they were getting. If my stats were down, I took it personally. If they were up, I took it personally. I began ignoring my sweet husband at night because I couldn't let anything come between me and my dream—and writing was my dream.

But God's dreams for us aren't always the same as our dreams for us. <<<Tweet that!

It started with a frown from my usually happy husband one night. He sat across the room, peering at me from behind my computer screen, and said something like, "are you going to be on that thing all night again?"

His words gave me pause for a few seconds, but I quickly dismissed them, and him, saying I had to get the post done so there would be fresh content on my blog the next morning.

"For who?" He wondered out loud. "What are you doing?"

"I'm writing," I said, "encouraging women to follow Jesus," (because you know, friends, that when you pull the "I'm doing something for Jesus" card, it's hard for a hubby to trump you. I knew it, and used it for all it was worth). I felt I had finally found an outlet that both made me feel useful AND provided something good for the world. My sweet husband had no idea what "blogging" was or what purpose it served in our lives. All he could see was the damage my new obsession was doing to our family.

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We'll talk more about this concept of God's dreams being different from ours, and the damage insisting on our own can do to those around us next time. But until then, can you relate? Tell me a little about your blogging story, friends.

How did things start for you? Did you struggle with feeling lost in the crowd? How did God meet you there?

(Feel free to link up a blog post in the comments if you've written one about it. And if you're reading this in an email, click over to join the conversation).