Why I’ve not been blogging

Oh, of course there are many reasons. Facebook (so easy to post a little status once in a while). The general hubbub of life (who knew working full time and chasing a 3 year old was this time consuming). Laziness (and the general addictiveness of a crossword or number puzzle).

But there’s something larger going on as well.

When I started blogging, I made a decision that blogging was a public act. I have a public job…not that I am a celebrity or any sort of major public figure. But, in my own little sphere, as a pastor, I am public. It’s a kind of fishbowl life. Ministry is, modeled after Jesus’ own ministry, incarnational, in the flesh, lived out amongst God’s people. And while they do not own your life, your life is part of the package when you sign on to be a minister. Who you are and how you live are sometimes just as important as what you say.

All of that is an overly intellectual way of saying that when you are a minister, people are in your business, and you have to, at least to a certain extent, be OK with that.

So, when I started blogging, I realized that I had two choices: try as hard as possible to disguise who I am and have a readership made up of those who are near and dear and who I alert about the blog AND anyone else who might happen to track me down OR just be right out there about my identity.

I chose the second and I’ve never questioned that decision. It meant that I had to filter what I write, assuming that not only family and friends, but also colleagues and church members, present and future, would see my blog and know who it was. When you google my name, my blog is one of the first things you get to.

There is often quite a bit that I don’t say on the blog. I try not to vent. I try not to say bad things about people. And, I limit some of what I write about my own life.

When I was pregnant with Zora, I didn’t say much, if anything, about that on the blog. The practical reason: I was looking for a new call, and my blog, being public, was also the place I pointed search committees to for examples of sermons.

Now, I am pregnant again, and eager to have some opportunity to think about that on the blog.

But it’s the process of getting pregnant that may explain why I haven’t written much in the last year or so. Because a big piece of what’s been going on for the last year is something that I know is not considered appropriate to share. It’s one of the things-we-don’t-say of my generation. And, honestly, it was not something I really wanted everyone to know about while we in the moment: infertility.

Almost exactly two years ago, Erik and I threw out the pill and started trying to get pregnant again. It was time. We figured it would take six months at most, based on our experience with Zora. That time, we decided to start trying, figuring it would take 6-12 months, and we were pregnant within a month (honestly a little sooner that we had bargained for). And I was pretty clearly “fertile” pretty quickly after her birth.

And this time, nothing…for the first year, we figured it was just a quirk.
Finally, we saw a doctor. And things got rolling.

In the grand scheme of the infertility world, we got pregnant pretty quickly as soon as there was some medical assistance involved.

But it felt like forever to us while we were going through it. And each month felt like a new level of awful. My lowest point came on Mothers’ Day, when I sat in front of the congregation, watching babies get baptized, all the while being reminded by cramps and flow that, yet again, I was not pregnant.

I shared what was happening with my colleagues…for practical reasons (explaining a sudden departure from church when the clinic called to tell me it was time; the frequent doctors appointments, etc.) and because they are wonderful people.

I shared with some folks in the congregation. Partly because I needed to talk about it, but even, to some extent, as a bit of a pastoral experiment.

Here’s what I found out: if your pastor tells you this is a struggle, you suddenly have permission to share what has happened to you.

I heard about miscarriages. I heard about lifetimes of identifying with the “barren women” of the Bible. I heard about the gratitude for the one child they had and the tinge of grief that there wasn’t going to be another.

The other associate pastor asked me, at one point, if I would ever think about mentioning it from the pulpit. Maybe, was my answer. If the text pointed to it anyway. If I could find a way to say it without being too emotionally raw. If I could find a way to say it without feeling like I was overplaying my own situation in the face of people who had tunneled deeper into the the process. It never really came up in the text, and sometimes I wonder what I’ll do now that I am pregnant if I have a clear opening into the issue of infertility in sermons or other parts of my work.

Meanwhile, it has me thinking about where one sets the personal boundaries as a pastor, when it’s OK to allow the personal not just to inform the pastoral, but to create openings for conversations. It has me thinking about the things we don’t talk about at church: infertility; mental illness; disease related to parts of our bodies that are “questionable”; anything that is taboo, but still wounds people deeply, and cuts into their souls, things that I wish we could open up to the healing light of God, filtered through God’s people.

And, I think it’s time to start blogging again…

5 Responses to “Why I’ve not been blogging”

  1. sko3 Says:

    Good to see you online again!

  2. Katherine Says:

    Amen. And welcome back. I’m very much enjoying reading your writing again!

  3. Meg Says:

    Thank you for your honest. As with the sermon you posted right after this, God has given you a gift of communicating yourself clearly and authentically but, perhaps more miraculous, of communicating gifts of grace as you find it, in all it’s forms.

  4. Thomas Says:

    It’s nice to hear other people struggle with this same balance of how much to share. As both a church music director and a public school administrator I struggle with how vulnerable and open to be. One of the marks of an effective and strong leader is one who is “in there with the followers”, so to speak, yet at the same time another mark is being wise enough to know what to share in the open and what to share “in secret” (so to speak)… Maybe one day I’ll be able to know when to speak (type) and when to be silent, but until then I take comfort in knowing I’m not the only one who struggles with this :)

  5. John Vest Says:

    Thanks for being so open about this. And welcome back to blogging!