The Story Behind My Blog

Why am I telling you the story behind my blog? you may be asking...

One of my assignments in the Intentional Blogging Challenge is to write the story behind my blog; why I started one and what I hope to accomplish with it. It's taken me a few days to tackle this one because I have to go back to a stressful time to answer these questions.

There was a lot of drama going on in my life when I created this blog in 2007. Some of the drama was public. Some of the drama was extremely private.

I wrote a book in 2009 about growing up in a cultish church and how I broke free to live the life I'm living today. In 2007, I didn't know that I would soon write and publish a book about that journey. To be an author one day was a dream of mine, or maybe I should say a fantasy. I'm not sure I ever really imagined I could -- or would -- make it a reality, but I felt compelled to write about my life. And I had several friends who were blogging. A blog seemed like a natural outlet for me.

By 2007, I had been "free" of my former church for over four years. But I use the word "free" loosely. I had left physically. And I was in a wonderful new church environment. But I still carried a lot of baggage spiritually and emotionally. One of the things I was still wrestling with in 2007 was what I believed doctrinally. I was raised with some unusual teachings. The one I had always struggled with most was "perfection." I was raised believing I had to "reach perfection" to "make it" to heaven. And I mean sinless perfection equal to the life of Jesus Christ.

Yes, that's a heavy spiritual load to grow up under. What that teaching meant to me was that I would never go to heaven. In my heart, I couldn't imagine how I could ever possibly be perfect. 

When I left the church I was raised in, I was searching for real truth. I wanted to believe the gospel that other Christians believed; that my salvation was 100% accomplished through faith in Jesus and not by my own works or achievements. But I had been told all my life that Christians who believed that were just looking for an easy way. So, not wanting to be deceived, I struggled to believe the true gospel because it seemed too good to be true. I did not want to simply exchange one set of beliefs for another without being convinced in my heart of what and why I believed.

Along with much reading and studying, listening to sermons, talking to my pastor and asking God to open my eyes, I blogged about my search for truth. I blogged about being taught perfection. In fact perfection was the subject of my very first blog post. I also blogged about some of the ways I felt I had been let down and betrayed by the religious "body" I had been raised in.

I knew some of my old friends read my blog to see what I was saying. There was a lot of controversy back then, and some of it was online. That was the public struggle. My blog was one way I was trying to reach out. I wanted to be heard. But more than that, I wanted to be understood. I'm not sure my blog ever accomplished that with old friends.

The extremely private struggle I was in back in 2007 was my husband's CLL diagnosis. (CLL stands for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.) He was symptomatic at diagnosis and his prognosis wasn't grim, but it wasn't optimistic either. At that time, the median survival from diagnosis was eight years. He was 53 and very young for his age. You can probably imagine how hard that hit me. We had only been married three years. And he was the answer to all my prayers as a husband. I was utterly devastated. And I couldn't talk about this very big, scary threat to our "happily ever after" because he wasn't ready to share it openly. Even though I am not a private person and I cope by sharing, I had to respect his desire for privacy.

I immersed myself in CLL reading and learning. I felt so helpless. The only thing I knew to do was soak up all the knowledge I could so that I might at least help him make informed decisions about treatment. I cried a lot. And I stayed home a lot because I don't have a poker face. I don't do pretend. Not even a little bit. I was fighting tears any time someone asked an ordinary question like, "So, how's life treating you?" And without explaining my emotional state, I would have only caused friends to wonder what in the world was going on.

Every time I looked at my husband during those early months, I silently told God, "I can't lose him," while my eyes filled with tears. I knew God's will might not be the same as mine and I was so scared. But I also knew God didn't have to give John to me in the first place. I was still blessed. No matter what the future held, I was grateful I had the blessing of being John's wife. And I pushed through all the fear to reclaim Romans 8:28. Even in this, I believed God was working all things for our good. Even if I couldn't possibly understand how that could be true.

Many of my early blog posts focused on whatever I was reading. The first book I read after John was diagnosed was Prayer: Does it Make any Difference? by Philip Yancey.

You might be able to speculate on why I was drawn to a book like that. I was struggling with prayer and whether or not my prayers would have any bearing on what John's future held. You see, my mom was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer at the age of 48. I was 27. Many prayers were offered on her behalf. Even prayer with fasting. Seven months later, two weeks after her 49th birthday, she died. God did not add years to her life even though we begged Him; even though everyone around me assured me God was going to heal her.

John lost his only child, his eighteen-year-old daughter, to a fatal asthma attack in 2003. We would have welcomed a miracle to keep her with us during that 48-hour hospital vigil. We were all praying. But it wasn't God's will. We had to accept an outcome we didn't pray for.

I have had to accept God's will when it didn't line up with mine on many occasions. And I was truly wrestling with prayer; whether or not it would make our outcome any different. I didn't want to put myself through the anguish.

The majority of my blog readers had no idea what I was going through as I wrote about prayer. I would not be given John's blessing to write about CLL until 2009. But writing helped me to focus on spiritual growth and gave me an emotional outlet in spite of having to keep some of my deepest fears internalized or cloaked in ambiguity.

My original purpose in blogging was simply to keep a public journal; to process and share thoughts on spiritual growth and daily living; to connect with others in meaningful ways and to perhaps make someone else feel less alone in their struggles. I'm sure I have faced nothing in life that someone else out there cannot relate to. I've received as much encouragement as I've offered.

My blog's purpose has evolved over the last seven years to include many functions. I now blog about CLL and the successful clinical trial my husband and his mom have participated in since 2010. (She was diagnosed in 2008.) I've blogged about my writing journey as I completed and published two books on overcoming past abuse. And I've written more than a few posts on the subject of abuse and how I have healed from those wounds. I've written on a wide range of experiences, opinions and emotions. I've blogged on gratitude and food and joy. One goal I will never have for my blog is to stick to one specific theme or subject. My goal isn't to attract the masses or make money.

Although I may write on a variety of subjects, the reason I write is always the same. Writing is a valuable exercise for me even if nobody cares to read what I share. But I always write in the hope of connecting with a reader and making a difference with my words. I love authors who reveal their struggles and fears and mistakes as well as their successes and triumphs. When an author shares about their own brokenness and relational issues, I feel less alone in mine. And that's what inspires my writing.

I like feeling less alone and more like just another member of the human race.
And I always hope my writing will do that for someone else.
Maybe even you.


Sandy said…
Thank you for sharing your story. As a Christian I think it's important to allow the world to see our struggles. God is the only perfect one.
You are so open and I thank you for sharing. Keep writing. Know that you are loved. GBYD
Shari said…
Thank you, Sandy and Sheryl Anne!

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