I was thirty years old when I gave my life to Jesus. After three decades of living only for myself, there was a lot to unlearn.
I knew I had been given a new heart; I was a new creation. Not just because the Bible told me so, but because I felt it in my spirit. It was a moment that happened that could never un-happen.
But living from this new creation heart? I had no clue how to do that.
The answer came six months later.
I walked away from the one thing I thought gave me my identity: my blog.
I started out blogging about single motherhood and my adventures in dating and parenting. I created my blog out of boredom and loneliness one night and soon I wasn’t lonely anymore. I began to tweet and fellow tweeters became my best friends. They were people I had never actually met of course, but people with the ability to validate me unlike anything I had ever experienced.
I got used to the validation. It felt good to be seen, for the mess of my life as a single mother to be accepted, for the unsung beauty of my life to be celebrated.
Every retweet, comment, and spike in my stats felt like a meal I could feast on. For all the feelings of rejection I had packed on, for all the uncertainty I felt about my worth, finally a deep need to be wanted and to belong was being filled.
But the more I feasted, the hungrier I got. And the meals started feeling like mere morsels. I couldn’t write enough, or tweet enough, to keep the craving pangs at bay.
My blog became my life.
Even as I fell in love with my new husband, and my whole world began to change, expand, brighten, I still wouldn’t loosen my grip to my online life. My cherished identity as “mom” wasn’t enough for me either. The only identity that mattered was being a personality in cyberspace.
And then I met Jesus and heard all about how he loved me, and how loved me so much he wanted my identity to rest firmly in Him.
But at home when I sat down at my laptop and opened WordPress to write, I lost who I was in Him. Or maybe I didn’t lose Him in the writing, but I surely lost Him in the obsessive follow-up to that writing.
The rush of being wanted, the comfort of belonging, the thrill of being liked for my words and thoughts — I was dependent on it. And on the days I wrote something that fell flat to my audience, I was crushed by it. If ever I heard crickets after a post went live my whole day would be ruined.
Even at church I couldn’t praise or worship unless I was celebrating my own glory.
This was big problem.
I knew it. But I didn’t not know what to do about it.
“Why don’t you quit blogging?” My husband asked me one evening.
It was my birthday, and I was in tears yet again about my good-for-notin blog. Ever since I pronounced my new love for Jesus my readers began dropping like flies. This broke my heart. I wanted both loves.
But Jesus makes it clear you can’t serve two masters. In Matthew 6:24 he was talking about money, but he could have just as equally been talking about fame on the internet.
And I knew my blog had to go.
I surrendered my hopes and plans as a writer and laid my blog down at the foot of the cross. I turned it off. Shut it down.
And I didn’t expect to go back.
What I didn’t know then, is that God asked me to lay it down, not because it was bad for me, or because it couldn’t be used by Him. He asked me to lay it down because He was jealous for me. He wanted me to find, and know, and live freely from my identity in him, not in anything else — even the very things he has given me as gifts.
Our stories are gifts from God. And I call myself a “writer” because God has blessed me with a love for, and an ability with, words. Writing is a blessed gift.
But even good gifts don’t make great identities.
Ironically, God has invited me back to this public space of sharing my writing online. And with fear and trembling I have returned, holding tight to what I have learned about what it means to live from my “new creation” heart. For me it means I stand firm in my identity in Christ and I use the gifts God has given me, not as fishing lines for validation, but as instruments for his glory.
I am His. And if I am His, my stories and words are His as well.
Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez , Creative Commons