Monday, July 20, 2015

Is Blogging a Vocation? (I Heart Blogging Series Pt. 1)

This week, I'm doing a series on Blogging. Bloggers unite! I {Heart} Blogging is where I tell you what I have learned about posting all of my deep thoughts on the internet, in over eight years of blogging. I hope it encourages you in your blogging journey. If you have any questions about blogging, please leave them in the comments section for me and I will hopefully get to your questions at some point later this week!

Michele, over at My Domestic Monastery, had a really nice post the other day, I'm Wasting My Life (and So Should You), about the purpose for motherhood, and the transition of going from a working Mom to a stay-at-home, writing Mom.  She wrote about working and then choosing to stay home, as well as the link between the monastic vocation and the vocation of motherhood... and plus, why it matters.
It really resonated with me.

oh, ya know... just wasting my life... on this preciousness. 
just two of the sweetest little munchkins ever.... nothing special. ;)

I did the whole working wife/working Mom thing for about 3 1/2 years. I was a (Pre-School, Classical School Co-op/Dance) teacher and a nanny in Maryland, helping put my hubby through grad school and helping to pay the bills. I then transitioned to stay-at-home Mom turned Homeschooling mom, which was its own vocation, surely. ;) Now that I am a writer and mostly a stay-at-home Mom, I've had to rethink my vocation a bit.  In fact, I had a long phone conversation with my sweet and dear friend Rhonda last week, and we talked about our reasons for blogging, along with a laundry list of other things... like writing, creativity, and yes, how to make money doing this and other side projects.

I have been struggling, albeit mostly with pregnancy hormones (heh, heh).. but also with the practical side of writing, for some time now. I think the desire to earn money via blogging has been a really hard stepping stone for me. Or maybe - let’s call it - a really tough hurdle for me to jump. Because it isn't just a step, it's something I've had to willfully and intentionally jump over multiple times since I started.  Why am I even giving you advice, if I'm not even making money blogging? Some things are easy, and some things are hard. Let's face it...

...It is hard to feel worthy, and it is easy to feel worthless.
It is hard to put yourself out there, and it is easy to feel rejected.
It is hard to make a connection with someone, and it is easy to accidentally reject or be unloving toward others.
It is hard to feel heard, and it is easy to think others are talking at you.
It is hard to keep thick skin, and it is easy to take everything personally.
It is hard to be quiet, and it's easy to be bitter.

I think with Michele’s post, my conversation with Rhonda, and all of the quotes and recaps coming out of the Edel conference, I have been reminded of something in the blogosphere, that my sweet community of readers, friends at church, husband, and family have been trying to remind me all along.

I’m not worthless. I’m worth more- as a wife, mother, studious blogger, and writer- than I’ll ever know.  Blogging doesn't have to be about just making money. Being a volunteer or in ministry doesn't make you worthless or unqualified. Just like being in a monastic vocation or a part of religious life, or being unpaid as a mother doesn't make you worthless.  People say- if it's not making you any money, then it's work that's not worth doing.  In fact, there can be an unspoken idea that if you're not a Professional,  if you're not doing something professionally, then you shouldn't be doing {that} something, even at all.  What does that even mean? Does that mean you shouldn't be a Mom?

In The Cloister Walk, Norris explores the concept of the vocation.  She explores, during her own time at an Abbey, the senselessness of this lifestyle to "worldlings," as she calls them. The culture "out there" will never understand things like a vow of poverty or a vow of chastity. She even goes so far to call those outside the Abbey "degenerates."  These are the people who- like the Communists- only found value in that which is now considered Propaganda. While viewing an exhibit of Nazi-approved art in New York, she stated, " ... it struck me that the real issue was one of control. The meaning of the approved art served a commercial or political purpose." The Nazis had it flip-flopped: they classified Crucifixes as "Degenerate Art," and their art was for two purposes: to promote their political agenda, and to put down the religious life.

Jesus turns it all on its head.

The cross turns propaganda and financial gain and art for profit on its head.

The woman with the jar of expensive oil turns value, love, and our normal definition of sacrifice on its head.

When is it appropriate to reject or forgo monetary gain? I recently started volunteer-teaching Latin to the kids of our parish.  It does- at times- make me yearn for the days when I was paid to teach.  It reminds me that I can do it well. I have many blessed experiences from my time teaching Latin and other subjects, that have made me stronger and better.  Spending time prepping and teaching can be done well without a paycheck in hand to carry home. And it can be done all the while keeping our complaints contained! But it is hard. Should I stop?

No. And yes, we should "waste our life for love of Christ," but in a sense, I'm not wasting my time. I'm not wasting my worth or my resources. When the temptation to feel like I’m doing it incorrectly (simply because I'm unpaid? Or worse, because I'm just a humble sinner with my own personal problems galore, if we're being honest) becomes the strongest, and when the voices of the naysayers sound the loudest, that’s when I need especially the grace and strength of God. When others come down too hard and judge me, or think I’m doing it wrong, or see something inherently lacking in me - the me that God made me- I just have to pray for grace and peace. And when I do indeed let others down around me- with my writing, or just my family, or my parents, my husband, my kids— with my bitterness, my bad attitude, my tendency to become angry at all the wrong times, at all the wrong things- that’s when I can pray for a special amount of grace to meet me and keep me, and carry me all the way home. And remember that it isn't wasteful. At all!

Yes, of course I struggle with my own special bouts of hypocrisy and yes, I have problems with things like greed and a balanced budget and hormones at times. Yes I have to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation when I go astray!  But my mistakes or failures or missteps or weaknesses do not rob my writing, my ideas, my creativity, or my motherhood/vocation of its value.  And neither does expectation make my life without value. When the expectations war against me-- of culture, the expectation of anyone else besides, well, God, and Jesus, and my kids, and my church family-- I have to let God give me peace for this one moment in time. And I have to intentionally let all of the other loud, noisy voices fall away and become silent, so that I can pray.  Just like if I were in an Abbey or a Monastery somewhere!

Could we perhaps say that the ways we are the weakest, and the times when we are the lowest are the times that are actually the crown? They are the things that make us strongest in Christ? I know it's cliched, but could we look at the value he places on it?  I've had to do a lot of crying since reaching my third trimester. But needing that grace and humility are really quite beautiful in his sight-- at least, I am sitting here, thinking of the religious life, and sincerely hoping so! Let the popularity, and all of my needy-greedy, fall away. I'm here to do His will, after all!  It's not what the world asks of us. But that's not what we're about, as Kathleen Norris so beautifully reminded me with this quote:

 part one in the I Heart Blogging series here


Amy Thomas said...

Great post! I can totally relate as a stay-at-home mom, blogger, homeschooling mom. Gotta keep our eyes on the prize. We are doing some good, tough work.

Carmen Orozco said...

Soy mexicana, no se mucho ingles pero me encanta leerte.
Gracias por esta gran lección en esta semana dejare de trabajar en oficina para irme de ama de casa y me da miedo. Al leerte me has animado y puesto a pensar.
Gracias y que Dios te bendiga

Rhonda Ortiz said...

Love this.

Tacy said...

I got some of this ... My bro is fluent in Spanish, so I will have him translate ! Thank you Gracias!!!!

Tacy said...

Yes! That is exactly right: good, tough work. Thank you, Amy!!

Tacy said...

Thanks, sweet friend:-)