An Explanation, of Sorts, For My Long Silence

Late in 2016, an idea for a fictional world falls into my lap, seemingly out of nowhere. I am bitten, hard, by the writing bug. I have a small cohort of fiction dreamers, five other women who write lovely words and offer lovely critiques and are, themselves, lovely. We share our work at the beginning of each month and suddenly, in 2017, all my (rare and jealously hoarded) free moments are given to the art and the craft of fiction. I agonize over this in my journal – what to write, and when, and how – but continue with my world-building and character creation, setting aside essays and blog entries and articles even as I question whether this is the right way to spend my time.

Early in 2017, a new president takes office, and the online world loses its collective mind. I do not like the man who now inhabits the Oval Office. I did not vote for him, finding him manifestly unfit for the presidency, and nothing that happens in his first few months in office disabuses me of this conviction. But then the hyperbole and the indignation and the hostility begin. My Facebook feed explodes with voices talking past each other, links to this and to that, poorly formed arguments and counterarguments, calls to action and pleas for change and one thing after another until I can feel the stress and anxiety building even as I scroll, and I wonder even how to make my voice heard in such a cacophony of outrage.

Early in 2017, I look at this crazy, broken, unhappy world, and Jonathan and I have long talks about what role we are called to take, what actions and responsibilities are ours when so much of what we see is bigger than what we can address with our small words, our small lives. I tell him of some steps I’ve decided to take, my own attempts to raise a candle against the darkness I see in the world, and he says, “Oh, but it doesn’t count unless you talk about it online.” He says it with a smile, aiming his words at the culture at large and not at me, but still they convict. I think about the ways I use the spaces in which I have a voice – on social media, on this blog, in real life – and I grapple with how and why to share my words.

Early in 2017, I question whether what I have to say, what I have to offer, is of value, when I am so often working through things myself, when finding the path between confidence and doubt, between idealism and pessimism, between sharing beauty and recognizing the hard often feels so treacherous. I do not trust my own motives, for my own selfish desire for praise and recognition all-too-often lies behind any encouragement I share. I wonder, too, about the things I’ve written here, about the stories I choose to tell: what will my daughters think of them in fifteen years? What will I?

Early in 2017, my good sleeper of a baby decides she needs more Mama time. The best time to get it is in the middle of the night, when she can have my undivided attention, and so I soothe her at ten and at midnight and at 2 a.m. and at 4 a.m. and, when her sister wakes at 6:30 a.m., I wonder where I will find the energy to make it through the day.

Early in 2017, my toddler enters a boundary-testing phase.

Early in 2017, my blog falls silent.

One perfect afternoon in March, I sit outside as the girls sleep. I scribble in my journal, asking the same questions I have asked over and over again. How should I use this time, these gifts I’ve been given? What does it mean to love well in this modern, connected world? Who is my neighbor? I am striving, longing to do something of value. To use every part of me in pursuit of what matters. To do enough. To be enough.

But then, I let my hand fall still, let my pen stop its frantic movement across the page. The moon, a few days shy of full, hangs just over the hill in front of me, pale in the cloudless sky. I close my eyes. The sun warms my face, tempered by the gentle whisper of a breeze on my skin. The frogs call to each other down by the creek. Their song drifts up the hill towards me, mingled with the sound of birds and the occasional passing car. I am calm. At peace.

There are times of action, times of doing, but it occurs to me that here, in this moment, at this particular point in time, perhaps this is all that is wanted of me. To be still. To rest. To receive grace.

I do. I sit, still and resting, in the sun, in the warmth. On that day, and the next day, and the next, and it is enough.

Then the words well up, wanting a way out, and I open my long-neglected blog and give them release. I am not so simple as to see it as a formula, as a pattern, for I know it does not always work like this.

I still do not know all the ways I am to be light in a dark world. I do not know the best way to respond to injustice in the age of the Internet.

But for now, for this moment, I write. I type out these few words in this humble space, and I am at peace.

And it is enough.

4 response to "An Explanation, of Sorts, For My Long Silence"

  1. By: Kirk Posted: March 14, 2017

    Jenn. But you do shed a bright light in this darkened world through your words and insight and wisdom that God has graced you with. It is a gift. It is a blessing and a way for people to step back and reflect and re-think and quiet themselves – and hopefully through the process become better by it. So, yes, what you have to say and offer is of value. And it is best when it comes from someone who struggles and questions. Because NO ONE has it all together and has the perfect exact answer. It is best to hear from someone who has been through similar things in life and can share their learning. And also to see other perspectives. Because we too often think our perspective is the only true one. Through the community of your writing we can be opened to new perspectives and thoughts we didn’t think of or were too proud of our own to be enlightened by others. So, thanks for writing again! God has you writing and has blessed you with that gift. It is only the evil one who discourages and puts doubt in there.

    • By: Jenn Posted: March 14, 2017

      Thank you so much for your encouragement, Kirk. It means a lot to me.

  2. By: jywatkins Posted: March 16, 2017

    Many of the same questions I ask myself as I struggle to write. But I’m glad you’re back. I’ve missed your words 🙂

    • By: Jenn Posted: March 17, 2017

      Thank you, Jamie. It feels good to write here again. And, selfishly, I’m glad I’m not alone in asking those questions. 🙂

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