HELLO THERE, FRIEND!
(we'll keep this short & sweet)
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When I was seven, I made my own diary using wrapping paper, cardboard, a hole punch, and string. I think it was a summer camp arts-and-crafts activity. I was excited about my new masterpiece and couldn’t wait to start writing in it. A few days later, with a red crayon, I scrawled my first spelling- challenged entry: “Today I got to go to the zoo. We fed the jirafs and a cloun painted my fase. Then we came home and ate makirony and cheez. It was the best day of my lif.”
For the next year or so, I continued to record many exciting entries in my prized diary – details about my pink and purple birthday party, my newly-constructed “live worm farm” in the backyard, and my quest to become a champion roller skater by the time I turned ten. (Sadly, this lofty ambition was never achieved.)
Soon, I graduated from my homemade diary to a real one – complete with a fancy lock and key – which I kept in a hidden location under the far corner of my bed. As I grew older, I began to write about deeper things – my feelings, hopes, struggles, and dreams. By the time I was eleven, I had a collection of at least five different diaries, all of them filled with the vast inner musings of little Leslie, and all of them extremely private. I would not allow another soul to come near any of my diaries. This rule was quite strictly enforced upon my two younger brothers, who posed a constant threat to my “diary code of honor.” Statements such as “Keep Out!” and “Private – Do Not Read!” were scrawled on the front cover of every diary I kept, along with a few menacing frowny faces to ward off any curious little meddler who might stumble upon it.
Even in elementary school, it was my firm belief that the content of any diary was supposed to be a secret. In fact, that was part of what made keeping a diary so special. After all, if my inner ponderings were displayed to the world, I would have nothing special or sacred left to guard and protect. Everyone would know everything about me – and where was the fun in that?
Back in the day, it used to be perfectly normal to keep a diary (and all of its contents) a secret. But now we live in different times. The era of the private diary has all but faded. In its place has emerged something new and infinitely more powerful – the blog. Modern blogging provides an opportunity to get all of your feelings “out in the open” while impressing people with your unique and artistic philosophy skills at the same time. A blog is basically a diary - with an audience. All of the “Keep Out!” and “Private – Do Not Read!” signs have been removed. The lock has been broken off. Instead of keeping our personal ponderings and feelings private, modern blogging encourages us to publish them; to creatively market our unique thoughts and ideas in order to gain a following.
Sure, there are many cooking blogs, knitting blogs, and auto-mechanic blogs (wow, that sounds really tedious!) that probably don’t fall into this category. In practical blogs such as these, useful information is being shared rather than emotion or personal philosophizing. And there are some edifying spiritual blogs published by Christian leaders used to exhort their readers with God’s Truth. But that’s not how most modern young women use blogging.
For all too many young women, blogging is an unhealthy publicizing of thoughts and feelings that should be kept private, a distraction from the things of God’s kingdom, and a careless waste of precious time.
One of my favorite Scriptures is Luke 2:19, when Mary the mother of Jesus “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Mary had witnessed amazing miracles; she had encountered an angel, she had prophesied, and she had given birth to the Christ-child. She had personally participated in God’s plan for the rescue of lost humanity. If anyone had a reason to publicize her thoughts, observations, and experiences, it was Mary. And yet, she chose instead to keep them and ponder them in her own heart.
From my first diary at the age of seven to my current journal, I have thousands of pages that capture my thoughts, dreams, fears, struggles, and prayers throughout the years of my life. And still to this day, nearly all of them are kept private – they are not for public consumption, but rather are for personal communion with Jesus Christ. In my books and articles, I often write about personal experiences or share snapshots of my personal spiritual journey for the purpose of exhorting my readers in their faith. My life is not a closed book. And yet, the deepest thoughts and ponderings of my heart are kept secret, away from the eyes of the world, and seen only by my heavenly King (and sometimes my husband as well). In spirit, my “diary” still has a “Keep Out!” sign on the front cover. And I believe this is how it should be.
As women, God tells us not to exude merely a physical beauty, but to allow our beauty to flow from the “hidden person” of the heart: “Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - rather let it be the hidden person of the heart...” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
The phrase “hidden person of the heart” refers to the secret, intimate part of who we are; our emotions, musings, dreams, struggles, and ideas. When we fall into the habit of publicizing our intimate thoughts, we have no “hidden person of the heart” left to protect; nearly everything we think, hope, dream, fear, and feel is out there on display for the world to see. Granted, it can be more exciting to deposit our personal thoughts in a public forum rather than a private journal, especially when people leave us nice comments and our following grows with every blog post. But going public with our thoughts can all too quickly lead to unbiblical patterns in our lives, destroying the feminine mystery God intended us to preserve.
Unhealthy blogging can take a variety of different forms. I’d like to explore a few of the most common ones. Whether you are spending time reading other people’s blogs, writing your own blog, or both, these are the blogging trends to avoid at all costs.
“All About Me” Blogging
We live in a society that is constantly telling us how “special” and “important” we are. Even the modern Church has picked up the “love yourself, be true to yourself” mantra, so that even our so-called worship of God is laden with self-focus and self-glorification. The blogging world is no different. Young women often use their blog platform as an excuse to turn people’s eyes to themselves and what makes them special, different, beautiful, etc. Of course, it’s not always as blatant as coming out and saying, “I am really a big deal. I hope you notice and appreciate how great I am.” Usually it’s a lot more subtle than that, like sharing all kinds of details about your personal tastes, quirks, pet peeves, and so on. Or mentioning specific ways in which your personality is so different and unique. Or spending paragraph after paragraph waxing eloquent about your own dreams and desires. It is entirely possible to have a blog that mentions Jesus over and over again still be completely about you. Many Christian bloggers think they are pointing their readers to Jesus Christ, when in reality they are only exalting themselves. Eric and I call it “spiritualized selfishness.” Ian Thomas explained this concept well when he said, “It is startling to discover that even God may be used as an excuse for worshipping yourself, demonstrating again the satanic genius for distorting truth and deceiving man – for it was to this temptation that Adam and Eve fell in the Garden!”
Sisters, let us not use our “Christian blogging platform” as an excuse for lifting up ourselves. The goal of any conversation, be it written or spoken, should be to leave others with a clear view of Jesus Christ, and a blurry view of us. As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
(Note: For more on this topic, I encourage you to listen to Eric‘s sermon titled Spiritualized Selfishness.)
“Fishing for a Guy” Blogging
As strange as it sounds, many young women actually guy-hunt and flirt through their personal blogs – sometimes without even knowing it. When your blog becomes an outlet for your emotions, a showcase for your unique likes and dislikes, or a chance to voice your romantic dreams and desires, it makes your heart an open book for any guy to read whenever he wants. Not only does this destroy the natural mystery God gave you, but guys can also use the personal things you share on your blog as a way to manipulate your heart. Instead of having to ask you questions, get to know you, or study and observe your life over time, a guy can simply use all the information you have shared on your blog and start acting like the kind of man he knows you’ll fall for.
The same is true in reverse. “Fishing for a Guy” blogging is a creative way to manipulate men’s hearts. Instead of waiting on God, controlling their emotions, and allowing God to script their love story in His perfect time, girls often try to impress their guy readers by showing off their wit, sense of humor, unique ideas, creative artistry, magnetic personality, and the list goes on. When a girl writes a “what I want in a guy” kind of blog post, it is like standing up in front of a room filled with eligible young men and announcing that she is actively hunting for Prince Charming, that she is making her romantic dreams the prime focus of her life, and that she is really hoping a guy will show interest in her. Not exactly the recipe for godly feminine mystique.
If you want to write about the qualities you want in a guy or philosophize about the romantic dreams God has placed in your heart, then your private journal is the perfect place to do so. Let this be something sacred that you share with your King, the Author of all love and romance, and the Keeper of your heart – not something you share with every guy who happens to stumble upon your blog. Your future husband will surely appreciate your guardedness. And more importantly, you will be honoring your Heavenly Bridegroom with your discretion.
(Note: For more on this topic, I encourage you to read Answering the Guy Questions.)
“Blah, Blah, Blah” Blogging
Second Timothy 2:16 says, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (KJV). The term “vain babbling” here means, “empty discussion, discussion of vain and useless matters.” What a perfect description of the vast majority of modern blogs! Pointless ramblings, emotional philosophizing, chatter that really doesn’t have much of a purpose other than to sound artistic and wax eloquent about nothing in particular – this is what is currently hip in the blogging community. But vain babbling is the opposite of godly communication. Romans 14:19 says, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” The word edify here means, “to build someone up in their faith, to promote another person’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, etc.” If we choose to blog, our primary goal should be to edify our readers; to build up their faith in Jesus Christ and encourage them spiritually through what we are sharing. In other words, if you don’t have something truly important, edifying, and God-honoring to say, then don’t say it (or blog it) at all! Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, “...every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (KJV). May we weigh each word we say (and write) in light of eternity.
“Fan Club” Blogging
Popularity is much easier to achieve now than it was when I was younger, thanks to the global blogging community. It used to be that in order to become one of the “cool kids” you had to wear the right clothes, use the right slang, and strategically position yourself around the in-crowd. Now, if you simply know how to sit at your laptop and blog in a hip, trendy, artistic, or unique way, you can become popular, gain your own little fan club, and get your ego stroked by the many affirming comments that people leave on your blog site. “The fan club factor” is one of the most dangerous and addictive aspects of the blogging world. All too many young women who blog spend a huge amount of time and energy “competing” to gain more subscribers and see more comments posted on their blogs. They are addicted to the applause and approval of the outside world, and this is their leading motivation for blogging, despite often proclaiming that their blog is “all about Jesus.” But what does God say about those who desire to steal the glory that belongs to only Him? Let’s look at a brief snapshot from Scripture:
So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died (Acts 12:21-23).
Though Herod’s example is a bit extreme, we must examine ourselves according to the same standard by which he was judged. If being noticed, appreciated, and recognized is the motivation behind anything we do, we are headed down the wrong path, subtly stealing glory and seeking praise that belongs to our King alone. When you find yourself constantly checking to see how many new subscribers you have, always taking a peek at the comments people post, and feeling jealous toward other bloggers who have a bigger following than you do, it’s a sure sign that you are “fan club” blogging rather than doing it for the sole glory of Christ.
“Fake Preacher” Blogging
One of the most dangerous things about the Internet is that it puts everyone on equal footing; veteran pastors of fifty years often have far less influence on the web than the many immature eighteen-year-olds who just happen to know how to blog well. The web world removes all personal, real-life interaction with people and only allows us to observe one small part of who they really are. As a result, we often have the tendency to judge someone’s credibility by how well they can put words together, rather than basing our judgment on their true character. People who have very little understanding of God’s Word can gain spiritual influence over others just because their blog sounds spiritually strong. I call this “fake preacher” blogging. In real life, these bloggers may be self-focused, worldly, and spiritually weak, and yet in the blogging world they are looked up to as spiritual giants and Christ-like examples. In 1 Timothy 3, Paul gives very detailed and specific qualifications for teachers and leaders. He warns that those who train, lead, teach, and disciple should not be novices, but should be tested and proven before they are given influence over others (see 1 Tim. 3:6,10). We should never blindly take spiritual advice from people’s blogs simply because they can write well. Every- thing must be tested against the Word of God, not just by how artistic the words sound.
When it comes to your own blogging, offering simple, Christ-like encouragement and godly edification is great, but steer clear of attempting to teach, train, and disciple others if you are not truly qualified to do so.
James 3:1 says, “... let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” Teaching others about the things of God’s kingdom is something that must be done with fear and trembling, knowing that we must one day give account to our Creator for every word spoken (or written). The Truth we speak (or write) must first be tested, tried, and proven in our own lives before we are truly capable of teaching it to others effectively.
Blogging, just like Facebook, movies, or music, is not intrinsically evil in itself. It can be used for the glory of God. Yet because of the many pitfalls awaiting us in the blogging world, I encourage you to take this area of your life before God and allow Him (not the current trends) to shape your approach to both writing and reading blogs. Be willing to give it up for a season, or for a lifetime, if He so leads. Nothing is more important than your relationship with Jesus Christ, especially not a bunch of empty words floating around in cyberspace.
Truly, He is worthy of everything – even the “good” things in our lives must be laid at His feet. (And if you decide to exchange your blog for a diary, I can show you how to make your very own out of wrapping paper and cardboard!)*
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