Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Saturation and Resignation: A Blog Sabbatical

I recently wrote about some changes that I've observed in the blogging world. Upon further reflection, it has become clear that it is not only the internet world that has changed, but my response to it. I'm full. Full to bursting. Even though so much good is being accomplished through the internet, it is too much for the senses. I do not need it all. I am forgetting how to to sort it all out. My saturation level has been reached and exceeded and I am now quite uncomfortable after overindulging for far too long. Like several helpings too many at Thanksgiving dinner.

I need a break and a walk around the block.

I'm taking a year sabbatical from active posting here in an effort to get my peace of mind back. I have allowed the blogging world - writing, reading, engaging - to sap me, distract me, and redirect me... and I'm going back to basics.

The list of blogs I read is going on the chopping block again as well, not because I don't love every one of them, but because I can't take it all in and stay sane. It's like having 100 or so wonderful women constantly chattering in my ears about their lives and emotions and children. yikes. Plus... a feeling of obligation to encourage and respond to all of them. All women I love, of course, but I'm ready to come home after the party. The few blogs that remain in my feed will be the ones that encourage and inspire me to step away from the computer and into the fullness of my vocation.

I have stepped away on several other occasions in order to breath and I can give you a whole big list of justifications for sticking it out; but ultimately, there is only one thing that matters: I want to follow the path that God has chosen for me in all things. I long to have peace and a holy resignation to His dreams. I believe and know from my own experience, and the experience of others, that joy lives there. And I want to swim in it.

The blogger inevitably must battle with the temptations of self-focus, and we all tend to justify our efforts by citing balance as the key. This is a healthy outlet for me. Yes, it is. This is a great way to find community in a world where I am a minority. Absolutely. Blogging edifies me so that I can bring a better me back to my home. Usually, this is true. But my head and heart get stuck on that word balance...

A life in Christ is not about balance. It is about giving all to His holy will. Name me one saint you think was "balanced" and I'll find you a hundred more the world considered certifiably nuts. They lived by God's love, not a carefully measured standard of activity involvement. I do not wish to be a balanced person, I wish to be a saint. Part of becoming a saint is clearing out even good things to make room for the better. And it is clear to me that my heart and mind are not being improved by the perpetual noise of the internet. I am low on the saintly ladder rung. I need to clear away the clutter so that I have room to stretch out my arms when God reaches to raise me up.

I am not going on a full internet fast. (I am an introvert, not a hermit.) I will simply actively engage in areas that honor my primary commitments to my vocation and family outreaches. I have enough on my plate to feed an army of moms (don't we all!) and I am out of excuses and justifications for keeping myself occupied here. The internet world does not need me. My family needs me. I am done with private deceptions. This place is clearly not helping me to be a better mother.

Instead of reading about mothering, I will mother.
Instead of admiring tutorials, I will craft.
Instead of spending 30 minutes admiring the handiwork of others, I will sew for my own.
Instead of accomplishing one thing and taking time to post about it, I will accomplish two.
Instead of ticking off the minutes posting for a recipe link-up, I will cook.
Instead of bawling over the endless stream of beautiful memories of others, I will make my own.
Instead of reading a mountain of articles between 600 and 1000 words written by everyone, I will read longer works written by a few.
Instead of reading mostly quotes and excerpts, I will dive into source materials.

I want my mind back at a reasonable pace. I want to be a slow Catholic. A purposeful Catholic. Acting and speaking and reading at a pace of peace and richness, not according to what is trending, but according to His purpose.

Instead of constantly blithering my own thoughts here, I will let wisdom speak to me. There is no doubt that I need to shut up and listen more.
Instead of feeling pressured to speak, I pray to speak only in His time.
Instead of typing, I will pick up a pen and feel the paper beneath it.
Instead of reading next to my children, I will read to my children.

This blog needs some organization and updating in some areas and so I will probably do that a bit over the next year but I have no timetable and will not fret if it doesn't get done. I am two empty baby books behind (they seem to get smaller with each successive child); I am probably better off learning how to print photos again and record memories there with a real pen.

I thought about just stepping away and not saying anything about this like so many happy bloggers do. After all, I'm not the center anyone's universe. But this brings some accountability and will help explain to my friends why I am absent. I have seen bloggers come and go and felt very sad over the departure of some of my favorites. On reflection, I realize that one of the reasons they were my favorites was because they kept their priorities straight. I want to be like those bloggers... free to step away and live.

The blog will remain open and accessible and my hope is to return next year, but I am leaving that open to discernment. Perhaps I will discover that I do not wish to return at all. We shall see. I do enjoy participating on Facebook and will keep the FB blog page open and active... please join me there if you want to continue to stay in touch. I am dreaming of sewing a pretty dress for baby and I will surely post pics there once it is finished! I will also remain on Pinterest and would love to connect with you there as well.

Let the sabbatical commence! I am ready for some mental, spiritual, and physical housekeeping.

Sweet Jesus, rain down Your mercy and grace! I am Yours. Every time I beg you to change my life, You faithfully respond. It's always terrifying and always exhilarating and always more astonishingly painful and beautiful than I could have imagined. Divine Surgeon, You know where I need work. Please do it again. I am Yours. 

...and this is me, stepping off my virtual cliff and into the hands of God...





44 comments:

  1. " A Life in Christ is not about Balance" I like that will be thinking about that alot. All the best in your fast, may you feel renewed and connected{{}}
    now you've got me wondering what blogs help you, I'm always searching for help, I too am judicious in what blogs I read.

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    1. Hi Erin - I have to do that blog pruning soon but not today. I have a feeling that it won't be end up being as short as I'd like...lol. I'll post on FB when I get my list down and try to put the links in the comments here, too. I love to promote lovely bloggers. :) Thank you for the well wishes! I hope that you are feeling well and have plenty of time and energy to cuddle your beautiful new baby. You have such a lovely family and inspire me! God bless you!

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    2. Melody
      Would love to see your list:) I try to keep mine around the 30 mark, and as not everyone writes daily (some might go for weeks or longer not writing) this doesn't mean too many posts to read. btw you've just inspired me to take a plunge I've been feeling led to since the NY, I've just whittled my fb account down to family only (and 2 friends ) and I might even delete entirely yet.

      Thank you for your kind words , I'm delighted and humbled. Baby is rarely not being cuddled:)

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  2. I completely understand but I'm going to miss your posts so much! I think you are my #1 favorite blogger and have been for quite a while.

    I'm so glad that you'll remain on facebook though... and I'll definitely watch my news feed for the day when the sabbatical might end!

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    1. Cammie- Your statement says a lot more about you than it does about me. You have been very generous with me at times when you didn't have to be and your beautiful spirit has helped me to grow into a better person. I don't intend to lose sight of you!

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  3. What a great thing to be able to step away. I hear lots of people talk about how they'd like to be on the internet less, but I know very few people who carry through. I struggle greatly with it myself. If you ever happen to think of it, I'd appreciate your prayers. :) blessings !

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    1. It is very hard to do, isn't it? My challenge will be making sure that I just don't replace this precious time with other non-essential things. I will certainly pray for you... we can pray for each other! God bless!

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  4. Amen sister! I felt the same way, and I can tell you it has been so freeing to be away from the blogging world. Instead of seeing my life as something to post about, it is mine - my families' and God's. I am still working on my Pinterest and Facebook addictions. :) Life is too full to live in virtual reality! I hope you enjoy your break. (I'm sure you will!)

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    1. "Instead of seeing my life as something to post about, it is mine..." I love that line. Thank you for taking the time to share it and for your encouragement. I know what you say is true and I am looking forward to this year!

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  5. You really are so in my head, it freaks me out a bit! This is beautiful and honest and well-said and makes me sad but I get it and I respect it so much. I will miss your writing and you, truly.

    I get that same sense of over saturation and agree that there is just too much information coming at me from so many sources. I, too, get overwhelmed and lost in all the voices. It also raises the expectation for constant stimulation in my head and tempts me to get "bored" with normal real life. I'm going to keep praying and discerning what I should be doing with my own blog because I do so get what you're saying.

    And yes about the balance. I've had that "off" feeling when I hear people elevate balance (or rather a false idea of balance) as the ideal and have had those same exact thoughts myself. Thank you for once again putting much better words than I could to the thoughts of my heart.

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    1. We seem to have a similar experience of each other's blogs...lol. Everything you said is so true. And I know everyone is in a different place so I would not judge someone for blogging or not. I have been doing this for 6 years and so much changes in that time. Sometimes we're overwhelmed, sometimes we're not, sometimes life demands more of and sometimes we have more time to write and visit. I think the key is the ongoing discernment. I would certainly be crushed if all my favorite bloggers gave it up all at once! Although maybe that would help me focus. :) I can't wait to read that belated birth story of yours, btw!

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  6. I totally understand. I have been trying to do the same thing for a while now. I fear the computer has become an idol in my life. I have a hard time balancing things without quitting cold turkey for a while.

    Thank you for letting us know so we don't worry. Enjoy your year of silence. May God bless you in it.

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    1. Ah, yes. The computer as an idol. Thank you for saying it. It is a hard truth to look at but many of us are probably guilty to varying degrees. Like you, I have a hard time moderating without quitting (all or nothing) so maybe we are more prone to that kind of idolatry. Thank you for being such a source of encouragement and good companionship on this journey... I have appreciated it very much. God bless you!

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  7. I'm going to miss your blog posts, but I understand where you are coming from. As my responsibilities as a mom have increased over the past several months I've come to the realization that blogging is something that frequently has to take a back burner so I can focus on my vocation as a wife and mother. I think it's easy for the internet, in general, to become too much and contribute to a situation where things are unbalanced. I've had many moments over the years where I wonder how many precious hours with my children I've frittered away because I was "busy" doing something on line.

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    1. Karen-Your last line made me squirm! Isn't it the truth though?! God help us be the mothers we are called to be! You are doing such a great job. The time that you have taken to keep trying with homeschooling and balancing your kids' different situations... I admire your courage and willingness to give your best for your family. God bless!

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  8. Oh my, you will be missed. I just whittled my own blog reading list down a ton and I stuck yours in the very first folder- the one with only about 10 blogs that I don't want to miss a post on because they are so edifying. I will be praying for you this year- may your sabbatical be rich with grace and margin! xo

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    1. Sarah - I would not have believed myself to be on that list. That is humbling since I have such a high regard for your writing. I am looking forward to February when I can curl up with the computer and go through all of your the posts I have been "saving" to read. Thank you for your prayers... I will not waste them!

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  9. And here I just started reading your blog because I liked it's "littleness." But I am completely on the same page, there are so many voices in my head from blogs it's unreal. I think you've inspired me to step away for awhile as well. Thank you.

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    1. Katharine - It's nice to meet you! And I appreciate that you took the time to comment. I do enjoy blogging and am already feeling that twinge of disappointment but your comment about "littleness" helps tremendously. It reminds me that I want to stay little and I need to continue to practice detachment in order to pursue that. God bless you!

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  10. "It's like having 100 or so wonderful women constantly chattering in my ears about their lives and emotions and children. yikes. Plus... a feeling of obligation to encourage and respond to all of them. All women I love, of course, but I'm ready to come home after the party."

    Once again, you take the thoughts swirling all chaotic in my head and state them just perfectly. That's exactly what it's like sometimes. Good for you to make your goodbyes and head home.

    Sad day for those of us who learn so much and are inspired by your posts, but I can't fault you for doing it. Enjoy those gorgeous kids, that wonderful husband, and all that life has to offer. I'll still be keeping in touch on FB. You can't get rid of me that easily. :)

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    1. Christine - I don't plan on getting rid of you at all! Now I'll be able to read your posts with much more leisure and enjoyment. The pigs are like old friends now... I must see them periodically or life will just be dull. I'm starting to get a little curious about where I will be this time next year. I started to put together a "What I did for the last 12 months" post in my head... and that's when I knew this might be more challenging than I thought...lol. God bless!

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  11. I am going to miss reading your words very much. However, I understand very well where you are coming from. As I am reading this, I feel like I am reading my own thoughts. I tend to have highs and lows about this world that we know as the internet. I trying to have one foot in and one foot out so soon enough I can jump off as you did. Thank you for your words through out these years, you have help me in so many ways and I pray that one day we will meet if not here than with Our Dear King. God Bless you and your sweet family!

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    1. Ceci- Has it really been years?? Wow. It does become real community after a while, doesn't it? I am grateful to have been walking beside you through it! I go through ups and downs as well... which is why I'm not closing the door, just stepping away. There is something very good about this community of faithful and I am a better person for it. Joining you in your prayer that we will meet one way or another. :)

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  12. God bless you, Melanie! You will be missed but as moms we all understand. Enjoy your kiddos & your time in silence with our Lord. You'll never regret this decision.

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    1. Thank you, Courtney! It is a little like cutting off a hand (okay, I'm being dramatic in the extreme) but I know I will not regret it. Praise God!

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  13. Melody not Melanie. That's what I get for Swyping my comment on my phone.

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  14. I understand, Melody, but I will miss coming here. I'm not on FB (for all of the reasons you give for going on a blogging sabbatical) so I won't be able to follow you anywhere else. I hope you find peace and happiness!!

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    1. Thanks, Colleen! I understand about FB. I think because I waited so long to hop on board there (and did so very tentatively) that it has been a mostly edifying experience. I can see it getting out of hand though. I will still be around reading blogs (love yours!) so it won't break my heart too thoroughly to step away. :)

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  15. Although I'm a relative newcomer to your blog, I will very much miss reading your updates! What a beautiful post (as usual). God bless you & your lovely family.

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    1. Thank you, Nell. One benefit of this break is that I will get to explore your rich blog archives a bit more! You have so much to explore and I have been itching to dig in. God bless you!

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  16. I love your line "Part of becoming a saint is clearing out even good things to make room for the better." It's so easy to convince ourselves that we surround ourselves with good and holy people when we read the blogs we do, but it takes time away from what is often right in front and around us, our families and living out our faith. This was a great reminder and wake up call for me to think long and hard about.

    I will keep you and your family in my prayers and look forward to seeing what the Professor does with the CRTL group.

    God bless!

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    1. Donna - Thank you for your prayers, particularly for Professor's pro-life involvement. It is definitely walking into the enemy's camp. We have increased our prayers for protection for all involved.

      I very much enjoy reading your blog. You write authentically and purposefully and peacefully, even when you explore difficulties. I found myself in tears while reading the other day... but I did not leave depressed, but moved and inspired. God bless you! I'm sure I will see you around. :)

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  17. Praying you grow and learn much from your time away. I will miss dropping by to see what you are up to, but so totally understand.I find my own blogging is much diminished as I go about my full days with those I treasure and spend time with.
    God Bless
    Gae

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    1. Thank you, Gae. Yours is one of those blogs that inspires me to go out and LIVE! You do have treasure! Thank you for sharing glimpses of your rich life with us. :)

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  18. You are a very wise woman to do this. Those beautiful children need you and what better way than to free up more time to continue the vocation of wife, mother, home educator.
    PS....use some of the extra time to incorporate some fresh, green smoothies into your children's diet!!!! LOL, had to plug the green smoothie goodness. Trust me it will change their lives--outlook on food!!
    Peace & Raw Health,
    Elizabeth

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    1. Plug away, Elizabeth! lol! We're slowly improving our habits. I raised them on boxed frozen food... it's not going to change overnight. But we're making some huge positive changes. I have to tell you that I got rid of all of the wheat in the house and some of the kids were reluctant. They've been without for a couple months now and Crash tried to reintroduce a huge donut into his system. He was doubled over in pain and swore off donuts forever. I felt awful for him but couldn't help but giggle a little over the baby steps we are struggling through. :) Thanks for all your support and encouragement!

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  19. I have only just found your lovely blog and see that you are officially now on hiatus. I truly understand your desire to step away. Sometimes I wish I could just toss the whole internet and go back to the card catalog at the library. I love books, but the internet is addictive in a completely unsatisfying manner.

    All this to say, I filled my diesal van with gas, too. :-) All the children, eight of them, sat with me while I had to borrow a stranger's cell phone (mine was dead, of course) and call my husband in guilt-ridden panic. That was a seriously expensive lapse in attention. God bless you. I'll spend a little time reading your archives.

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    1. Thanks, Regina! It's nice to meet you! I have a feeling I won't be staying away for good but the break will be nice. I also dream of ditching it all... and then some good reason will draw me right back in eventually. I have to keep up with these teenagers, too. You probably know about that!

      I'm ashamed to say that my diesel van filled with gas misery loved your company. :) I was not happy to hear that you broke your van... only to know that I wasn't the only one to do it. If only I could go back to that moment when I grabbed the wrong fuel pump!! Seriously expensive lapse in attention, indeed!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment... God bless you!

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  20. Oh, Melody, you put it perfectly here.

    These words could have been mine, if I knew how to put my thoughts into words like you:

    "The list of blogs I read is going on the chopping block again as well, not because I don't love every one of them, but because I can't take it all in and stay sane. It's like having 100 or so wonderful women constantly chattering in my ears about their lives and emotions and children. yikes. Plus... a feeling of obligation to encourage and respond to all of them. All women I love, of course, but I'm ready to come home after the party."

    Wow, I love that. That is exactly how I feel. that obligation to respond and be a good friend. That "reply" button on our own blogs are a huge guilt trip too.

    Wow. A whole year. I admire you. I will definitely have to pray about what God wants me to do. We all do, huh?

    I have a hard time with the READING of other people's blogs...so many, and every one of them wonderful. I've been thinking a lot lately, if I knew I were dying, like say in a few months...what would I do? I'd let my blog friends know and quit it. Why? To be completely present with my family. Well...I should be doing that now, right?

    I'll be praying for you, God bless you. And thank you.

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    1. Boy, it's only been a few days and that year is feeling awfully far away. ;) But I keep asking God to take charge and if I mean it, I think I need to let some things go for now. You always strike me as a peaceful blogger. Sometimes you can almost feel the tension in a blog (unless I'm misunderstanding) and the desire and effort to be big. I've been guilty of that lack of peace and when I step back and take it down a notch, I start to realize how badly I'm prioritizing! But I do feel peaceful at your blog because I see that you are living... and that makes me want to live well, too. Thank you for that and God bless you!

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  21. Praise God for His grace and thanks for sharing your heart. May you continue to witness, as He calls you, in His time.

    I'm blessed to call you my friend.

    ad Jesum per Mariam

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    1. Thank you, Lena. God has worked through our friendship to bring me here. I am praying that this year will find us both swimming in the freedom of His grace. Wherever that leads. ALL FOR!

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  22. Melody, First thank for you coming back to blogging! This is my first time here and I found your words about "A life in Christ is not about balance. It is about giving all to His holy will."

    That and your list if insteads gave me some much needed insights the helped me reflect on how selfish I can be at times and why things don't go as I want.

    To much "I", and not enough of me giving to our Lord.

    May our Lord bless you and your family!

    David

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