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An Invitation to Live Quietly

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I pushed my cart through Trader Joe’s, my littlest one eating his lunch in the child seat, the way we do every Monday after he gets out of preschool. We moved past the veggies and fresh fruits and I reached for bag of carrots and thought about Twitter. I thought about what I should be doing on Twitter. I thought about all the ways I fail in the “savvy blogger” category. And then I felt my chest thicken. I held the carrots and took them back to the cart and my little boy reminded me to get to tomatoes for this brother. All the while, I took deep breaths.

I felt ill every time I opened Twitter this past week. I felt ill when I thought about Twitter. This is how my anxiety manifests itself: In my chest, in my breathing. I felt it spread across me while I stood in the grocery store and reminded myself that I may not be a perfect blogger, but I work hard. I told myself that social media savvy is not my gift. I asked God to remind me of what I’m doing with a blog anyway. I breathed.

This is not normal. I don’t usually panic about Twitter in the grocery store. But this week has been an experiment for me in weariness. These months in book release mode have caught up with me. And suddenly, I’m overwhelmed by Twitter, that tool I’ve been using daily for four and a half years.

What’s that about? It’s about fear. I am weary in the presence of Twitter because of fear. There are rules and I am supposed to perform. I perform because I want to remain in the conversation. But it demands something of me that is beginning to hurt.

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Last week I posted about the longing I have to slow down, to stop producing so much work, to be content with not being the loudest voice on the Internet. (Let’s all agree that a woman who writes a blog about spiritual formation and ordinary life is not going to be the loudest voice on the Internet….Let it go, Micha!)

I was amazed by this community’s response to that post: how many other writers and bloggers confessed their own struggles and fears of disappearing from the conversation. That fear of disappearing has a lot of control over the way I view my career. Whenever I consider backing away from producing the amount I produce right now, my heart pounds. I’m scared to death of losing my platform. I’m scared of losing you, readers.

Throughout my twenties, I carried a need to say something. I longed to write and be heard. I longed to be part of a bigger conversation but I didn’t know how to find that conversation. I’d stand in middle of a party and overhear a group of guys in the corner talking theology and I’d do everything I could do to get myself over to that circle so I could say something, anything. Now, I get to say something. Being part of a big conversation about God and prayer and faith is such a gift. And I love blogging for that reason.

What I don’t love is the machine of blogging. The rules of how and when I should use social media. The demands of how often I should get new content on my site. The frustration over what the crowds of readers want to read. Crowds are always going to flock to read about this week’s issue du jour and I know that covering “issues” is not my forte. I’m coming to terms with the reality that I write about prayer for a small niche of Christians. I am not a big-time blogger and I don’t have the bandwidth to be one.

When my inner monster shows up at Trader Joes, it reminds me that I’m not savvy enough. I’m not clever enough. I’m not successful enough. The Internet speaks loudly to the insecure striver in me. If I were more like this blogger or that one. If I were funnier. If I had more time. If I worked harder and slept less. Then I’d have more followers. Then my book would succeed.

Endless striving. Relentless fear.

Last week a writer friend responded to something I had posted about this in a Facebook community of writers. She said she’d been thinking lately on 1 Thessalonians 4:11. What does it mean to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life”?

I started blogging because I had something to say and I still do. I feel joy and freedom in being given the space to write sentences and work through ideas on prayer and theology and spiritual formation. Those things are good. But when did it become my ambition to lead a big Internet life? When did it become my daily task to be loud enough?

I cannot be loud enough and I don’t want to be. Yes, I’m desperately afraid of losing my voice in the conversation. But maybe I don’t keep my voice by shouting. Isn’t this how it goes? You shout long enough you loose the ability to shout at all. I want to write words for the long haul. And I want to be faithful to the God who leads me and moves my insides toward new thoughts and the new visions and new freedoms. I can’t do that by shouting.

I’m not really sure what that means, but I think that passage in Thessalonians is inviting us to a new sort of quiet life. Perhaps not the kind of quiet life Paul had in mind when he penned his first letter to the Thessalonians. Paul could never have imagined the bright screens begging for our attention, the world of media and noise and over-scheduling.

But still the invitation is there: to lead a quiet life, to pursue the small over the sensational. To work with our hands, even if that work is typing out words on a keyboard. We are invited into humility, into contentedness. We are invited to follow Jesus into the role of servant.

Sometimes humility is the riskiest pursuit of all.

 

 

 

 



  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ Leigh Kramer

    Leaning in to this with you, friend. xoxo

    • michaboyett

      Thank you for getting it.

  • http://loriharris.me/ Lori Harris

    me too.

    • http://kriscamealy.com/ Kris Camealy

      Me three.

      • michaboyett

        You people are so cool. Thanks. :)

  • sethhaines

    “What I don’t love is the machine….”
    Yup.

    • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

      I second this yup.

      • Tara Porter-Livesay

        I third this yup.

        • michaboyett

          So many yups! What can be done with the machine? Is there any other answer than simply choosing not to let it be in control? Easier said than done…

  • http://michellederusha.com/ Michelle DeRusha

    I have quite literally made myself sick these past couple of weeks over what you so accurately describe here as the machine that goes hand in hand with writing and publishing. I’m not sure how to work through all my angst and how it will all work out in the end, but I do know this: this post helps. A lot. Thank you.

    • michaboyett

      Oh, Michelle. We could get together and groan about the making yourself sick/book release experience. IT IS THE WORST. So grateful this post spoke to where you’re at as well. xo.

  • http://youaremygirls.com/ Jennifer Camp

    Yes, this art we create as we lean into Him, His goodness, His voice, is when beauty is produced, a gift is given. I love every word here. Yes, let’s do His work and trust our voices as He whispers. . .in the midst of a noisy world that tries to defines for us what it means to achieve. Thank you!

    • michaboyett

      Thanks for being here Jennifer! A quiet revolt against a noisy world. Sounds good to me.

  • tamarahillmurphy

    Micha, I can’t remember if I commented on last week’s post or not. But I’ll say it now — again or for the first time: I’m proud of you. I think you are pressing into something of high value and I’m rooting for you, friend. Thank you!

    • michaboyett

      So grateful to hear that from you, friend. xo.

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    rules were made to be broken, and the crowd is fickle and unpredictable anyway. keep writing YOUR heart. that’s the beauty we show up for:)

    i’ve been writing for six years to a (i’m fairly certain) smaller audience than yours. to that, i give a resounding meh. admittedly, i don’t have the book pressure, and that’s legit, but have fun. be faithful. you are enough. xo

    • michaboyett

      Thank you, my dear. Grateful for you and your voice.

  • A. Schindler

    I will say this: you may not be holding orphans in Africa or helping teens in crisis as you originally planned, but your book ministered to me greatly in a time I really needed it. It may not be wise marketing advice, but I agree that more words don’t necessarily mean better words, and having a louder voice doesn’t always mean what you have to say is more valuable. Your quiet life is making a difference.

    • michaboyett

      So grateful for these good words, today, A. Honored to have been part of ministering quietly to your life. What a gift. xo.

  • http://www.estheremery.com/ Esther Emery

    I love this, love this, love this.

    • michaboyett

      Love seeing you here, Esther! Thank you.

  • http://kriscamealy.com/ Kris Camealy

    Micha, I’m a newish reader here in your blog space, though I have *known* of you for years now. This post, and last weeks, have been such a gift. You are describing my very season, my fears, my thoughts–all of it, as it relates to being willing to live humbly, more quietly, and still write as God calls me to. So all this I say merely as a thank you. You’re not alone, and this encourages me. Thanks, friend.

    • michaboyett

      So grateful to hear that, Kris. The response to these posts has been amazing to me. So many people struggling with exhaustion. There is more to say about this, don’t you think? Thinking on that. Thanks.

  • Kelly Stanley

    Sometimes the quietest voices make the largest impact. Your post spoke volumes to me. I feel so much of that myself. Your words are beautiful, as is everything you have to say. I hope you never stop sharing these moments because I think they help so many.

  • Jana

    I love this. Love it. LOVE.

  • Lisa Landrum Henson

    Micha, thank you for your words. I’m in a season right now where I’m trying to figure out what exactly God does want me to do to glorify Him (and meet our family’s needs) – go back to a full-time office job? Do something with writing? Do something with my blog? Do something from home other than writing/blogging to be here for my boys? What? I keep thinking, I want to make a splash for God, I want to DO SOMETHING, but maybe God doesn’t need me to DO SOMETHING. Maybe He just needs me to follow where He leads. Your post reminds me, yet again, that we don’t all have to be the loudest voices or the brightest lights for God to use us for His glory. Thank you. (Now, if I can just get some clarity on what exactly it is I’m to do…but that’s another train of thought!)

    • michaboyett

      Peace to you as you make space to listen to God’s voice, Lisa. Thanks for being here…

  • http://propheticpostcards.wordpress.com Ellie Hart

    Gosh, It’s so hard to be called to be quiet! There is the part of me which fears exposure and censure which is drawn to the peace and safety of quietness and another part which is called to speak out and be ‘part of the conversation’ which strains against quietness pretty hard. I’m a paradox… and I’m guessing I’m not on my own there! Sometimes those internal struggles are good though. They keep pushing me back to lean on Jesus, which is totally the best place to be.

    • michaboyett

      Yes, I keep coming to an in-between place with so many things in my life. Maybe the struggle is the place where we’re supposed to land? I’m sitting here for a while until I know where to go with it. Thanks Ellie.

      • http://propheticpostcards.wordpress.com Ellie Hart

        I thought of you this morning. I was having a conversation this morning with Dr Emily, my paediatrician. She was planning a talk on the first few weeks or months after birth, how they can be much tougher than most first-time-mums expect them to be, but that somehow we manage to survive them. She also talked about how second-time-mums are in much less of a hurry to get to the birth! As I reflected on the conversation (on the way to the supermarket, let’s not sound too spiritual) I felt there might be something prophetic in there about the process of birthing a book or another kind of project… Pregnancy is full of hopes and expectations; birth is hard work, painful and exhilarating; and then the first weeks/months can be really tough going and demanding. Sound true?
        Emily will be telling the starry-eyed first time mums this weekend not to worry if the having-a-newborn experience isn’t exactly what they’re expecting. :) So, maybe that’s a word for you from the Lord too: Think of all the nice, kind, love-filled, grace-releasing things you would say to the mum of a colicky newborn… and then say them to yourself. Ellie

  • http://www.sonshineblog.com Sonshineblog

    The silence will strum on your heart strings – and inspire your writings even more. Be Well.

  • http://www.tracesoffaith.com/ Traci @tracesoffaith

    “Sometimes humility is the riskiest pursuit of all.” Yet no one was more humble than our Jesus. Thank you for your honesty. New to the blogging world, I love it but am overwhelmed.

  • Christine

    Wow! As a new blogger, I woke up feeling this same way! Thank you for sharing. It helps me feel not alone. I may not be the blogger who ends up going instantly viral. However, the feelings I felt reading this led me to believe that’s no reason to stop. Xo

  • Elizabeth

    Wow. Just wow. I actually have quit blogging because I have a whole four followers and 19 Facebook likes (most of which are probably obligatory family members). Ive said in the past that even if a blog post speaks to just one person, my work is done but then, in the midst of all these other blogs with thousands of likes, I lost sight of that. Thank you for this great post. Time for me to start blogging again!

    • michaboyett

      So happy to hear that, Elizabeth. Thanks.

  • Dena D Hobbs

    Thank you for your much needed words.

  • Briana Meade

    I needed this, Micha. I love your writing.
    Thank you! I agree with A. Schindler below, your quiet life is making a difference. Thank you for showing me how blogging is about remaining true to the deep and the real, not necessarily the loud.

  • My Four Kids Say

    First time reader :) This verse has been on my heart. Thank you for expressing it so well.

    • michaboyett

      Thanks so much for ordering my book! Hope you’re able to connect with it.

  • Kimberly Luker

    This is the first post I’ve read on your blog, Micha. And it really spoke profoundly to my heart today. I’ve been asking God for wisdom, for direction. I’ve been striving for a long, long time, and it leaves such a wake of fear, anxiety and feeling “never enough.” There is so much beauty in this post, and in that verse. Thank you.

    • michaboyett

      Oh, I know all about the “never enough.” It is such a lie and so hard to scrape out of your mind. Peace to you in the struggle, Kimberly. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Kristin Gordley

    I love this. Thank you for putting words to the struggles I have with social media as well. I’m not a loud voice either, but I want to continue writing with the voice God has given me!

  • http://www.bronlea.wordpress.com/ Bronwyn

    I came across this yesterday, and it was food for my soul: why we don’t need to cringe about platform. The imagery is rich and the metaphor is true: be blessed friend. See you tonight.

    http://www.deidrariggs.com/2014/05/06/why-we-dont-need-to-cringe-about-the-platform/

    • michaboyett

      Thanks so much for sharing it with us, Bronwyn!

  • John D Blase

    I replace the word ‘quiet’ with the word ‘eccentric’…I know, we’re not supposed to rewrite scripture, blah, blah, but for our current cultural context I believe those two words are synonymous. That slight word change allows one to be something more than ‘silent’ – it opens the door to be strange, weird, bizarre, unconventional, odd, and in a very real sense – memorable. Think about it, you could be known as ‘that eccentric Micha who only writes words that must be written, and she lets birds nest in her hair, and she wears three watches – all broken, and she eats carrots in TJ’s before she pays for them…’

    • pastordt

      Perfection right here. I’m likin’ that word. A lot.

    • Heather Lowell Janssen

      This reminds me of my pastor’s meditation reflection last night, as she read the book on perfection by Anna Quindlen. The odd just might be holy.

      • michaboyett

        Love that..The odd as holy. Makes so much sense to me. Jesus was counter-cultural, which is to say, beautifully odd. Right? Thanks.

      • michaboyett

        I love that: Holiness = Oddness. And when we talk about Jesus as counter-cultural, we’re kind of talking about his beautiful oddness, aren’t we? Thanks Heather.

    • Heather Lowell Janssen

      Also, not to rewrite scripture either, but “Be still, and know that I am God” beautifully reinterpreted, is “Cease striving, and know that I am God.”

    • michaboyett

      Yes to the birds in my hair. And the carrots in TJ’s. And the eccentric faith we’re called to. You’re so cool, John.

  • Jenny

    Love this… I came here from Glennon’s mention on FB. I couldn’t agree with you more about blogging. I often question why I want to write about this or that. Or why I want to post something x number of times per week. It is so hard to stay quiet, stay small, stay content with humility. Beautifully written.

  • HissyFits&Happiness

    Awesome… You are right, right in so many ways. As a mommy blogger too, there is an anxiety that constantly eats at me to be more present in the internet community. To be better at writing words. To be a stronger voice for important topics. And the reality is, a mom voice will not be the loudest, at least not every day. I love the mom blog community. Thank you for putting so many incredible thoughts into words. My feeling exactly.

    • michaboyett

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://cindywords.com Cindy

    Art can’t be rushed. Sometimes I think we’ve confused quality with quantity? Thanks for this post. In the wake of the WV scandal, I wrote this post called “Listen to the Silence”. It resonates with your post here.

    “The deepest, most precious parts of our humanity were created to move within certain rhythmic parameters, and they are being crushed by the high speed of social media sound bytes.” http://cindywords.com/listen-to-the-silence/

    • michaboyett

      Thanks so much for sharing this, Cindy. I’m looking forward to taking a look at it.

  • http://marriedinmilesquarecity.com Erika Lenzi

    Thank you for being “a woman who writes a blog about spiritual formation and ordinary life.” We need women like you, singing your song, doing what you are called to do. I need to read about and practice this topic, this kind of life, so keep on writing!

  • pastordt

    Love this. A lot. It’s a tough balance to find, and to keep, isn’t it? (And tell that evil voice to shut the heck up, okay? Your voice is exactly what it should be. Beautiful.)

    • michaboyett

      I’ve been talking to the Inner Critic with as much ferocity as I can muster, Diana! Thank you.

  • Megan L.

    Some people want to shine from the outside in the limelight, others of us are more content to shine on the inside. Keep following your heart and shining brightly, quietly, on the inside <3 http://meaningfulmommy.wordpress.com/

    • michaboyett

      Thanks for stopping by, Megan.

  • http://howtotalkevangelical.addiezierman.com/ Addie Zierman

    Beautiful, friend. xo

  • http://www.tanyamarlow.com/ Tanya Marlow

    Oh, I do so love your words and your heart.
    I have just announced my own ‘blogging sabbatical’ – but I was resisting doing what I knew I needed to for months, because of many of the reasons you said. I’m dancing with the darkness. So far, I’m finding it kinda peaceful.
    Loads a love to you x

    • michaboyett

      Good for you, Tanya. It’s such a hard decision to make. Peace to you in the resting.

    • michaboyett

      Taking a break is so important and necessary sometimes. And also brave! Proud of you, friend. Peace in the resting…

  • http://littledidsheknow.net/ Cara Strickland

    Love this, Micha, and you.
    I’m glad you are here in the blogosphere, if only because I love to talk to you, and to read your words. But I love your heart (and perhaps, that is why I love your words so much).
    Thanks for keeping it real, and for saying this out loud. It is a hard balance, much of the time. xo

  • Katie

    Please, keep writing what you’re writing. With 3 kids under 5 at home, I don’t have the time to follow “The Conversation”-and I suspect that’s a good thing. I do bit by bit make it through what you write though. And I’m blessed by it.

  • Gail

    Micha, there are some posts that make me want to get together with you over coffee and talk about them more. This was one of them. So much good stuff here. Don’t worry, you won’t lose your voice.

  • Marla Taviano

    God’s telling me the same things. Over and over and over until I get it. I’ve almost gotten it. Hugs to you.