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The Risk of Silence (on NOT blogging this summer)

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I’m not blogging this month. Or next month. It seems that right now, I’ve run clear out of things to say. I’m not blogging because for months I was churning out words furiously, sacrificing too much time with my family, sacrificing rest. And I don’t think it was worth it.

I’m not blogging because blogging culture will never tell me it’s okay to stop. In fact, in the blogosphere, it’s not okay to stop. You must keep producing. You must keep the social media machine well-oiled and shiny. I’m taking a break from blogging because, in a moment of furiously tapping keys while my heart pounded out the rhythm of my to-do list—More articles due! More blog posts to create!—I realized  I was writing out of fear. I was afraid of disappearing. I was afraid of being forgotten.

So I’ve decided to disappear.

I’m disappearing because I need to be reminded that my value doesn’t come from how many sets of eyes scan my words on the other sides of their computers each day. My value isn’t forged in the furnace of retweets or shares or comments. My value isn’t shaped by how much time or effort I give to my work. My worth is not connected to my busyness. (That’s a hard one for me to accept.)

I’m disappearing from my blog for a little while because I realized in a moment of bliss, running through the sprinkler with my kids in the sunshine, that though I think I’ve dug myself into a hole of work, though I think I’m tied to writing 20 hours a week always and forever, I’m actually the one in charge here! I work for myself! I realized that I will not have summers with my sweet babies forever. And I want to ruthlessly cling to them. I want to stay in our pajamas longer than reasonably allowed. I want to bake and go to the pool and read on the couch for as long as possible. I want to clean out closets and simplify. I want to ride bikes and draw on sidewalks.

I want to do those things without a gnawing sense that I should be working right now.

I’m taking a break for a little while because I’ve learned something about myself this year. I’ve learned that one of the reasons I work hard is because I want to be different, unique, valuable. And that motivation can be a dark, prickly thing for a writer on the interwebs. Either my readers esteem my value or they don’t, and either way, I am always craving more praise, more attention.

I am taking a break because each day I believe more and more in the value of silence. I believe Paul was onto something in 1 Thessalonians when he instructed the church to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” Even those of us who write for a living need time built into our lives to consume words, to marinate thoughts, to rest our minds. And once those thoughts have rested, they’re ready to come forth again. Our stories must be planted, watered, sprouted, before they are full grown and ready to be told.

Let this summer be my holy protest of silence. Because each day in the monastery is divided into the Divine Hours of prayer, and every hour of prayer has a unique purpose. In the evening, before bed, monks and nuns quiet their hearts and quiet their bodies. They rest their minds and sleep in their beds. They seal their lips from dusk till dawn. They call it the Great Silence.

Silence is a risk. What if I wake up next week with something great to say? What if all my readers find a new blogger to follow and never make time to return my direction?

It is a risk. Perhaps, though, desperate words are more of a risk. If I keep writing out of fear, will I ever find the words I’m meant to say? If I’m too afraid to trust God with my own rest, how will I learn to trust God with my work?

I’m off to learn some quiet, friends. I’ll be back, promise. And I’ll tell you all the things that grew in the silence.