Why I Stopped Blogging (And Why I'm Starting Back)

I stopped blogging because I tired of telling.

I stopped blogging because I wrote more than I read and said more than I heard.

I stopped blogging because I want to be gentle and quiet, and because the voice of the blogger is rarely that.

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Two years ago I started writing a book about clothes and God. I wrote eight or nine chapters and a book proposal. I didn’t sell the book.

That’s okay.

During the year and a half I devoted to the book, I learned and grew in surprising directions. Who knew writing about clothes would mean exploring grief and loneliness and love? Who knew I’d end up neck-deep in Bible, challenged and convicted by words speaking to the daily details of my life?

One passage in particular crawled up inside me, sandpaper scripture rubbing away at my heart:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment… Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

I know inner beauty is more valuable than outer beauty. After this long season of study and transformation I know it in my bones.

What is harder to process, harder for me–Jennifer Gerhardt, speaker and writer, loud-talker and over-sharer, defensive captain of the flag football team–is the “gentle and quiet” part.

My mom spoke at a lecture series recently. I stood beside her when she opened the letter assigning her topic. She grimaced, handed it to me and said, “Don’t laugh.” I read the words “gentle and quiet” and I did laugh. Loudly. Like I remember my grandmother laughing. Like my mom fake laughs (you should see her really laugh; it’s the super-wheezy, I-can’t-breathe kind. Awesomeness).

Anyway, we’re loud. It’s genetic.

I know Peter isn’t talking about my loud laugh when he says to be quiet. I know he isn’t asking me to turn down the saturation of my life. I know he isn’t telling me to shut up ’cause I’m a woman. I know what he’s asking (at least I think I do) and I haven’t been able to look him in the eyes because I haven’t been ready to listen. Until recently.

Four months ago I deemed 2013 “The Year of Gentle and Quiet”–a year of submission to the people I love, a year of not answering every question in Bible class, a year of compassion, a year of thinking before I volunteer my unfiltered opinion, a year of listening to what other people would say if only I didn’t speak first. In keeping with the spirit of the theme, I avoided fanfare and buried the press release.

In an effort to live this out in a reorienting way I decided to (among other things) stop blogging. I’d cut back already, feeling more and more conflicted about my self-constructed platform. I posted only three or four times a month in 2012. I haven’t posted anything original in 2013.

My problem with blogging is that so often it’s loud.  Bloggers grab our attention with over-simplified, falsely provocative titles. They blast opposing viewpoints in order to lift up their own (instead of acknowledging complexity and nuance). Blog comment sections read like shouting matches.

Not all blogs work that way, but a lot do. Especially the ones written by and for Christians.

The idea for 2013 was to embrace literal quiet, and it was a good idea because literal quiet leads to a deeper spiritual quiet. It was a good idea because I needed to listen-–to God and to people and to the unbloggable thoughts in my heart.

I liked not blogging. I liked the stillness.

I talked to my husband the other day about not blogging and about how easy it was to step away (no late nights at the computer, fewer wrestling matches with scripture and my conscience, no worries about other people and the way they might respond to my stuff). I told him too, though, that I had so many things I wanted to write about, how I didn’t have a place for those things and I worried I’d lose them, that they’d drift away like neglected birthday balloons shrinking in a blank blue sky. I worried that I might be like the guy in the parable of the talents who has a gift but doesn’t use it because he’s afraid he’ll use it the wrong way and then ends up forfeiting the gift.

I said, “I don’t want to be a pushy, loud-mouthed, self-important blogger. But I don’t want to bury my talent either.”

Then Justin, my husband and personal Dalai Lama, reframed everything. He told me to stop thinking about whether or not to blog. Instead, he told me to ask this question:

“How would a gentle and quiet spirit blog?”

Not, “Is blogging gentle and quiet?” But “Could blogging be gentle and quiet?”

Because we can’t just stop doing everything we might get wrong. Right?

So this is the question I’ve decided to answer over the course of this year (and for the foreseeable future).

Literal quiet is relatively easy. For me, it’s become a cop out–-an excuse to avoid the complicated calling I’ve been given. Sure, it’s hard to navigate the thorny territory between loud and quiet, between self-serving and God-serving, between pushy and helpful, but I think it’s worth a shot.

Blogging is complicated.

I started back because I want to do it right.