I have to admit, I’m struggling to write on here these days. Not that the words aren’t coming – they are. But ever since I left social media two months ago, the traffic here at my blog has been a fraction of what it once was. It turns out that if you aren’t as noisy in this world, you just don’t get the same amount of attention. And it also turns out that my self-confidence is often akin to a soap bubble; low traffic is the happy child chasing the bubble, swinging wildly, popping it.
It helps me to write about this because at first my reaction was, “Well, I guess I need to get back on Facebook and Twitter.” But I don’t feel that my time away from those noisy forums has run its course. I don’t feel that I’ve learned everything there is to learn in this silence, and I know that if I jumped back into social media right now, it would simply be me acting on the same old things I’ve been trying to overcome. Insecurity. A desire to be accepted and praised. A need for some kind of validation.
Those aren’t all bad things. Of course not. But I don’t want them to be the foundation of who I am. I’d like the primary sustenance of my soul to be something more than the acceptance and praise of others. That’s a fickle food source, and one that will, more often than not, leave you high and dry when you least expect it.
I’ve been thinking a lot during the last two months about the value of doing things that don’t make sense, the value of listening to the small voice leading you into new places. It’s a hard voice to follow. But I read this by Richard Rohr and it encouraged me in that regard:
I will continue to encourage you to try something new: change sides, move outside your comfort zone, make some new contacts, let go of your usual role and attractive self-image, walk instead of drive, make a friend from another race or class, visit new neighborhoods, go to the jail or to the border, attend another church service, etc. Then you can live yourself into new ways of thinking, which then seem so right and necessary that you wonder how you could have ever thought in any other way. Without new experiences, new thinking is difficult and rare. After a new experience, new thinking and behavior comes naturally and even becomes necessary.
There is so much to be learned in this life simply by trying something new, even if only for a short time. New thinking requires new experiences, and making a decision about whether or not to try something new isn’t as easy as compiling a list of pros and cons because what we’re talking about is a new experience – one you can’t yet see all the pros and cons for!
So for now I’ll forge ahead in the silence. Thanks for hanging around and journeying through it with me. I hope you’re learning as much as I am.
What new thing are you thinking of trying? Where would you consider making room for silence in your life?
I decided to walk away from my Facebook and Twitter accounts in June (you can read more about that HERE), so this little space of mine depends entirely on you to spread the word. If you read something you enjoy, please share it.
Also, if you’d like to receive my twice-monthly newsletter (basically a few bonus blog posts every month plus information on upcoming books) you can sign up for that HERE.
Finally, I am back on Instagram. Connect with me at shawnsmucker.
8 Replies to “The Value of Doing Things That Don’t Make Sense”
Well – first thing … I’ve personally attributed to the lack of website traffic because I just read your entire blog post within the automated email. And now that I’m on that list, I read each and every one and am encouraged in some way by your transparency and honesty and insight. So I guess I’m a silent admirer and recipient of your words!
Second – the idea of our insecurity and how it relates to social media is a topic I think everyone wrestles with but choose not to admit. I’ve contemplated it a lot lately. The online persona I want people to think that I am. Sometimes I just want to post a rant or a photo that shows how unorganized and messy my life really is.
Third – I don’t know how to currently find more silence, but I’m trying. I think we all need silence … but silence can be scary because our insecurities manifest themselves in that silence. Your words and Don Miller’s words in Scary Close align to the point that I can’t distinguish who said what, but they’ve both been immensely influential in my life. Thanks for that.
Thanks, Jeremy. This is really encouraging to me. And I do understand that a fair amount of people never come over here because they’re reading it via email, which is awesome!
I am a rather quiet reader. I always read your posts but I don’t often comment even though many of them make me stop and ponder a great deal. I wonder if it isn’t to be expected that your spirit is being attacked since you made the decision to step away and listen to that “still, small voice” rather than the noise of the world. I encourage you to keep writing – I think there are more of us out here than you may think. It isn’t always such a bad thing to play to an audience of One. Take Care – keeping you in my prayers.
Thanks for these kind words, Laura. I think that often the most important things we do will prove to be the most difficult.
You are brave to try this, and wise. Not sure I’m willing, but time will tell. I also have so many connections through FB, in particular, that are life-giving and quite deeply spiritual. Go figure. I have done the opposite, I guess. My blog took a back seat during this hectic period of moving and traveling. And that felt right to me, somehow. I’m slowly going back to it and it’s new again, in a strange way. But I want to be thoughtful about it, and careful, too. Time will tell . . .
One thing I’ve learned during this stepping away from Facebook is that I genuinely MISS people from that space, folks who have become good friends through the years, people I’ve never met in person but people I’ve traveled through life alongside. It’s one of the main reasons I see myself going back to Facebook someday.
I’ve enjoyed watching your move, Diana! Perhaps someday we’ll get back out to the West Coast. It would be wonderful to talk in person, face to face.
OK I promise I have only read this post AFTER I rambled to myself on my private blog this morning about ‘being noticed’. Junk food versus soul feeding was my same conclusion in different words.
Your measured gentle insights are always words that mean a great deal to me. Also this quote from someone who tweeted from someone else’s sermon on Sunday has been turning over in my mind since:
“never underestimate the power of speaking to your own soul”
I think you know this importance.
I am also a silent observer I guess, a recent reader of the emails. This one has a couple of thoughts floating to the top of my head. First, identity we get from social media.. or simply from the attention of others. This is something I’ve always avoided to be honest, I’m more the blend into the woodwork type. However the need to be noticed is still always there, even for those like me that have social fears. What I’m finding transformative is that our identity comes from birth. And with our new birth as Christians, we now have a new identity. And our sense of self worth, self esteem, validation, purpose, etc. All of that comes from our Father, (that small voice you speak of) we have no need to try and get that from other people. That leaves us free to simply love on people without expectations.
Also new thinking requires new experiences. A very true statement right there. And another thing that as Christians, we get from Father. First of all the gentle nudge towards new things, and also the courage to step into the new experiences. As one that has always avoided new things as well as social situations, I draw a lot of courage from Father to walk into both of these things in recent years and have found a whole different way of thinking and a whole different experience with Him than I ever had before.
So all of this blabbing to simply say, Thanks for this! And thanks for allowing us the privilege of glimpsing your path.
Comments are closed.