Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Best Policy

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Then Heather Said, "Honesty is the best policy"
Earlier this week, Ryan wrote a wonderful, thought provoking post about the honest lives of bloggers, specifically healthy living bloggers. As I read it, I found myself questioning my level of honesty on my own blog.

From the beginning I’ve shared that my desire for Then Heather Said is to be genuine and open about my life since the broken engagement. I find that being honest with my readers ensures that I am being honest with myself. While I do talk about my health[ier than before] lifestyle, I don’t know that I would classify my blog as a “healthy living blog” [although, I’m not sure what I WOULD classify it as, either.] Yet, after reading the post Ryan wrote, I couldn’t help but question my own levels of honesty on Then Heather Said.

How much of a fence do I put up on what I am going through?
How often do I avoid writing about specific subjects and why do I avoid it?
Where do I draw the “that’s too personal to share” line?
Do I try and present myself to appear a certain way to my readers?
What have I been hiding? Where do I need to come clean?

When I worked in Youth ministry in Texas, I often had to defend myself and my desire for genuine honesty within my ministry work. I am not perfect, and nor was I back then; and I knew it. The last thing I wanted was for the high school students I was mentoring to see me as someone they should try to live up to; I didn’t want to be idolized in any way, I wanted my life to point to Christ.

I remember certain people having a problem with my honesty with students back then.

Sometimes I would share during small group what I personally was struggling with and areas in which I needed prayer.
Sometimes with my interns, we would discuss my weaknesses, and the lessons I’d learned that may help them with where they were.
Sometimes I would share stories of mistakes of my past and days I wish I could take back.

I was open, I was truthful, and I was relatable. I was available to be vulnerable to these high schoolers. I never wanted to appear to “have it all together” and know exactly how to handle every situation. I never wanted to fool them into thinking I always did the right thing, and never hurt or never wanted more or never felt insecure or alone or confused. It was important to me that they knew my story and knew that I still question God daily, and that this was an okay place to be. A good place to be, even.

I myself have fallen to the point of thinking a leader was someone to “be just like”. And not because the leader was trying to coral people into a “following” but more because I saw something in them that I couldn’t accurately describe, and wanted in my own life. This is a dangerous place to tred- idolatry & coveting the personality/dedication/lifestyle of people you admire. And not just as a believer/follower of Christ/Christian- but in day to day life. Gaining inspiration from, being motivated by, and admiring positive qualities in others is safe. Trying to model your life exactly after another individual is dangerous. To sound a bit clichĂ©- If we were all the same, the world would be boring. Our uniqueness is beautiful and we should embrace that. [operation beautiful plug, much?]

I think a lot of times, leaders, in church and other places, feel they need to live up to a certain standard and hide the hard stuff, the dark stuff, the rough stuff. And perhaps this happens in the blog world too. I don’t want to sound whiny. I don’t want to sit in negativity and make it seem like I think the world is against me. I don’t want to complain or appear to be mean or judgmental or rude or ignorant [bliss or no bliss].

It’s a fishbowl affect. When a person steps into leadership, of almost any kind- warranted or not, their lives become a fishbowl and the world watches. Leadership is a kind of popularity, and popularity a kind of leadership. This is definitely true in the church scene, in politics- national or local, in Hollywood, in corporations/offices around the world, and perhaps even in blog-land. How often do we hear it from opposing sides during an election, in our own social circles, and in the aftereffects of a “Hollywood scandal”- do you think Miley is ever going to live down her “being a role model” and taking photos in a sheet or dancing with a pole at an award show?

When people are looking, it’s hard to be honest. It’s hard to say, “I’m not as cool/smart/put together/healthy/dedicated/optimistic as you think I am.” And maybe, as bloggers, we shouldn’t have to, truthfully.

Do I want to read the blogs written by bitter people who complain all the time, of course not. And I truly believe that my blogging through the pain helped me to STAY (and often just be) optimistic about my life when I was broken hearted. When I didn’t always feel strong, knowing that I would report my emotions to readers helped me to become strong, and to find the strength that was within me.
The same goes for work outs and eating good food. Many healthy living bloggers have mentioned that posting meals online every day keeps them accountable to not OVER DOING the indulgences and keeping up with their exercise. The blog community is the best accountability I’ve yet to experience- encouragement to just put my shoes on and run, to take a break when I need to, and a reminder not to do too much too fast. [seriously. You bloggers are amazing. Thank you for keeping me motivated on days I want to be lazy.] Perhaps our “blogging attitude” helps our “reality attitude” stay more positive.

All things considered- my favorite blogs are written by people who aren’t afraid to share their faults and their struggles- and push past them. They don’t whine about the world being against them, and they don’t pretend that life isn’t hard. They discuss their fears and open their lives to the world [wide web] and face the negative comments as they come- with strength and dignity and grace and keeping their heads held high.

Then Heather Said, "Let's be honest."

So for the last day or so, I’ve been thinking about things that Then Heather HASN’T Said, and decided that perhaps I should come clean on a few things- not because I have to, but because I want to; for allowing myself to be honest with you, I am most honestly facing myself. So just a few quick notes about, well, life.

-Sometimes, I still think about how I would of/could of/should have been married. In reality, my brain AND my heart know that my former fiancĂ© SAVED MY LIFE the day he called off the wedding; I didn’t marry the wrong guy, I didn’t make a big mistake, I didn’t miss out on my future as it will be now- but I still think about it. I think about it when I am making dinner for just one, and when I have no one to go to the movies with, and when I see something at Target that I would like to come home and leave on the table for him, just because. And I thought about it a lot the day I sliced open my hand carving a pumpkin.

-I’m not going to church. [and I know my former pastors have and can read my blog. And I know my former students have and can read my blog. And I know my former ministry partners have and can read my blog- and perhaps all these reasons are why I haven’t said much about this- or Jesus, at all.] I’ve allowed myself to be offended by people in the church in the past, and I fear those feelings again. I’ve tried going to a few services- at my old church in the area, at churches I’ve never visited before in the area. And I feel like I’m suppose to say “I know I should be going to church” - but I'm not saying it- because that's not how I'm feeling. I love Jesus. So much. And perhaps this is a post for another day- but I am having a hard time with church. Maybe it's because the former fiance and I met in ministry. Maybe it's because so much of our relationship revolved around the church and so much of our lives were imbedded in church. Or maybe not. I just know I don't want to go. I don't want to go back to my former church again, not yet [my former fiance is currently working there] and I definetely don't want to go church shopping. I am happy spending my Sunday mornings on the trail, praying as I run. [and if we are being completely honest, which i am, i'm not really praying too much lately, either.]
-a follow up to all that? I am questioning more than ever before. But i don't really want answers. I just want to question.
-I am strong and independant and I love living alone and getting to make my own agenda every evening. But I am lonely. I miss having a bunch of friends to do things with through out the week. I miss having a jam packed schedule. I miss hosting dinner parties and game nights and meeting for coffee or dinner. I miss having peers that I called my friends.
-There are 100 places I'd rather live- but I know it's not the time. I love my apartment. I love my village. I love my job. But I love St Paul. I love Madison (my favorite small city of ALL TIMES). I love Boston. and I especially love my parents and wish i could wake up in their house every day. A friend recently suggested I move to Denver, another to Durham, NC, and another back to Southeast Texas (yeah- that's NEVER going to happen- sorry ladies.) I love having people tell me I should move near them because it makes me feel loved. I love hearing it because it's something to dream about. I love hearing it because I am alone 6 out of 7 nights of the week. But I am here, in a small little village tucked in the Capital District of NY for a reason, i'm sure of it, and in the words for Tim Gunn, I will "make it work."
-I struggle daily with one thing or another. I define myself in words I hope to be. I run 4-5 days a week and I still have trouble calling myself a "runner". My apartment is a mess and I have only half unpacked from Boston. I still compare myself to others every single day, even though I preach not to do so. I keep replying "no" to wedding rsvps because I am too poor to travel, and also, because I am too afraid of what my heart will feel like as I watch her walk down the aisle. Even though I know it's better this way. I keep asking myself when I will feel okay enough to watch that ceremony? I'm terrified of letting the people I love the most down. I have problems asking for help. I wish I had a computer. And also some cheese fries. and i think my feet are way too big. and I asked for Thursday off from work so I could watch Greys.
Honestly. That's me.
Do you relate? How do you feel about my thought that "Leadership is a kind of popularity, and popularity a kind of leadership. This is definitely true in the church scene, in politics- national or local, in Hollywood, in corporations/offices around the world, and perhaps even in blog-land. " ? Do you think bloggers face the same kind of critism in the blogging community that other popular leaders do?

3 comments:

  1. Fabulous post Heather! Thank you for the follow-up discussion on my thoughts :) I'll be sure to add a link to it in my next post.

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  2. What a great post! Thank you for your honesty; I think almost all healthy-living bloggers are leaders!

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  3. Wow! I really love this post! I'd love to hear about your time spent working in ministry, I am really struggling with that right now.

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