In Need of a Conversation

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I know why I started blogging, but I don’t know why I keep blogging.

The old computer moved up to my bedroom. Don’t worry, my parents weren’t being naive about a young boy having a computer in his bedroom. I’m old enough that not every computer was magically connected to the interwebs. The only computer in the house connected to the internet was the new computer in the family room connected through an external dial-up modem.

I remember sitting at that computer in my room, Bible on my lap, fully prepared to write a storified version of the life of Jesus because in my sophomore-in-high-school-mind, that didn’t exist yet. (Yes, my Bible was open to a gospel. No I did not get it.)

Even then I wanted to write. It’s not that I enjoyed writing, but it called to me. I felt compelled to put word to page despite the fact that it made me tired and I never completed anyth….

I studied Chemistry in college as a pre-med student. The writing of one who majors in a physical science consists of outlining what was done in the lab. “2 mL of hydrochloric acid were titrated into the solution” was as complex a sentence as I ever wrote in college. Even now, I still have difficult writing a sentence with more than one clause, lest it become a sordid run-on sentence, exposing the sheer ineptitude of my ability to write the English language and embrace this thing that seemed to be calling to me from beyond the lab goggles and graphing calculators, into a world where I would sin in my use of syntax.

Honestly, I don’t even know what the hell syntax is, let alone a participle left dangling.

I started blogging because I have learned that I need to write. It is how I clarify my thinking. Even when I prepare my sermons, I have to write nearly all of it out. You would never guess that when you see me ranting in the pulpit, but the process of writing solidifies my thoughts. The words on the screen provide me with a moment where I say, “Oh, that is what I think.”

So I started a blog. And I wrote. And I thought. And it was good.

Then people started reading. The attention my little blog has gotten in the last year has been surprising and fun. I could say it has been humbling, but that would be a lie. It has stroked my ego and made me feel good. It has opened up a world for me that, in all honesty, I fully enjoy. I don’t say that to brag, but to be truthful. I think it is privilege that so many people read and connect to what I say and think, and I don’t take that for granted. There is a deep desire to steward this really well.

So I keep writing. I try and get better at the craft. Maybe someday I’ll even figure out how to use a semi-colon.

But is that enough?

The other day a good and trusted friend asked me the question, “Why do you write? Is it to promote you, or something else? Because if it is something else, then I am not sure what it is.”

Everybody needs friends like this in their life. Who else would we kick in the shins?

It would be easy to just go on with life and do the next thing in front me.  That’s our approach to life so often. We do the next good thing and the next good thing until the next good thing isn’t a good thing but an exhausting thing. We just take life as it happens and we don’t consider why we do what we do. We don’t ask the hard questions about purpose and role and intention. We don’t stop and look at the direction things will take us if they continue on at the same pace in the same way. So I’m asking some questions.

Better yet, I need a conversation.

Because I have more questions than answers and the world doesn’t need me to ask all the questions and supply all the answers.

What I know is what I believe. And I believe that God has invited us to participate with him the restoring creation. God has given his word to this restorative work, and we have opportunities to add our word to God’s word and co-create a new reality. And I’m not sure how building a platform and writing a book and maintaing a blog fits into that. I’m not saying it doesn’t, but I’m just not sure how it does.

I have these questions about a lot of things actually. I preach often about joining God in mission, and missional living, and co-creating and all these beautiful and wonderful things that I fully believe. But when I look at my life, I have to admit that my belief is much more cognitive than it is function. Getting honest about that forces the question, “Do I really believe this, or do I just passionately like the idea?”

Do you ever feel the gulf between what you say you believe and what you functionally believe might as well be the Milky Way?

The truth is, we will never close the gap between those two types of beliefs unless we get honest about how we live and how we believe. Change will occur only when we tell the unapologetic truth tellers about ourselves. And in order to tell the truth we have to confront the fear and shame we have that people will see us as hypocrites if we get honest about that. The truth is, people will see us as hypocrites quicker if we don’t get honest about that. People have ears and they hear your words, and they eyes and see your actions. People aren’t dumb and can tell quite quickly if what you say doesn’t match what you do.

So maybe, together, we can figure this out. I’ll keep writing. We’ll keep talking. And we’ll do the hard work of making what we talk about and pray about here, a reality out there in the real world.

photo credit: mugfaker via photopin cc

  • David Williamson

    “Do I really believe this, or do I just passionately like the idea?”

    Oof. What a gut-punch question. There are days I have to wonder which is really the case in my life. Because I *do* passionately like the idea… But that’s not enough.

    • http://www.natepyle.com/ Nate Pyle

      Thanks for being honest about that, David.

      I think the power is in the admitting it. At least that is what I am hoping!

  • http://beingperfectlyhuman.blogspot.com/ Eric Fry

    “Even now, I still have difficult writing a sentence with more than one clause, lest it become sordid run-on sentence, exposing the sheer ineptitude of my ability to write the English language and embrace this thing that seemed to be calling to me from beyond the lab goggles and graphing calculators, into a world where I would sin in my use of syntax.”

    Read more Jaroslav Pelikan… ;)

    • http://www.natepyle.com/ Nate Pyle

      More?! I’d have to start with some…and with googling him. ;)

      • http://beingperfectlyhuman.blogspot.com/ Eric Fry

        Hence the original problem… :D

  • Natalie

    Not like I can offer you any advice as a newer Christian myself, but I would just like to let you know that many of your blog posts have helped me to open my mind and think in a more productive way about following Christ!

    • http://www.natepyle.com/ Nate Pyle

      Thank you, Natalie. So glad you’ve found it all helpful.

  • Meg

    “It would be easy to just go on with life and do the next thing in front me. That’s our approach to life so often.We do the next good thing and the next good thing until the next good thing isn’t a good thing but an exhausting thing. We just take life as
    it happens and we don’t consider why we do what we do. We don’t ask the
    hard questions about purpose and role and intention. We don’t stop and
    look at the direction things will take us if they continue on at the
    same pace in the same way. So I’m asking some questions.”

    Thank you for being willing to ask the hard questions Nate. That’s exactly why yours is one of the few blogs I read, because you don’t deal in platitudes and cliches. You deal in the hard questions of life and faith with honesty and transparency. You call it as you see it, even if that means calling it Bullshit. Please keep writing, keep asking, keep being thoughtful in what you write, keep the conversation going. Keep listening to those God puts in your path and hear their stories, questions and struggles, the ones that you will never see on any blog. Keep being honest, and vulnerable and keep sharing with us God’s truth and grace as He reveals them to you, for as long as he allows you.

    • http://www.natepyle.com/ Nate Pyle

      Thank you, Meg. You are very kind, and I’m glad my questions have helped you.

  • http://quackling.wordpress.com/ QL

    I like this post, and your friend’s question. People who write write about all sorts of things but not very often about why they write! It’s good to reflect on our motives before God.

  • Alexa

    I read your blog because it IS a conversation. Your ability to be vulnerable and admit that things (mortal and spiritual) at times make you uncomfortable, confused or unsure is refreshing and desperately needed. By asking questions and proposing possible thoughtful alternatives to those questions you make it okay for others to explore their relationship with god and other human beings. The blogosphere over-saturated with myopic “my way or the highway” agendas being shouted at people with no invitation, let alone room for discussion. We need to have conversations and be willing answer questions.
    Questioning why we do things is so important because we need to uncover if we are feeding our own egos or creating new demons with our online activities. I personally have to question why I share certain things online to make sure I’m not trying to be right, trying to be admired…or TRYing to be anything other than honestly and authentically who I am. ( I am sharing now because I want you to know I appreciate the space you have opened for conversations) You inspire me to show up, be thoughtful, be vulnerable, be authentic and be willing to ” take one in the chest” for who I really am and also to apologize for whom I have chosen to be if I chose to be something other than authentic.

    • http://www.natepyle.com/ Nate Pyle

      I cannot say thank you enough, Alexa. This comment means so much to me, because it is exactly what I have hoped for this blog.

      Thank you.

  • http://www.michaelhadley.org/ Michael Hadley

    This. Just…this is what I wish I would see more of. I feel as if we’ve moved from conversation to defending and attacking. I want to share something with you I learned a couple weeks ago. All too often in Christianity we look for the big thing of right now and then look for the next big thing that is similar. When in reality we should be looking for the next NEW thing God is going to be doing. I’m definitely on this journey with you, to try and figure out what….all this is about. Grace and Peace my friend.