It’s a Blog-Eat-Blog World, Baby (and Imperfect Prose)

I pull my boys close and smell their skin. The leaves are turning outside and plum leather is cooking in the oven. I’ve got piles of spaghetti squash and zucchini on the counter, tomato soup simmering on the stove and Trent, stoking the fire.  

I’ve got everything I want right here, under this roof, until I open up my laptop.

I’m utterly content until I enter the cyber world. A world that makes its millions through views and followers, a world dictated by numbers.

via jadessong on instagram

It’s a missionary’s space, this blogging world, yet it’s also a rat race.

And sometimes, when I’m reading people’s blogs, or scrolling down Facebook’s news feed, I’m scared of what I’ll find.  

I know in my head that I am significant, not because of anything I have done, or written, but because of everything Jesus has done. It’s all him, always. Yet my heart still has to learn it, and it’s learning it slow.

My dad wrote me the morning after Christianity Today announced Jen Hatmaker’s upcoming reality TV show. He told me he believes one day, if I keep blogging, I can have my own show too, but to keep writing for the right reasons, he said.

I don’t want a reality TV show. I really don’t. I love our quiet life.

But still–it would be nice to be asked, I’m sure.

So, how do you write for the right reasons when the goal of publishing and marketing and blogging is to get noticed?

How do you write in humility, in reverence, in servant-hood, while still attracting the crowds and why is finding balance so hard, especially for women? Perhaps because we’re competitive and lonely, wanting both friendship and approval, trying to find our place in a sea of URLs?

via jadessong on instagram


Are we so focused on finding followers that we’ve forgotten Whom to follow? Has humility become taboo? And if so, have we lost the heart of the gospel?

I was driving to town a few weeks ago, feeling especially low, wondering why I wrote and what did it matter when I couldn’t compete with the top-dogs. (Because there will always be someone who’s better or richer or who has more followers–we’ll never win.)

And then I saw a woman who’d been pulled over by the police. And even as I drove past her, I looked at her face and I knew, in that moment that I didn’t write to be the best. I wrote to encourage people like her who’ve had a hard day, who’ve gotten a ticket they can’t afford or whose husband has left them and whose kids are acting out, or who just don’t want to eat anymore.

via jadessong instagram

I don’t write to get views. I write to touch hearts and to change souls and I write because it’s a calling God has placed on my life, and to not do it, would be a sin. I write, because it’s right for me to. And that’s enough.

And yes, things we as Christians say will turn people away. In fact, the Bible tells us we are to expect persecution. We are to be different than the world. Jesus said we will be falsely accused. He said the world would hate us.

Fame is over rated, Emily,” my agent once told me. “Don’t let human recognition be your motivation for your offerings. Your hands will always come away burned.”


via jadessong on instagram

You, my friends, have been given a voice by the Word. He came to earth as a baby who was born in a smelly barn, and was lauded by shepherds–the least of these. He died naked on a cross. Sing to heaven with that voice, shout for all you are worth that Jesus is Lord, and glorify his name with every breath.

 “The way lies through Gethsemane, through the city gate, outside the camp; the way lies alone, and the way lies until there is no trace of a footstep left, only the voice, ‘Follow me.’” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

Stones will be thrown. Followers will be lost.

But if Christ is exalted, your words, friends, will last for eternity.

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51 Comments

  1. Yes, the rat race of blogging can be a lure for us all at times, Em. And maybe I’m a little biased because I just watched it yesterday, but there’s this great documentary called ‘I Am’ that attempts to answer the questions “What’s wrong with the world?” and “What can I do about it?” The proofs outlined in the movie are fascinating and eventually we discover that all this consumer, dog-eat-dog, climb-to-the-top stuff? It’s not what we were created to do and be. It’s not the way our bodies or our minds or our emotions function best. And perhaps blogging is just another place where remembering Who We Are will help us stay free. We are made to connect. We are made to encourage. We are made for empathy and compassion and worship. This is what characterizes life in Jesus – it’s what the Bible says and what the Spirit whispers in our hearts – but sometimes a documentary is just a really darn good reminder.

    So thank you for tackling a difficult, soul-baring topic. And for coming out singing praise.

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    • I LOVE good documentaries. I’m going to look this one up Kelli! Is it on Netflix? Love you…

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  2. Thanks for putting this on the table, Emily. You’re speaking right to the elephant in the room in this blogging world we’ve put ourselves into. The whole numbers/stats/comments/followers craziness threatens to derail us, to eat us alive, to cause us to be envious, to diminish our calling.

    The only place we’re going to get all our endless neediness met is in Christ. Pure and simple.

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  3. I really appreciate this. I prefer your real-ness to any top dog thing. I hope that more people find your blog and your books because then their hearts will be touched. But…and it’s a big but. I don’t want it to affect who you are. I don’t want it to take over your family. If I heard you were going to have a reality TV show I would be scared, because so often fame brings so much heartache with it. I don’t want heartache for you. I love your voice. I’m part way through Chasing Silhouettes and need to tell you how much it is blessing me!!!

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  4. You communicated my heart about blogging. It’s about changed lives for me, glorious transformation when we find our identity in Christ. That makes me jump up and down so much faster than a flurry of views. Love your heart Emily. So glad God saw fit to make us kindred friends.

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  5. So glad you keep writing, Emily. God is in your words!

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  6. Many of us will be able to relate to this, Emily. The last thing we need is to make our blogs into tools of competition. Thanks for reminding us all to write because it’s right for us to. If God isn’t glorified in it, what’s the point?

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  7. How did you know I needed this today? Because I’ve entered a month of blog silence, and I’m scrolling and feeling left out, suffering withdrawal, wondering if my voice will really being missed. And reminding myself of why I’ve stepped back–hopefully to fill so I can spill, so I can serve in this space. But only with His heart, not mine. Love you, my friend.

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  8. You are tops in my eyes, em. Love this so very much.

    Janelle

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  9. The thought of being on a reality TV show makes my stomach hurt. But, I can relate to all the rest. I can see progress in myself in this way, but the temptation to compare is always there. You know what I love about you, Emily? The fact that you can have a million things going on and you still respond to my emails or FB messages. I’d trade the ability to reach out and be friends with a bazillion page views per day, any day.

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  10. Emily – Your words worm their way right to the very core of who I am. I wrestle with them, yet digest them because I know also…too well…that slippery slope that can lead our writing away from obedience…and into caring way to much who responds to our writing. You said it best when you wrote, “Are we so focused on finding followers that we’ve forgotten Whom to follow?” Oh how these words resonate! I don’t want to be, “Just another writer”. I want to be His vessel, His mouthpiece, His reflection as I follow Him by jotting mere words from the overflow of what He puts inside me. Thanks for this reminder friend that it’s all about Him…so, most definitely…ALL about Him!

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  11. Dear sweet Emily
    Thank you for writing on this touchy subject. Yes, we can easily get sidetracked from the real reason we are supposed to write. I think we all have had our own experiences in life where Pappa has Carrie us through and comforted us. We will do well when we keep in mind that He loves it when we use His goodness to comfort and encourage others like you are doing. I am grateful for the privilege to blog for I am housebound and often bed bound with my chronic illness. I also experienced terrible abuse at the hands of church people and I truly have this great desire to help others that went through the same abuse. But when all is said and done, only our Pappa’s must be glorified.
    Much love XX
    Mia

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  12. Thanks for putting this out there, Emily. I need to be reminded of it today and every day. I need to somehow work this concept into a written mission statement for myself so I can refer back to it. Often.

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  13. This is exactly why I quit blogging for a season. I got so caught up in the pursuit, I forgot who I was supposed to be pursuing in the first place. I just forayed back, but this time with new perspective. That I love writing. It doesn’t matter if only one person reads it or if a thousand eventually do. Whatever He uses it for will be good. The pressure is off and it is so, so, so freeing.

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  14. Yesterday one of my girlfriends posted this on my FB page: “Love u! What u do matters in his kingdom.” I choked back the tears and simply said, “Thank you.” You see, I’m a dreamer and lover of life. I love the Lord with everything in me and I love women shortly thereafter, my heart to love them and be a vessel to let His healing pour into them. And I’ve allowed my head and heart to be influenced over the years to believe lies that just because I’ve purposefully backed up and bowed out of the blogging rat race, I’m not making a difference or being used in His Kingdom. A woman who prays earnestly for women wrote me a letter last Spring which said, “God is looking for a nameless and faceless generation who is willing to let Him be the One to receive all the glory…if your heart, ministry, and non-profit is on board with that, you’ll be on the ride of your lives.” And so, I no longer write because it’s a good practice in order to write a book one day. Now I write because of the reasons you stated above…it’s my worship to Him, it’s how I’ve been designed, and in doing it, He and I connect. Why do I keep it in the open as a blog? That’s a good question I’ve asked myself as of late. Especially since I don’t even know if anyone reads anymore, but I keep it “out there” because, just like a song written or sung, it often expresses my heart in words I couldn’t scribe. So, He has challenged me to be faithful to speak His truth in love and trust Him to use it to encourage others…the “who” or “how many” being only HIS business, not mine.

    I love your heart, Emily, and am so very grateful you have shared it passionately and faithfully, no matter if one reads, because your pursuit of Him and your honest sharing of your story has been a catalyst for healing in my own heart. As we are faithful with the little things…this doesn’t mean we’ll ever “see” big things, it’s that we be faithful and trust He sees the bigger picture and smiles at the ripple effects we aren’t allowed to see on this side of eternity!

    Keep going, girl! xoxox

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    • oh Adrienne, this is prophecy, girl. YES. i’ve felt him speaking this to me too: that he desires a nameless and faceless generation. SO hard for a people-pleaser like myself. but it’s all i long for, deep-down. thank you for speaking into my life. i love you and appreciate you so much, friend.

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  15. This is powerful and i needed it. Thank you!

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  16. You, my friend, have a voice that matters. God exalts the humble in His way and His time. Love you so much.

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  17. This is exactly how I’m feeling and what I’m writing about this October. How to love my here and realize that I’m on this earth to do great things, even if I’m never published, never famous, never break 1,000 twitter followers. I think we have similar hearts, I’d ask for a coffee date if only a continent wasn’t between us :)

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  18. Someday you will lay down a crown before our Mighty God because you wrote the words, words,words, and words…God-given words, from a humble heart…lead on sweet sister.

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  19. Emily, I just want to hug you. This is perfect. You know, I’ve struggled with feelings of significance since we moved from ministry in the “cool” city to ministry in a rural, out-of-the-way, way-too-conservative-for-me town. I’ve wondered why. And finally, the other day, my husband said, “You know, I think maybe God just brought us here so we would die. Die to ourselves and our visions of our own importance. We are to be faithful to the vision he sets before us.” Our church-plant will probably be just a garden variety church…but if we faithfully preach the Gospel and its power, that is anything but ordinary! It is mind-blowing and exciting! You do what God calls you to, Em. I love your heart, I really do. Faithful one!

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  20. Emily, I can SO relate. My goal is love and service, but I still am encouraged on days of comments and good stats. And discouraged when it seems that no one notices. Blech.

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  21. Emily, thank you from my heart for your post. What a perspective aligning reminder of why I write. Thank you.

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  22. This is the truth. Somedays I wonder why I bother to continue. And then days like today where I hear from ONE reader that desperately needed to know she wasn’t alone and that someone out there understood her. That’s worth it. That alone. I don’t want a reality show either. But there are things I’d like. And I have to make sure that those things remain as something that encourages but doesn’t become my only reason for writing because then it’s not about Christ. It’s about me. And that’s not what I want. Still, it’s so hard to not be discouraged. Because we all want to matter.

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    • I completely agree with this friend. And I struggle with wanting to be seen and heard too. You are not alone. I think God planted this desire in us to draw us close to him… you are so very loved, sister. xo

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  23. Precious Emily, what a wonderful exhortation and reminder. I often find myself saying out loud when seeing that I have a new ‘follower’ or Facebook fan – “This is such a game!” That is what it feels like sometimes, and this ‘game’ couldn’t be further from the reason that I started blogging. Your encouragement to keep blogging for the right reasons is timely, vital, and invaluable. Thank you my sweet and inspiring friend! xx

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  24. Great post, Emily. We write for Him and that is the right reason. Then He uses our words as needed. Even if for only one person. Thanks for your honest words with which I can so relate. Blessings to you!

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  25. You know I wrestle with this one day in and day out {wrote about it a bit today at my place, too, in fact!}. You write this story right into my heart, Emily. Thank *you*.

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    • heading over to check your post, friend. wrestling alongside you and loving you dearly. xo

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  26. Thank you, Emily. This was just for me (and for others, I know :)). I needed this reminder in the midst of a “low numbers day.” Amen to your heart laid low. It is beautiful.

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    • oh hon. i know those low-numbers days. may our hearts soar so high, may our spirits touch the skies, so we know nothing but contentment in Christ… with you in this friend.

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  27. thank you for this post! it’s encouraging that i’m not the only one who battles that balance. it has to be all about HIM, if not i’m just noise. all of us are.
    loving you always, s

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    • you are definitely not the only one who battles this, friend! you are not alone! there is such strength in community, isn’t there? xo

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  28. I have found myself confused by the temptation in Christian blogging culture to be cool, relevant, and “noticed.” Sometimes even the good things that we do can be done out of insecurity and not from a place of wholeness. Thank you so much for sharing this, something that I and many others can relate to. The internet can be a great place to build relationships and really connect in meaningful ways, but sometimes it is hard to keep that perspective:)

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    • oh friend, i’ve found this confusing too. it’s really been troubling me over the past year, especially. i love your heart. thank you for sharing so honestly. e.

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  29. I read your words here this morning and was so blessed by your heart, Emily. Thank you for sharing. You would laugh at my numbers! ;) What’s the point, I think. But God!! He knows. My heart hasn’t been made to seek numbers, but truth. Not an audience, but an awe for the One who wooed me. And to share the truth, the Word, and the love of Christ in whatever way we can.
    He seems to be impressing this on so many hearts that desire to seek Him, but are wrestling with being unseen. May it be our prayer that we may decrease that He may increase.

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    • oh Rebekah i LOVE your heart, and i long to just seek truth, not numbers… oh friend. yes. he is raising up a generation of men and women who long to be invisible, so that God might be the only one seen…

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  30. Much of my writing has been to encourage me through Him in the challenges – and then, in the blogahood, I found women who shared their hearts and encouraged me in a way that I don’t have where I walk. Maybe numbers are icing on the cake – making it big? Funny – growing up, I didn’t want to be some big famous person. I just wanted to be an everyman – which to me meant having a husband who stuck with you and a family you loved and a community you loved in:) I like how you mention the inner battle – the competitive and lonely – I’ve stopped trying to win the big races where only one person crosses that finish line to learning to be a cheerleader to those who cross my path whether it is through my blog or in the daily – it’s less lonely and much more fulfilling:) Thoughtful post, Emily on any woman’s struggle to fulfill her role:)

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  31. Emily, you have said this well, my friend. I am content until I open my laptop…it is a balancing act this following of our Saviour, our calling, our temptation to compare ourselves to one another which tempts us to stop following our calling….may we learn contentment in this seas of URLs.

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  32. Emily you are a course corrector. Your words nudge me back onto the right path. Peace and blessings to you.

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  33. Emily, thank you for writing this. It provoked good reflection for me. I struggle with the same things you do– likely along with so many others.. I’m passionate about what I write, but I feel that I need to expose my heart (eek!)just a little more to truly encourage those I wish to lift up. Thank you for your example and encouragement!

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  34. Thank you for this post. It really speaks to my heart. And then I went to a biblestudy on 1 Corinthians 3 : “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

    5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.
    How easy it is to want to follow people or want others to follow me when God wants us to be building each other up in love. I want to pray for myself and other Christian to find more ways to come together and build each other up in love.
    have some ideas… will pray and see what God may do..
    Bless you all,
    Susan

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  35. It’s on those days when I think, LOL, she is writing about low number days… I’ve never had high numbers, so what is that point? And then this, “Fame is over rated, Emily,” my agent once told me. “Don’t let human recognition be your motivation for your offerings. Your hands will always come away burned.” And knowing it really isn’t about numbers, or fame, or anything else (really) other than following His bid on our lives. This piece here, it reminds me to keep ticking away at the keys.

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  36. I really needed to hear this today. Thank you so much.

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  37. It is so easy to get caught up in the numbers game. I did exactly that this week, but then I remembered something Jesus said, “If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others.” Matthew 20:26 If we are serving and helping others through our writing, then our blogs are great. No matter what numbers we have.

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  38. Thank you for this! This is in my heart as well. My daily pageview often numbers 1, on a busy day. I wonder…why am I still writing? Resisting the temptation to jump on the popular bandwagon and recreate the blog to standards and specifications set by people instead of God is a brutal battle. Just when I get ready to quit completely, God gives me more words to share. So, until He quits giving me words, I write. It would be ever so easy to close it down and live the sweetly rich life He has given me to live, but those words have to come out. For now, the blog is where they live. The struggle with comparison you speak of is such a ferocious one. How I despise it. Obviously I am still working my way through to a higher level of trust and confidence in the One Who has called me. Thank you for transparency. I truly needed this.

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  39. Just this: “I write to touch hearts and to change souls and I write because it’s a calling God has placed on my life, and to not do it, would be a sin..” Yes. Thank you for so eloquently writing of this struggle and articulating it with such grace. As a smaller blogger there is a temptation to feel marginalized in this number world, but to be given the grace of God is THE gift and anything beyond that, especially to be used by him to impact even one life is what I long for…numbers or not. I’m so with you in this! xo

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