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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )


I never find it difficult to begin anything, having been born into the breed of people cursed by their over-ambitions. As Ryan once aptly said of me, I've never met an idea I haven't liked. I can be made to easily overlook obstacles and am prone to over-estimate my capacities. You can imagine the trouble this gets me into. Consider last summer's failed garden project. I am a woman who hates to water and hates to weed, and I know this about myself. But inevitably, every year when the weather turns warm and the children beg to do some planting, I convince myself that this summer will be different. I will abandon my characteristic habits of neglect. And of course, falling prey to my usual zeal (and stupidity), I buy an inordinate numbers of vegetables, flowers, and herbs, congratulating myself the day the kids and I get them in the ground. For a week, we water faithfully. I soon forget my resolutions. Last summer, we harvested 5 tomatoes from our seven tomato plants. I wish only the raccoons were to blame.

Having my track record for spectacular beginnings and half-hearted finishes, I have to remind myself with some consistency why it is I'm blogging. Easily, this blog could become a project I begin and let languish in my characteristic style.

I am blogging predominantly because I felt called to. I don't really like using the language of "calling," feeling it to be a slippery word, which makes presumptions that we can know with certainty when God is speaking to us. To say I felt "called" to blog does not necessarily mean that I experienced some kind of emotional epiphany or heard an audible voice confirming this as a God-project. In many ways, it was a decision that I made somewhat impulsively, and the reasons for blogging have only really emerged as I've done it.

Initially, I began blogging as a means to fix my attention. I wanted to go deeper with God, and I felt intuitively that I would need to change my spiritual practice for that to happen. Reading has long been a practice on which I've regularly depended: reading the Scriptures first and foremost, as well as reading other helpful books. And the habit of reading is critical, I believe, one that Ryan and I are trying to develop into our children. We have filled our home with books and conversations about books. But like many other good things, reading can fall prey to corruption. For how it fosters a dependence on knowing, reading can become a means of control. And for the ways we read casually and superficially, without taking the time to engage ideas and explore their implications, we can trend towards passivity.

Writing is becoming a way for me to step out of this passivity and lethargy. Blogging gives me a real audience for the careful thinking and writing I'd like to challenge myself to do. And I'm finding that there are discoveries I am making about myself in this whole process. What's coming to light are my own particular vulnerabilities and methods of resistance. How I write is actually becoming a way for understanding who I am.

I've come to see how much I rely on feelings to do and continue doing the things I know to be good. This is true in my spiritual life; this is also true for my writing. I want my thunderbolts, and I need the Muse. Feeling "flat," whether as a Christian or as a writer, is nothing I face easily. The blog is good for this reason if only it keeps me plodding along when I feel I have nothing to say and no business saying it.

And I suppose that's something that calling does for all of us. It can keep us grounded in the realities of what it is God purposes for our lives, despite the ways we don't often "feel" like doing what He asks and don't "feel" as if we're accomplishing anything that grand.  Calling can roots us in our individual ventures of faith and draw us back to depending on Jesus. Calling is gospel-oriented: it will necessarily expose the ways we are unworthy and inadequate for anything to which we have been called.

Father, by your grace, sound Your calling in our lives.

Let us not live by the exercise of our common-sense.

Instead, help us to attend Your voice.

Grant us courage and steadfastness for the following.

Deepen our dependence on Jesus, that the work we do evidence not our talents but display your glory.

Work your will of holiness and wholeness in our families, our churches, our communities.

Let us not continue believing we are needed for this work,

Yet, in your mercy, grant us the joyful participation in it.