But do I really believe in what I am writing?
It is incredibly easy for those who write blogs to sound off on all kinds of issues and for it not to connect much to the actual life they are living. It’s no coincidence that the difference between ‘blogger’ and ‘blagger’ is just one letter.
A time of real change
A few years ago I was challenged by seeing my next door neighbour’s commitment to Ramadan. Since then Lent has taken on a far deeper significance for me. I want it to be a time of real change in my life.
This year, I want to use Lent to change the daily rhythm of my life, which continues to be just a little too hectic. I have been reading Henri Nouwen’s beautiful book The Way of the Heart which I picked up in a charity shop for £1.50. Nouwen writes about how a damaged sense of identity can feed compulsive activity:
‘The false self is the self which is fabricated by social compulsions. “Compulsive” is indeed the best adjective for the false self. It points to the need for on-going and increasing affirmation. Who am I? I am the one who is liked, praised, admired…what matters is how I am perceived by the world.
If being busy is a good thing, then I must be busy. If having money is a sign of real freedom, then I must claim my money. If knowing many people proves my importance, I will make the necessary contacts. The compulsion manifests itself in the lurking fear of failing and the steady urge to prevent this by gathering more of the same – more work, more money, more friends.’
Nouwen was writing in 1981 but his diagnosis is even more relevant in today’s internet age where what we choose to share online easily creates a ‘false self’ unless we are careful. His book unpacks the wisdom of the ancient Christians who sought solitude, silence and prayer and thus resisted the strangling conformity and complusions of the world.
Resistance leads to renewal
So for this year’s Lent, I have decided it’s time to cut back my online activity and take a break from writing on R&R and also from facebook and twitter.
I am not giving these things up because they are a bad thing. It is more because I recognise the potential they have to become too consuming. Also, more positively, time not spent online will give me a bit more space for other important things such as reading, reflection and renewing proper contact with old friends.
But the deeper reason is that I need to make time and space to retreat into God. I need to spend more time in solitude, silence and prayer. And unless I am intentional and committed about it, it won’t happen.
So will cutting back on online activity help my soul? Will resistance lead to renewal? I’ll tell you at Easter…