The year 2013 was pivotal for me. That year I decided to become both a mom and a blogger. But I didn’t start out with the goal of being a “mommy blogger.” Initially I started my blog simply because I had a message and I needed an audience. I had recovered from more than a decade of depression, and I wanted to spread hope to others. Eventually I wanted to write a book about my depression and recovery story, but first I simply wanted to get comfortable telling that story.
And I did get comfortable, really comfortable, telling that pre-kids story. I loved writing blog posts about my healing journey. I loved connecting with readers. As an English teacher, I loved writing about writing, and sharing progress on my publishing journey. I loved everything about this new hobby of mine.
Until I became a mom.
If we are committed to blogging (which is to say, we are committed to writing for an audience), it’s our job to find our message. And if we call ourselves Christians, our message should inspire hope and point to Jesus. But as my mom story unfolded, I couldn’t seem to get my head far enough above water to write about anything but my own troubles—much less stay awake to read my Bible most days. In short, I wasn’t inspired anymore, and I didn’t know what to say to inspire others.
For Christians, of course, there is always hope to speak of, but at the same time, the enemy of our souls is always trying to steal our message of hope. In my case, after baby number two, the enemy was drowning me in feelings of doubt and failure as a mom, telling me I should be able to write happy, inspirational things about motherhood. But I wasn’t yet. I was still processing the whole experience, an experience that, while exciting and wonderful, was also painfully confusing.
To back up a bit, in February 2016 my second baby was born, and my book Ending the Pain was published. Suddenly, on the one hand, I was an “expert” on depression and writing; on the other hand, I was fighting to get through every day at home with a baby and toddler. I’m a perfectionist, which often works to my favor in writing, but is not too helpful when it comes to mothering two young children at two different developmental stages.
I was suddenly faced with dozens of daily decisions in which there was no “right,” clear, or easy answer. The result? Paralysis. Hyperventilation. And explosions. I didn’t know what to call it then—later I was diagnosed with anxiety.1 But as life continued in perpetual survival mode, my confusion only grew: What was my Christian message now?
Before I had kids, I found healing from depression through Bible study, prayer, Christian community, and “writing to my roots,” or writing through my losses in life, as well as writing to discover the original plans God intended for me.
Now that I have kids, I have much less time to study the Bible, pray, tend to Christian friendships, or write. But as I’ve blogged through four years of motherhood, I’ve found that writing, perhaps more than anything else right now, keeps me growing in my Christian walk.
In a season of life in which it’s hard to “be still,” the act of writing forces me to do just that. In a season with few sacred spaces, pen and paper provide sanctuary. Even if my writing sessions begin “Oh God, help!” that written cry is a start. To a blog post. To a prayer.
Sometimes I wonder if my public writing is too raw. Too real. Frequently I hit the “publish” button only to cringe and wonder: was that blog “Christian” enough? I wondered this about my 2017 post “A Time to Speak, and a Time to Be Silent.” In that post I was trying to figure out what to speak about at the Iowa-Missouri Conference women’s retreat . . . because I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my “dark” mom story.2
One day after I posted that blog, I got this Facebook message from a reader:
“Oh, Lindsey! Just read your newest post! I know God is using you to speak to me. I know that we’re in different stages of life, but I can still relate and identify with so much of your story (I think it’s the melancholy personality). Thank you so much for bravely sharing these parts of your life with so many of us. It truly does have a positive effect on me, and helps me to remember to seek God in all stages of my life, too. You’re a strong child of God, and it shows.”
Praise God. There, in the words of this reader, was my message as a mom: Honesty in the Christian life is the best policy, even when life is hard. Especially when life is hard. Why? Because, as I’ve seen again and again, honesty begets honesty, begets healing, begets Christian community. I can’t tell you the number of times I have opened myself up to others in writing or otherwise, only to find a “me too!” story on the other end. And that is God’s plan for us: to see and be seen. To hear and be heard. To uplift and be uplifted. After too many years spent in depression, isolation, and silence, I choose God’s plan. And for me, that includes blogging.
If you are considering blogging, or if you just want to experience more Christian community in your life, I advise you pray for God to show you the right audience, and then give you the words He wants you to speak. After five years of Writing to my Roots,3 I can confidently say that when we commit our words (our blogs, our conversation, our communication) to the Lord, He blesses others, and blesses us as well.
Lindsey Gendke is a wife, mother, and writer whose passion is sharing God’s redemptive work in messy lives. Her blog is available at www.lindseygendke.com.