Entering into my fourth year in college back in the fall of 2009, I thought I should do something different. I had been writing Facebook notes for a number of years prior to that year, but felt the need to take my writing elsewhere. After some mechanical mishaps with Blogger.com, I posted my first blog on WordPress.com, thus beginning Cushman’s Chronicles.
Of course, though, I was alive for 22 years before this day in 2009, so this blog hasn’t really been a chronicle of my life in the strictest sense. But it has been a place where the public has been able to see my past being processed as I move forward with God and with life. It has been a place where I’ve shared my fears and failures, tears and heartaches, but also my laughter and joy. Reflecting back on this journey I’ve had with God, blogging has been a major part of it all.
Writing, in general, has been a major element to my walk with the Lord, but blogging has added something to it. Ever since the spring term of my freshman year, I’ve kept a digital journal on my laptop. Set at 9 point font, single-spaced, with half-inch margins in Times New Roman, I’ve accumulated over 700 pages of events (big and small), emotions, and downright boredom. And with the exception of a handful of people, no one has ever read any of that stuff.
What blogging does is force me to share my thoughts in a way that might be understandable to someone who doesn’t know me. Of course this means I’ve had plenty of conversations with myself as I sound out my words a little more carefully so that I minimize the amount of confusion (keyword: minimize). What’s also included – in fact, required – in a journal-esque blogging style is vulnerability.
In my non-fiction creative writing class in the spring of ’09, we were taught to ask ourselves “What does this piece cost me?” In other words, what do I share with my audience of roughly 900 people or more (between Facebook & Twitter) that is rather private information – or at least information that surrenders a large part of my pride? Of course, this is also honesty, but sometimes you can be honest with people and never show any sense of vulnerability. And if there’s no vulnerability, there will never be humility.
In a way, blogging has been a tangible practice of keeping me accountable – to God and to the people who read my words. If I write in here about how I constantly live a perfect Christian life, but then go from WordPress to a porn site, I would not be honest with my readers. And if a practice like this kept going for some time, I’d start to lose all sense of God’s presence. As far as I’m concerned, a life without God is no life at all.
No, it doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to share every failure I’ve ever committed – I think I’d have twice as many blog posts if it did. But what it does mean is that when I’m sharing my thoughts on God and how we’re supposed to walk with Him, I’m very much aware of my own humanity and my own tendencies to mess things up. It’s taken some time to develop – much longer than it should – but it’s there. It isn’t complete by any means, either, but it’s there.
What this has looked like in actual practice – this being vulnerable thing – is that when I talk about desiring marriage through what feels like a long season of solitude, I’m more than aware of those who’ve had longer seasons of being single. Or when I talk about more controversial subjects such as inerrancy and reveal how it’s not a major doctrine in my walk with God (not even a little), I’m more than aware of those who value inerrancy – who have a stronger faith in God because of it. In a way, writing for this blog has enabled me to see another’s perspective – much more than before.
When I first started this blog, I didn’t have much of a goal. I knew I wanted people to read my thoughts on a lot of different things, but I didn’t really have any agenda with it all. I just wrote. Over the years, though, it’s been my goal to write a message with each post. Like a sermon? Kind of. I think it’s more like a sermon that is publicly shared, but intended for myself. It’s a public window into my more personal moments with God.
Obviously, this can’t be done very effectively if I’m not out living a normal life – gathering with the church, praying with fellow brothers and sisters, and serving in other ways apart from writing. But like each of those things (prayer, fellowship, ministry), blogging requires commitment. Not only do I have to sit down and write out the post, but I have to edit it. Sometimes I may even have to rewrite it. As a byproduct, though, it’s caused me to become more diligent and disciplined in my private studies of Scripture and prayers with God.
Blogging hasn’t saved my life. I wasn’t on a dark and lonely road heading directly into depression when I typed up my first post. But there have been quite a few moments where blogging – sitting down to publicly share a personal part of my life – has kept me moving forward, toward God. There have been moments where I felt so guilty and ashamed of the things I had done that I wanted to give up entirely and walk away – from God, from church, from everything. And then I sat down, started typing some words in my journal, and received a blog idea as I typed. From there, once I started blogging, I was back on track.
Writing for this blog – and by extension anyone who reads this – has challenged me in ways I had never dreamed of. And I imagine and hope that it will for many more years to come. God knows that a lot of my emotions and fears and thoughts would still be pent up inside of me if I hadn’t started sharing them with the world. So on this blog’s third birthday, I’d like to thank all those who have read and/or continue to read the stuff I write. Sharing what’s in my baggage with you all has been, in many ways, therapeutic.
Thank you and God bless.