I’ve never been a fan of New Years resolutions. Usually, I think they are silly and contrived and poorly stuck to, which makes them more for entertainment than anything else. However, I’m at a stage in life where I’m learning to appreciate structure over my free-floating fancy. I’ve found though that ramming a stake in the ground and planting my feet firm and girding the loins for action is sometimes necessary. Every once in a while I need to take definitive action with a get ‘er done, no-if-ands-or-buts sort of attitude.
2012’s resolution was birth a baby naturally. God bless Doctor Bradley. Check.
2013’s goal was no more sunburns. Considering my awesome farmers tan? Check.
And here we are, fresh into 2014 and there has been something murmuring inside me for a while now that has needed the right spark to ignite into flame. The summary is: reign in the influence of social media.
Sometime in the last year, the cell company MTN put in a tower in Fimpulu. I feel like our tiny village jumped about a gazillian rungs up the development ladder with the simple flip of a switch. We went from communicating via bush notes and having no idea what was happening in the world, to calling the guy next door and google-ing everything.
Organizationally for Choshen Farm, and personally for me, the advent of connectivity has opened so many possibilities. I can respond to e-mails and blog and research from the comfort of home instead of hurriedly pushing through my internet to-do list from the back seat of the Land Rover while Jeremy drives around town picking up hard-ware supplies and groceries. I can’t even remember how many times Jeremy, having finished the errands already, would idle the Landi at the edge of the cell-reception zone, ready to head out of town as soon as I hit “publish” or “send.” I also can’t remember how many times I cried half the way home, having taken care of business, but having run out of time to check my personal inbox or to see pictures of so and so’s wedding. Such rushed and sparse connectivity made me feel terribly lonely and isolated. Being able to scroll on my phone and see faces and hear “voices” has brought friends and family so much closer and I’m very thankful for that.
But as is the case with many blessings in our lives, the gift of internet is also a two-edged sword. You, dear people, are so much more accessible… but so is everyone – and everything – else. I can now read unlimited blogs and articles and sermons. I can check my facebook news feed every five seconds. I can find the answer to any question – even the completely not important ones – without delay. All of the interesting news, hot debates, insightful thoughts and entertaining quips are in front of me, begging to be seen and contemplated and digested. All the time.
I enjoy words. I adore blogging and love reading the work of others. I put a high premium on words that are craftily strung together to create thoughtful ideas. And with the gift of internet on-demand, I’ve been reading a lot of wonderful words this year. I’ve learned much, been challenged and have grown because of it. Again, I am thankful. At the same time, I am cautious, because I’ve noticed something about myself. The voices of those who I read often can tend to stick in my head and can work their way into my own speaking and writing. Sometimes I catch myself trying to be poetic like Ann V or sassy like Jen H or theological like John P or intellectual like Ed S and it bothers me. Why do I have to sound like them? Why can’t I just sound like me? Why am I such a sticky surface? I have a hunch I’m not the only one who easily picks up the tones and the isms of those around them. One-liner facebook statuses are extremely telling in terms of how much we all start to sound like the people we are connected to. I don’t know who started the trend of calling everything epic or writing amiright as one word or putting periods at the ends of Every. Single. Word. – clearly we are impressionable creatures.
In an endeavor to find my own voice, to nurture my own creativity and become the thinker/writer/speaker that God has made me to be, I acknowledge my own impressionability and I have worked hard to over come it. A breakthrough happened for me when I realized that there is one piece of writing that never “rubs off” in the same way that the blogosphere writing tends to. There is one book that, the more I read it, the more I sound like Bethany, and less like everyone else. By God’s grace, in the midst of all of this “word overload,” I somehow was clued in to this thing that happens when I read THE BIBLE. After spending time in Galatians or the Psalms or Deuteronomy, I don’t have to try to NOT sound like Paul or David or Moses. Quite the opposite, spending time with these writers makes me sound much more like me. Even though the words themselves stick in my mind – even when I commit them to memory so that they are with me always – when I turn around and write a blog post or compose and e-mail or draft a report, those words give the confidence I sometimes lack to communicate in my own unique voice - the voice I believe God has given me. Reading the Bible liberates me from merely channeling Piperisms (or whatever) and frees me to delight in who I really am! And can I just say… WHAT A JOY!
Therefore… here’s my aim for 2014’s New Years resolution:
Given my susceptibility to take on other people’s styles, and the freedom I find in developing my own voice through reading more and more of the Word, I feel compelled to be more guarded on which voices I let swim around in my head. I’m not about to stick my head in the sand and read only scripture from now on. Quite the contrary, I hope to keep reading a wide variety of authors on a wide variety of subjects and checking facebook for exciting news… AFTER I have read my Bible. There’s the resolution. Because most of my quick reading is prompted by suggestions in my newsfeed and e-mail, my 2014 resolution is straightforward and simple – no Bible, no internet. I want to make sure that the images resting on my mind and the words floating around in my head are beneficial to me which I feel can only happen if I’ve already taken in the best pictures and already heard the best words. I feel I can maintain my writing integrity only when I’ve put in the time to find my true voice, spoken over me with love from the Father. Prioritizing reading even the most spot on commentary about whatever recent American craziness is folly if I haven’t heard FIRST what my Father has to say about, well, everything. I want to be wise and discerning and solid in my own communication which I believe can only happen if I’m saturated with the wonderful words of life.
Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify us forever.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
So. No Bible, no internet. I’m excited for this year.
OH. And Bronwyn has a new year's resolution too. Name and befriend all of the baby chicks on the farm. Feel free to go ahead and die from the cuteness.
What’s your New Year’s res?