Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Joining A Community

I have been dreading writing this post and I've had a hard time pinpointing why. I think I have come up with an answer. I hope.

Some of my "five loyal readers" might remember at the beginning of the month when I posted that The High Calling was hosting a contest for free registration to their Writers' Retreat. To enter the contest, you had to be a member of The High Calling community. Registration is easy, so I did that. Then you had to write a blog post about why you need to be at that retreat, which I did. They also suggest that one should display The High Calling badge on their blog. Thankfully, I'm proficient enough to make that happen on my blog. I followed the rest of the instructions on sharing my blog post to enter the contest. Voila! I was done.

The contest winner was announced the following day (I had waited until the very last minute to join). The winner - whose name I think is Kathy - is from the same area I live in. I'll have to catch up with her now that I know she exists! Even though I did not win the contest, several lovely people made it possible for me to go to the Writers' Retreat. In fact, I'm leaving in a few hours for the retreat and I am nervous, excited, and nervous. Or is it excited, nervous, and excited? I'm not sure...

Anyway, shortly after the flurry of activity around the contest, I received an email from one of the Welcome Editors at The High Calling. She listed several ways to get familiar with the network and become involved. It was a lovely email, but about half-way through I hit a snag with this suggestion: "At your convenience, write a post on your blog explaining to your readers why you have joined THC community." 

Now I know that one of my five loyal readers is just sitting there thinking, "You tell us everything else under the sun, so why should this be a problem?"

Yes. I do tell you more than you usually want to know about some things. I get that. But that doesn't mean I don't wish I could hide parts of it sometimes. The reason I tell is because I feel the Spirit pressing down on my saying, "tell". So I do. Evidently God has a purpose for the stories I tell that is way outside of my comfort zone and yours. My "obedience training" does not always come with explanation - just instructions. I can tell you that if I didn't feel the Spirit pressing on me right now, I wouldn't be sitting here typing. I have things to do before I get on the road!

So what is it that got me all twitterpated about telling people why I joined The High Calling Community? [at times like these I think that rigorous honesty is highly overrated] Mostly it is the fact that I didn't want to join it for so long.  Yes. You read that correctly. I did not want to join for the longest time, so I feel weird about writing a blog post about why I finally joined. Guilty, too.

Altogether now: "Let's not put lipstick on this pig before we shove it out in the spotlight." (I need to get that needle-pointed on to a pillow or something)

The reasons why I  did not want to join The High Calling are because I felt intimidated and unworthy. Not because anything any of the members had done - they have been completely lovely. The negative feelings are all mine.

I have known about The High Calling since 2001 (you can read more about that in my contest post). In his radio spots, Howard Butt Jr always urged us to find out more on the website. I'm sure I told myself that I would "one of these days". What I felt inside though - listening to his lovely voice - was that he was calling me to a type of living that I just could not achieve. I was sure that he and the other members of The High Calling were just better at being Christians - and humans in general - than I was. It never occurred to me that maybe they could help me be better. I just didn't want to taint them with my mediocrity. (I think I've mentioned before that I'm an egomaniac with a inferiority complex, haven't I?) So ten years go by...

I started blogging this year and I've started visiting many other blogs as a result. I've seen The High Calling badge on the blogs of many writers whom I admire. I think I followed the link once and I was overwhelmed - overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information on that website. There are six categories of article after article written by amazing people. You could get lost there for hours just reading great literature about great living. The quality of the writing is wonderful. And intimidating to me, the blogger with the earthy, choppy writing style that talks about lipstick on pigs and goat in trees. What could I have to offer such a community? So I shut that idea down fairly quickly the first time I saw the site.

Move on about 3 months into my blogging. I'm realizing that to be better at my purpose of writing stories for God, I need to be more involved with Christian writers (just like when I switched colleges my senior year so that I could be taught social work by Christians). Then I find out about this contest to go to the Writers' Retreat. It's the last day and Hubby is urging me to jump in, so I did. I just went for it. No time to think.

Until after I hit "submit". The late night conversations with the Father of Lies who tells me all the reasons I'm not good enough started right up. "Carolyn, there are published authors who write lyrical essays for this site that are going to be there. What do you have that even compares?" "Why are you taking a spot at this retreat away from somebody who has more talent than you? It's not like you are going to have anything worthwhile to add to the discussions?" Oh he's a mean one, that Deceiver. And once he has his say, my mind just joins in the mess: "What were you thinking? You've joined this community and given them your blog address. Now they are going to know you are a phony! You have nothing to offer these spiritual giants who can still tower over you on their smallest days!" I'm not sure whose voice got louder in tearing me down - the Deceiver's or mine.

So what has happened? Have I changed my mind? Or am I just writing because the Spirit said, "write!". Well, that's a definite "yes" on the Spirit thing. Practicing obedience. But I might have also changed my mind just a little bit. I've been thinking some about that post I wrote on Genshai - not treating people as if they are small. But the real kicker was participating last week in Tamara's "What is a girl worth?" project.  It doesn't make sense that I spent so much time visiting the blogs of other participants and encouraging them to feel the worth that they have in God - in Christ - and then not extending any of those feelings of worth to myself.

So after a month of telling myself I'm crazy for doing any of this, I've decided to try something different. I've decided to speak up about being a member of a community. I've decided to believe that God has a purpose for me in fellowshipping with these people. That doesn't mean that I'm suddenly completely firm with conviction, but I know that if I take my butt, my head will follow. I just have to keep doing the faith action until my head gets clear enough to recognize that the faith is there. God has always been faithful to me when I've done it this way. So here we go again...

The first faith action will be hitting "publish post" on this essay. The next faith action will be getting in the car and driving down to that Writers' Retreat. God give me the faith to do both.



  1. You are so fabulous and you don't even see it! I love you, Carolyn ... love being one of your "5 loyal readers" (or do I make it six now?)!! Enjoy your deserve it utterly! I cannot wait to hear about it when you return! Love you bunches!

  2. You will have a great time on your retreat! Just rest and have a good time.


  3. I loved seeing your heart in this post. :)

  4. You ladies are just wonderful! xoxoxo from the middle of nowhere!

  5. Carolyn, it was so great to meet you at the retreat. Though we didn't get to spend much time together, I am thankful you took the risk to join the network, post about your feelings, and get in the car to come to Laity Lodge. I pray that it was challenging, encouraging, and worth it. (BTW, those three words could describe you and your blog, Carolyn!) I look forward to getting to know you better over the next few months as we interact online, and maybe--next year--in person! :)

  6. I am glad to have met you at the retreat. You are a great writer! Keep at it.


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