I can hardly believe it, but this space, this tiny little slice of the internet that I named just enough brave was born one year ago. For twelve months I’ve been putting my thoughts, my convictions, and my heart into words and putting those words here. I’ve spent—and still spend—my fair share of time questioning this space and my ability to fill it with anything worthwhile. And truthfully, I will probably always fight that battle with myself. But writing… this is how I learn. It’s how I process, how I sort through messes, how I both vent and apologize, and how God teaches me that every good endeavor can truly be done for his glory.
This past year has both surprised and humbled me. Almost without exception, the essays that I sat down and wrote in an hour were the ones that resonated most with readers, and the ones I labored through or worked too hard to be funny in mostly fell flat. So, I guess like everything else in life, when something genuinely comes from our hearts the world can tell, and I think we are a people that appreciates genuine over fake any day.
What I have learned in a year is simple, yet worth reminding myself of. Part of the beauty is in the journey, and remembering that journey.
Lesson 1: don’t try to be someone I’m not. A few weeks ago I wrote a post, a satire, if you will, on social media and my poor attempt to stay off of it for a while (I made it 12 days, in case you were wondering). After one reader commented I realized I may be saying something I did not mean to at all and offending others in the process, and I took the post down 20 minutes later. Remember what I said above about trying to be funny? Well, I’m really not, and if I ever am it’s probably an accident. So, staying clear of those essays from now on. The things that truly get me excited to write about are motherhood, faith, justice, friendship, and other lessons life teaches me. Straying from what I know in an effort to be more generally appealing, it doesn’t work. And I would tell my kids this same thing in any endeavor they went after, so I have to model it as their mom. Be you.
Lesson 2: if I live for approval, I’ll die for approval. Am I the only one who puts something on social media and checks back a few hours later to, you know, see how it’s doing? And by that I mean, “I’m just gonna log on real fast and see how many likes it has?” Just looking for a friend. Truth: this is not a sustainable way to be a writer, or an artist of any kind, I might argue. It kills the whole spirit of creating something you believe in. Shauna Niequist has said, “You are a writer if you write.” I adore this, and so want to live it out. Because I love words, and I also love when others love my words, it would be a lie to say that I didn’t; but even when they don’t, in my stillest, most honest moments with Jesus, I can truly say that I love putting them together. When I invite God into this work and share the best of myself, public reception becomes much less important. Plus, my husband and my mom will always read what I write, so I can rest knowing that (trying to be funny, friends).
Lesson 3: vulnerability is good, but God has to be in it. Many of you know that one of my very best friends and I wrote a blog together for four years. I loved it, because I always felt like I was in this strange internet-writing world locked arms with someone. Last summer when we both felt like God was stirring in us some individual directions for teaching and writing, I took almost three months to start j.e.b. because it felt too vulnerable, and I have never liked that feeling. I didn’t want to be just another voice making noise. I didn’t want to clamor for attention on my own because what did I even have to offer? But with a lot of prayer and at the encouragement of a few friends, I bought the url, thought of a name (a reflection of how I want to not only write but live), and started sharing. And, you know, it is vulnerable. I am always wondering how others perceive me based on what I write. But I also really believe in the power and beauty of words, and I really believe in God. And sometimes, I wake up with things to say burning in my mind and all of a sudden it doesn’t feel vulnerable, it feels right. Vulnerable comes when I am trying to make something of myself; peace comes when I am trying to make something of Jesus. Amen, and let it be so.
Lesson 4: I will fail. Did you all know that I wrote a book 3 years ago? No, you probably didn’t. I think it sold 7 copies or something like that. And even now when I read it, I feel like I am not the same writer. Sometimes I cringe a little going “that’s really what I published?” But I don’t remember the process like that. I remember loving every second of putting that little project together during my first pregnancy. I would write it very differently today, that’s for sure. But if I had not written that and spent the hours I did on it, I wouldn’t even be the writer I am. And I think that’s a lot like life. We don’t arrive as perfect people; we make a lot of mistakes in the process of being good wives, mothers, friends, and most importantly, Christ-followers. I have to ask forgiveness daily. Daily. Something I said, something I failed to do, a pride-filled attitude or action, you name it. But those moments are almost always where I learn, and where I understand grace. So really, failure isn’t all bad—it’s a step back and then two steps forward as someone with a slightly more humble heart. That's the direction I want to be moving in, always.
Lesson 5: we all want to fit somewhere, and we are better together. Really, isn’t it the best cheering others on? So much more good gets done in the world when we do it together, and when we actually act like fans of one another in the process. I really believe this.
In the end, I have been writing here for a year because the best version of me is the one on paper, and I want to actually live the things I say. I am inconsistent at best, but I keep writing because I keep trying, and because I want to love Jesus more. And then, every once in a while, someone tells me with the most sincere encouragement, “Katie, please keep writing.” You have no idea what those words do for my heart. Thanks for being with me for the last year. Here’s to a few more!