Last week I celebrated my birthday. Just a regular old birthday--no balloons, no fanfare.
Last year, on the other hand, I celebrated a big time birthday. A milestone. The big 5-0.
To be honest, turning 51 is a lot less exciting than turning 50. All that fanfare was fun. But turning 51 is a whole lot more like my real life than turning 50 was.
Real life, as it turns out, is not so much about the big, alert-the-media events as it is about the ordinary, everyday stuff.
This non-milestone birthday has prompted me to do some deep thinking about my blog. I started blogging back in 2007. I knew of only one other person who blogged. I wrote a few posts, but then life got in the way and I stopped.
I re-started blogging in 2009. By that time I'd read several other blogs and found them to be helpful and encouraging. That inspired me.
To be helpful and encouraging. That's exactly what I wanted.
And I loved it.
So long as my focus was on being helpful and encouraging, I was free--free to be my true self, to make Imparting Grace an extension of my home and my heart. Sort of a front porch with a lot more places to sit than I'd otherwise have.
Over time, though, the blogosphere changed. Suddenly there were hundreds of thousands of blogs, and thousands of those were so much better than my blog. They had professional-quality photos, exciting headlines, streamlined sidebars. I was amazed and a little intimidated by them.
I knew I needed to get with the times or be left behind in the dust. So I made some changes, joined some networks, hired some expert help.
The problem is that somewhere along the way, the idea of making my blog a success became more important than my original intention of helping and encouraging.
Honestly, having a successful blog is not a bad thing. I now know lots of highly successful bloggers, and they're great people. I rejoice with them.
But for me, the lure of success ended up being a tool in the hands of the enemy of my soul. "If you're successful, you'll be able to help and encourage so many more people!" he whispered. "You're just enlarging your platform so that you can do more good in the world!"
That sounded plausible. And maybe there's some truth in there. But the more I got wrapped up in striving to be a successful blogger, the less satisfaction I found in blogging. What was once a source of pleasure became a source of pressure.
I've decided that I need to go back to my front-porch approach to blogging. My original intention was to impart grace to my readers. Simply trying to help and encourage was good for me, and I hope it was good for you, too.
Blogging has brought me all kinds of opportunities, but what I value most is that blogging has brought me the opportunity to get to know people. Strangers have become friends, and friends have become family. And every single one of you is more than welcome here on my front porch. Y'all come and sit a spell, won't you?
I'll be here, being my true self. We'll share what we've learned and what we're learning. And if I can be helpful and encouraging to you, I'll count that plenty successful.
What about you? Do you ever need to stop and re-evaluate whether what you're doing is reflective of who you truly are?