I have a confession.
No, seriously. The photo of me that adorns my home page has not been retouched, airbrushed, or Photoshopped in any way. I really do have less hair than most newborns. Now you know.
“Bald Man Blogging” – it’s not just a clever name.
So, what does this have to do with Renée’s book? Simple.
This blog is about living openly. I started it as part of a deliberate attempt to live my life more transparently. It is an opportunity for me to process life with an online community. You’ve probably noticed this blog is not anonymous. If you’ve dropped in over the past year, you’ve seen my church struggle and experiment, my daughter grow, my son be born, and my father-in-law pass away, to name but a few. You’ve also heard me think out loud, pray out loud, struggle out loud. This is intentional.
Furthermore, I have tried to use this blog as a springboard to living more transparently in my physical communities. It’s easier for me to write openly, and I’ve tried to let blogging give me courage to carry that openness into the physical community around me. Just as I am a Bald Man Blogging, I have tried to be a Bald Man Living. That is, I have tried to live uncovered, honestly, just as I am.
It’s a dangerous thing to do, to let others into your inner-most parts. It requires trust and faith far beyond reason. The deepest pain is caused by those inside our armor. But, this is the only way, in my opinion, for us to experience life as God intends. The deepest healing, love, and joy are only brought by those we allow inside our armor, too. Life is meant to be shared. Life is meant for community. Life is meant to be lived baldly.
This brings me to Renée.
On her blog and in her book, she has dared to let us into her life. She has invited us in to her pain and the abuse of her past. She has allowed us to walk beside her as she Stumbled Toward Faith. Why? I’ll let her answer in her own words:
i grew up in a world where everything was hidden. my father told me “not to write anything negative down” and i truly believed that if i did, it meant that i wasn’t a christian. i tried to write things in veiled terms in my journals, but i still remember coming home from school and having to pick through the garbage and the thrown out lettuce and bones to get the pieces of my writings that had been torn out of my diaries because they had been deemed unacceptable.
i started writing on the net in 1997. it was the beginning of the “online journal” phenomenon and i felt like i had something to say. i think the first responses to those first posts were what helped me keep going. i received affirmation, not only for my writing, but for what i was saying. for the first time, i really felt like it was okay to express how i felt. and as other people wrote in with their experiences and responses, i began to find this community of friends and survivors and i discovered that i wasn’t alone.
after awhile it became easier to write online than in private, and while there were certainly some things that i processed out of the public eye, i began to see the benefit to telling my story to others, and began to accept the input that others had for me.
it was the beginning of a lack of shame, too. i realised that i was accepted, regardless of the things i wrote down.
Loneliness is, perhaps, the worst of all conditions. I don’t mean to degrade any of the suffering Renée experienced, but I cannot help to think that it would have been more bearable had she not suffered alone, had she not been closed off from community. As you read her story, you will meet people who succeeded – many times, it seems, intentionally – in compounding her pain thru isolation. Fortunately, you will also hear of the occasional person who was willing to enter into her life, encounters in which hope was sown, in which faith began to germinate.
Struggling. Stumbling. Doubting. Fearing. Raging. We can bear all these, if we have someone to bear them with, someone to sympathize, to affirm, to accept. Renée has bravely opened her life to us all. For that, I thank her; and to you I commend her book.
The Stumbling Toward Faith Virtual Book Tour will be going on all month. Blog hop with Renée and the rest of us.
Monday’s Stop: Tall Skinny Kiwi
Tuesday’s Stop: Latina Liz
Previous Stops: Real Live Preacher, U2 Sermons, and Jordon Cooper.com
Amazon link: Stumbling Toward Faith
Youth Specialties link (YS will donate one dollar for each purchase made thru this link to Becky’s House.)