There was a time when I was much more of a political activist.
I aimlessly watched too much media that fit neatly inside my narratives. I incited arguments out of nowhere in the middle of what were otherwise friendly conversations. I graduated with a BA in Political Science. And I lost some friends.
Much of this, I know, was born in me. And it’s beautiful. As a small child, my eyes darted back and forth below the adult conversations about how to heal the darkening world. I was enthralled by the heated passions of opposing perspectives over Thanksgiving dinners, me constantly switching sides by rhetoric’s persuasion.
I experienced injustices close up. Ones that, for many, were just things they saw in the papers. My house functioned as a temporary foster home. The realities of our broken system became real in the lice infested hair of two-year old babies with cigarette burns up and down their arms. It became real in the stories of a ten-year-old and a bedroom being the backseat of a car. It became personal when one almost-adoption fell apart at the very last second. Long after we had fallen in love with her.
And I got angry in a good way. At ten, I threw pajama fundraisers at my church for displaced children who normally received unwashed, smelly, a dozen-bodies-already-worn-in PJs. I marched up the capital steps at the very front of the pack, holding a sign that screamed for more protection for abused and neglected children. Later in life, I would go to International Justice Mission galas with my mom and watch as the wealthy unzipped their pocketbooks to help a young girl rescued from sex-trafficking and an entire family escaping from enslavement. At my Christian college, I stood up in class. I ripped apart every conservative persuasion presented, even the ones gently delivered. I thought myself a martyr for being so different.
But the whole beautiful passion- my ache for a world renewed- took an unnoticed turn and became something else entirely. The political obsession, I came to understand, was a way in which I dealt with my own shame. My own fear of who I was. The nausea of being gay inside evangelical circles, the unceasing terror of hell, and things that could only be expressed by the tears in my pillow.
So, instead- to deal, I got political. Got feisty. Turned my justice-driven passion into something that had nothing to do with justice or public policy. Something once beautiful distorted into distraction. It gave me things outside of myself to zero in on, sink me teeth into and exhaust all of my anger against. And it was not political or justice or even principle, it was coping. It was pushed by my own shame.
What I’ve come to realize lately is that there are healthy and unhealthy fixations we fall into and it’s complicated, because it depends on the circumstance and the time it consumes. There are seasons when these things are exactly what we need. For instance, even prior to coming out, I drifted away from my mono-political obsession into a deep passion with painting. I splashed together some pieces that astonished even me, I smirked at others that I completely bombed out into brown mushiness. At my college house, I went so far as to establish a wall of bad work. My love for the craft was not determined by my success but simply my delight in experiencing it. I learned so much about who I was in that time, but even more sweet, I went weak at the knees dreaming about the God Artist. The Great One who also paints and sculpts and laughs and cries just out of delight for the craft.
Since coming out, my need has been my writing. The blog has been an outlet, a fixation, and actually, a complete indictment of my once critical eye towards “online communities.” What I thought was a solitary activity has morphed into an all hours communal gathering. So many fascinating, challenging, sad and happy stories are met in this sacred ground. I’ve built deep and meaningful relationships with people far past the tweets and comments and shares. Ones that understand me and ones that don’t, but are trying to. Friends that call me when they see me storming out tweets about the Gospel Coalition, just to check in and make sure I’m alright. Friends that really, truly care, even if we are miles apart. We’ve talked over the phone, done some Google Chatting, and just the other night, the wonderful Hannah and I grabbed drinks at the California Pizza Kitchen up near Shady Grove. Over whiskey and gin and tonics, we choked out our stories, bit by bit and it wasn’t even weird. It was surprisingly familiar. Normal.
As I am now living in DC and a full-time job searcher, it breaks my heart a little that I haven’t been able to write regularly. The hours of polishing my paragraphs, finding that word that fits just right, suddenly striking ground in moments of self-discovering- it all matters to me. It is very important.
But I am also a full-time job searcher now, and in light of the current circumstances and in light of my bank account figures, writing anything other than cover letters isn’t the most productive use of my time.
And honestly, I think the step away is important.
Actually, it is vital.
The craft, the words, the connections and, yes, I’ll admit it, the traffic- all of it matters. All of it is rooted in a deep and sacred place in my heart. And I don’t want to ruin it. I don’t want to abuse it.
I’ve only been here less than a week and I am already stressed about no offers. I am already worrying about next month’s loan payment and fretting over how I just know I will blow that one big break into an interview. I am already resorting to my manic-future-obsessed nightmares about living beneath a bridge or surviving paycheck to paycheck or worse, residing in my parents’ basement (just kidding, guys) for the rest of my days.
And so my natural tendency is to take to blogging, like, all the time. To hit up posts of friends, wade into someone words that give me all the good feelings, and then airstrike every ugly, shitty piece of work that infects this space with distorted gospel. All of it keeps me away from the stress. All of it devours my time quicker than I know.
Recently, the shame has imperceptibly threaded its way through the desperate hours in front of screen as I scan through jobs I am not qualified for and type out letters that aren’t very good. Thankfully, through growth and therapy, I know how to handle this. I’m surveying the ground, detecting the foreign invaders, and drone-striking them to hell. I’m praying over it, again and again, and whispering calmly that it will all be okay. Remembering that there is anxiety disorder and then there is reality and I am allowed to choose which world I will live in.
And part of that process requires, however painfully, a reminder of my tendency toward distraction. How quickly I can throw in the towel by stepping away from my responsibilities and immersing myself into those natural mediums that keep me stimulated and dreamy and a degree removed from reality. Stepping into the same coping mechanism that took things I loved, like politics and painting, and distorted them into something that made life easy and ignorable.
All this is to say- I’m going to keep writing because I love it. Oh how I do. But there will be less posts. Less interactions. More distance between me and the medium until I find a steady salary that I can eat, drink, and rent on.
Also, I’d like you to know that the arms of my email are wide, WIDE open if you care to contribute a guest post (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Holli Carey Long recently joined the Love Letters series and if that is something that interests you, I would be ecstatic if you sent me an email. Other than that, I am open to all other topics! Doesn’t have to be about the lgbt community. Doesn’t even have to be about the Christian Community! Whatever suits, whatever is driving your passion right now, hit me up. I would gladly present your work on this site.
As for now, one thing you can do is pray for me to find work. If you have connections, connect me. Or, simply, I would love to hear some advice about surviving the job hunt below. Or, if you also struggle with distraction as an avoidance of shame, tell me your story on how you handle it. How do you strike that balance of continuing to do the things you love without distorting them into something else?
My love to you all,