Yesterday, I quit the Internet. Today, I took the Internet to Starbucks and toasted it with a venti Americano: we made up.

Internet, I could never stay mad at you.

Sometimes, I’m just so tired of All the Reacting. Every one is always reacting to every one else’s work, and right now, in these weeks of writing, I want to create. I want to create my own work, not react to or critique someone else’s work. I’m rather over reacting or evangelistic commenting or convincing or weighing in or defending or add my two-cents-ing. Besides, haven’t we hit capacity on constantly being outraged and offended?

I would rather Create than React.

I need to tell a better story, a beautiful story, a truthful one.  I’m not a preacher or a teacher, and I’m realising that I am not a good “reactor” either – wait a tick, is that even a word? I don’t think it is, unless the word “nuclear” is in front of it, which may be apropos for the tone of some rhetoric these days. 

Instead of big arguments and point-by-point apologetics, instead of reacting to slights, imagined or legitimate, political or religious or relational, I long to get on with my Father’s business.

I’d rather be a Prophet than a Professor, a Lover than an Apologist.

I long to Love, I long to offer grace, particularly to those struggling under their own new Laws, I long to worship, I’d rather write a better story than a point-by-point defense, and I long to really see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story. How brightly a better story shines. How easily the world looks at it in wonder. How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them. ~ Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I can’t live a better story – let alone write one down (by January! *faint*) – if I’m being swept up in a million comments and expectations and frustrations and whirlwinds of offense.

I can’t Create, if I’m busy Reacting.  Some of my best work – on-screen and off – comes when I’m listening more than I’m talking, when I’m decreasing and God is increasing, when my heart is undivided and whole.

This idea is guiding a lot of my life right now (and, yes, of course, I’m talking about way more than just writing a book): 

Am I creating something beautiful and true? Or am I merely reacting?

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt

And I can’t be Fearless, if I’m afraid of The Critic, now can I? For me, It’s better to forget about the Critics for just a little while, in this sweet stage of creating, and simply get on it. There will be plenty of time to have my work picked apart later. I don’t mean to excuse a lack of critical thinking, not at all, there’s a good place for it – in creativity, in writing, in social justice, in community, in marriages, in parenting, all of it – but in all of those arenas, I hope I’m marred by dust and sweat and blood, I hope I dare greatly.

Right now, I’ll try, in my own small way, to dare a little more greatly, and take a few risks, by remembering to create, instead of react.

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  • Liz

    I know it’s beyond the point to comment here, but I loved this. Well done.
    Especially this–“whirlwinds of offense” this is the society I feel I live in somedays.

    Beautiful post we all need to hear!

  • This is exactly why I created today — wrote a post that had nothing to do with this crazy week, that spoke something I needed to say outside the reactions and comments and disappointments and all of it. Thanks for saying this out loud, for calling us to tell our bigger stories rather than getting all swept up. There’s certainly a time for defending and standing up, but we would all do well to listen to that instinct that tells us to stay small, keep our heads down and remember again of the good, unique work that God has for us. For just me. For right now, for this day, for whatever that means.

    (And I quoted Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly — so, that’s fun too.)

  • Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! This made me do my Happy Chair Dance!

    “Besides, haven’t we hit capacity on constantly being outraged and offended?”

    Boy, howdy.

    This blog is as quotable as _The Avengers_. I kept trying to decide what to quote on my status, gave up, and just linked to it.

    You are awesome and loved, and the awesomeness and love pouring out of you into the world blesses my socks off. Or would if I were wearing any.

  • create like the wind ! xoxo

  • YES! There is so much beauty around us and this very thought has been transforming my writing. I want to share love not defend or take a position!

    I want my passion to be an expression not a reaction!

    Btw I am very glad you made up with the internet. I have just barely discovered your voice and my world would be remiss without it!

  • This was an excellent and timely post!

  • Beauty. Truth. Thanks friend.

  • hopejem

    Thank you. I’m glad you and the internet made up. I wanted to hear from you and this was the best thing I could have read. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” I’ m guessing you asked. Blessings to you.

  • So true!

  • Thank you, S. This is part of what I’m trying to figure out during my time away. This is helping me shape those prayers. Thank you.

  • I’m cheering you on. And I can totally relate – there are some days where th Internet is an exhilarating party or a fun coffee shop hangout with friends – and other times where it is a deafening, wearying, chaotic market place and I need to come back home and lock myself in my room.

    (and I totally laughed at the reactor bit – sometimes I also feel like a nuclear reactor!)
    Much love to you x

  • KathleenBasi

    I think being prophet and lover does more teaching than being a professor, anyway.

  • Kathleen Quiring

    It sounds like you have the same relationship to the internet that I have. I always want to quit the internet for the same reason, but keep coming back to it. I love the people there too much, even if I get so tired of all the reacting.

    But yes. Creating is so much more beautiful than reacting. Cheers!

  • Yes, we can’t open up and tell our stories if we are too busy clamouring and yelling. I think stories grow in the quiet places where we silence our inner and outer critics for a moment. I so needed this piece today.

  • Yesterday I felt like I just needed some perspective, just to step back. And even in search of perspective, a critic found me. As I stewed and thought of what to say back, it hit me that “nothing” was an option. The more I let go of replying, the better saying nothing sounded. A day later, I can’t even remember what it was all about. gosh, who knew that sanity can be had! To think of all the times I’ve fretted over typing the perfect response…

    • Over the years, my awesome husband has been teaching me this. There is always the choice to not engage in the fight. But, when I just read one of the comments on your blog just now that I thought was buggy, I had to resist the strong urge to hit reply and question his sense….

  • I’ve been afraid of my critics (my own family) for far too long. I’ve just this week started writing despite the fear. Reading this is of great encouragement to me! Thank you!

  • Jane

    Yep yep yep. Yes to real things proving their reality and no to hypothesising into thin air and having to wonder if it’s true or not!

  • I agree, Sarah. We seem to be treading parallel paths, here. I’ve almost quit Facebook about 12 times during this election year. I’m sick of the reacting, too, from both sides. For me, there’s only one “cause,” and that’s spreading the love of Jesus Christ. Like you, I’d rather be a lover than an apologist, and that’s saying a lot, because I love to argue. Not so much any more. Jesus is changing me. And I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.

  • Megan Cobb

    Love this. Quitting the internet always seems to results in coming back with renewed determination and courage and fortitude. Maybe we’re meant to do it every once in awhile, just for that reason.

  • amyscanderson

    Reading this just lowered my shoulders and seems to have me breathing deeper. Thank you.

  • Sarah, I’ve been wrestling with this very same thing all week, but it’s been sort of jumbled up and bottled up, looking for a way to make itself known. And now you’ve gone and said it. Thank you.

    And sort of paradoxically, this is the beauty of the internet, the thing that keeps drawing me back — people out there whose words help me and the hope that my words will do the same for someone else. But we need to “come home” regularly to find our words, to know the thing we were meant to create.

  • Yes! I’d rather be using my energy elsewhere …

  • Allison C. Lee

    Amen.
    On a different note…Sister, I’ve been praying for you. The world needs this book you are writing. Also, I will never get over the fact that you are afraid to speak in front of crowds or on camera. I’d buy tickets today for a Sarah Bessey conference. Let’s tackle this thing…BIG plans ahead for you. I can feel it in my bones. (wink)
    I got your back…
    Allison

  • Anna White

    I have to print this to process later. I love this. I too find that I can’t create when my head is full of everyone else’s words and pictures and expectations.

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  • Absolutely agree with you on this one. I have been so hesitant in blogging-land because I get so tired of the self-promotion and reacting. Love hearing your heart to step away and create.

  • April Yamasaki

    Beautiful post! I love your expression “this sweet stage of creating.”

  • best word I’ve heard in a long time. thank-you

  • This is so right on. I know that the mayhem of the fight is not healthy and is not where we should dwell. (And yet, now I wonder what I missed yesterday that inspired you to want to quit the internet. Ah! I struggle with an addiction to controversry.)

  • This is the very reason I stopped blogging. I got tired of “the argument” and decided the “conversation” was a better option. I do feel like I wimped out a bit, but with friend and foe lining up to be offended, I really just couldn’t be bothered anymore.

    It’s all still very importent to me, of course, and one day I’ll opt in again, but for now I’m content to just enjoy what I’m learning about Dad’s grace and love rather than argue about it.

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  • chrissy

    Can I just tell you how much I love to read your words? How I soak them all up and carry them around with me…sometimes for a day, sometimes for weeks, sometimes they get embedded deep inside my heart and I know the shape of it has changed. Your writing has meant much to me this year….you need to know:) XO

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  • Pete A.

    So, so true! Which reminds me – right now it’s time for ME to go and “act.” See you next time.

  • While I know this was an older post, it was the final encouragement I needed TODAY to stop hiding and making excuses and do what I’m called…created…to do…. Thank you.