Blog Reader Love


The connection started with an email that a reader of Communicating Across Boundaries sent me. She would be in Boston for a conference with her husband. She is a good friend of Robynn’s. Could we meet?

I sent back an enthusiastic reply. Yes! That would be great.

We exchanged dates and phone numbers over email.

Meeting readers in ‘real life’ is a gift. That someone would like your writing, your blog enough to contact you and want coffee together? That is remarkable. In October I had another reader contact me. She’d been raised in Pakistan and, though years younger, had recently begun following the blog. We met over curry in a local Indian restaurant and talked for three hours. Last year another reader contacted me. Turned out she knew my brother, lived a block away, and had recently been to Egypt.

But before you meet them there is always a hesitation, an insecurity. What if they don’t like the real deal? What if I’m not who they think I am? What if their perception through my writing is all wrong? What if I’ve not given word pictures of my world authentically?

If I’m not careful I’ll get stuck on the ‘what ifs’, and if I get stuck I’ll back out, not meet them, and be the lesser for it.

Because meeting readers keeps me honest and alert. If I make up stuff about my community, my neighborhood, they’ll know, they’ll call me out. And that is a good thing. Meeting readers is simultaneously humbling and affirming.

Using our words in the public sphere is vulnerable and opens us up to criticism from strangers. Using our words in public also carries with it a responsibility. A responsibility to truth, to not write just to get an audience, to pray over what is posted, to grow through the process. And meeting readers in real life reminds me of this. Reminds me that what I write matters, that I can’t throw frivolous words out and expect them to be heard.

But there’s something more. When I meet readers, I get a chance to hear what’s important to them. They know what’s important to me, they read my words. But it’s not reciprocal. Meeting someone puts a face and personality to a comment. I learn that one reader is in school to be a physical therapist, that another is applying to medical school.

So Jill and I meet over coffee. I get to meet her husband as well. I hear just a bit about what is important to them, about an innovative program to help the homeless, those on the fringes of society who live on streets and vie for spaces at shelters. I get to see pictures of children and learn a bit about how they know Robynn. We share hot cider, laughter, and exchange written words for spoken. The time was short – I had to get back to an evening commitment. But I am the better for having met her.

So to all of you who I haven’t met – thank you that in a time where words are used too often, and not always well, you read the words put forward on this blog.

About the picture: I was in an artsy store in Atlanta, Georgia browsing through cards when I found the card above. I got to laughing so hard I could hardly speak. I took it to the cashier, a young, artsy person, and as I handed it to him, I said in a little voice: “I blog.”  He didn’t get it at first, and then burst out laughing, and shook his head: “It would have been better if someone else had found it and given it to you!” So there you have it.


The Dilemma Knocking on My Door

Grace and Truth knocked on my door last night. Ironically both were frantic and adamant. They have come to the door hundreds of times, but it still surprises me. This dilemma brings on a sick nervous feeling and a worry.

Grace accused me of being legalistic and literal, mean and hard. Claims that if I really knew people who were hurting, people who believed differently, I would change my mind. Grace seems to be willing to reveal herself to everyone but Truth.

Truth accuses me of being soft – wishy-washy and without conviction, changing my mind with the wind. Truth is so hard and unyielding sometimes.

As if the silent battle is not enough, voices from the outside join in through blogs and articles, conversations and sermons. My world and mind are noisy with opinion.

Truth talks loudly; Grace talks emphatically; they both talk insistently. And I scream inside about how much I love them both and that they are intimately connected, this Grace and Truth. For I cannot give Grace without knowing Truth and I cannot know Truth apart from Grace.

I close my eyes and the two of them suddenly collide, velvet and steel – unlikely bedfellows. Maybe the dilemma is a gift. If they hadn’t come knocking they wouldn’t have collided and the collision is the best possible scenario.

The steel cabinet of Truth open, displaying shelves full of velvet and lace, products of Grace. The velvet and lace of Grace finding a resting place on shelves of steel. My dilemma can rest for a time, gazing at the open cabinet and seeking the One in whom Grace and Truth collide, the One who is full of Grace and Truth.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14