They feel too raw, too real, too exposing somehow. And I feel too vulnerable, my former courage melting into puddles at my feet. To publish or not to publish? That is the question.
Maybe you've been there, too, when writing an article, blog post, social media update or part of a work in progress? Suddenly we freeze, yield to feelings of unworthiness, people-approval issues and wondering if we've even heard aright.
Discernment is a tricky thing. I've walked transparency's path many times in trying to stay faithful to what I believe God wants me to write, and it doesn't get any easier. All those what ifs? spring to mind, inhibiting the flow.
Certain topics are considered to be off limits in polite society. For instance, it's not good dinner party etiquette to talk about money, politics, religion or sex.
Social media seems to have no such constraints. It's become a no-holds-barred area where any and everything goes. Although as Christian believers/writers we may want to pause, pray and exercise some restraint in what we say publicly and how we say it.
Because our words matter tremendously - they have potential of bringing life and hope to others and witness to the Word of Life Himself.
It's a high calling and a challenging one. We negotiate a fine balancing act between sharing and over-sharing. I tend to explore touchy topics at times, in seeking to be candid about a painful past and the daily struggles of living with chronic illness.
So it's with some trepidation that I'm offering an imperfectly penned poem that touches on 3 out of the 4 'taboo' topics above. May it encourage you to open up similarly, if need be.
On politics, sex and religion
I don't tend to air my views on politics.
Not because of indifference, missing
strong opinions, or lacking courage
to share my personal convictions.
Instead, I baulk at braying voices,
joining in with lengthy debate,
discussion and heated argument.
I want to come alongside another,
look for points of connection instead
of focusing on what divides us
from each other. My heart yearns
for peace - and little can be found
when discussing British politics.
It's hard to find a reasoned
middle ground, a place of calm
intelligence and commonsense,
a clear way forward, no less.
I speak out readily about my faith
and how it daily shapes my life and thoughts.
Religion, however, is a word apt to separate
and segregate, so I tend to avoid naming my
beliefs in terms of dogma, doctrine, creeds.
Because the Man on the cross didn't come
to start a new religion, but to offer new life,
heart-to-heart relationship to us.
He initiated the Gospel of grace
freely given to all the human race.
I'm not afraid to mention sex, especially
in the context of those who struggle
with M.E and chronic illness, those whose
past is shadowed by abuse and whose present
days are clouded, haunted by shame and guilt.
I speak of how God created sex to be one of
the greatest gifts to humanity, with potential
for joy in an incredibly bonding union which
inexplicably mirrors His own with us.
Back to politics - it impolitely refuses
to go away - and looks different in each
person's eyes, depending on who holds sway.
So I may keep schtum and I may seem
numb to waves of political tides
washing around my feet like a vast,
turbulent sea. And sometimes staying
silent is a sign of insouciance, or it may
be a way of wisdom, diplomacy and peace.
Each one of us needs to stay true to the calling placed on our lives and to the way God wants us to write. Much depends on our unique voice, gifting, genre, experience and intended audience.
Have you been challenged by the thought of sharing something deeply personal?
How do you see your role as a Christian writer being salt and light in a dark world?
Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer, poet and blogger, author of 'Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life's hard places'.
She enjoys encouraging others on their journey of life and faith at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. You can connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.