Why We Wrestle Before We Write

Browse the blogosphere today and you’ll find a copious amount of “How To” and “Top 10” and “Year in Review” type posts. That’s well and good and I might even read a few of them…but this isn’t one of those posts.

If you find yourself bored with what could be called “filler content,” then come sit by me. As a writer and blogger, I empathize with the demand that we all feel to keep the stream of posts a’flowin. But as a consumer of media, I feel (at times) burned out on a million-takes-a-day and annoyed by things written/published that probably should have remained a note in someone’s phone (okay fine, a Twitter thread.)

I want quality, not quantity. I don’t need bullet points or listicles. Keep the fluff; give me the real, the honest, the challenging, the funny, the beautiful. The good stuff.

Am I just fried on social media? Maybe. But after taking the month of December (mostly) off of the internet and instead digging into my journal, daily digesting Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost for His Highest,” and dwelling in scripture (peppered with many walks with the dog and movie nights with the fam and quiet moments of staring into the distance)…I thought I would return to the socials with a renewed vigor for broader conversation and reading/debate. Instead, the glaring amount of noise seemed to intensify.

Maybe it was the awkward timing of signing back into Twitter on the same day that the US killed one of our most notorious enemies (and therefore, set off a vigorous round of foreign policy disputes.) Maybe it was the mention of a well-known woman preacher AGAIN and rumblings of another round of Christian Twitter™ in-fighting rising AGAIN. Maybe it was just the mysterious pain in my knee making me cranky. Needless to say, there is a host of contributing factors.

And just for the record: I’m not saying that every post has to be a ThinkPiece. Some of the best writing that I come across on the interwebs a.) is about seemingly inconsequential things, b.) isn’t from my perspective/opinion, and/or c.) is presented in a less-than-traditional format. Good writing, on clear/coherent ideas, from an honest voice will go a long way. Sometimes five thousand words from an academic journal are appropriate; variously, a candid Insta-blog caption can be just as effective.

Even as I type this, I struggle with what I’m trying to communicate. WRITING IS HARD. What is my thesis here, today? Right now?

I think this is what I want to say to you –friends and foes alike– at the start of a fresh new year. If we are going to put “content” out into the world for consumption, let us try our very best to make it really great stuff. It is the right thing to do. For the sake of those that will generously give of their limited and precious time to read our words, let us think clearly, deeply, and honestly before we put fingers to keyboard. Let us pray to the maker and lover of our souls to guide our work. Let us be humble when we fall short, when we do wrong of others, when we waste time on saying things that don’t edify or exhort (forgive me if I have done any of these to you, dear reader.)

If we are searching for truth, let’s be honest about where we are; if we are extending a word of wisdom, let’s do it with compassion and humility. If we are going for funny, or practical, or helpful, or fantastical, or whatever we may be inclined to write and share…let’s give it our absolute all. As they say, let’s leave it all on the field.

To arrive at this place as writers, and as people, we must work out our junk in the secret places of our minds and hearts with the Lord before we “go and tell.”

Chambers writes,

“The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will before God, never first in the external world. The Spirit of God apprehends me and I am obliged to get alone with God and fight the battle out before Him…I must get the thing settled between myself and God in the secret places of my soul where no stranger intermeddles, and then I can go forth with the certainty that the battle is won.”

This is true of our work, as well. The writing that spills out of our fingertips must first go through the sieve of the Spirit. We won’t all be saying the same thing, in the same way, because the Lord has each of us in unique places for his purpose. There will be diversity and tension sometimes, and that’s okay. But the world has enough echoes of the trivial, the vulgar, and the miserable.

If we are to be writers worth our salt, let’s say something worthwhile. I hope that you will feel that your time spent here, reading these words, has been time well spent. If we’re all gonna set intentions for the new year, well, maybe this is mine. To go deeper with the Truth himself, to mature in my writing, and to bring you a message that is through him and for his namesake.

That’s the good stuff.

Published by Sara Beth Longenecker

Sara Beth Longenecker is a writer and blogger based in Nashville, TN. She helps women sort through the noise of our culture by bringing them truth, beauty, and everyday theology.

7 thoughts on “Why We Wrestle Before We Write

  1. Good stuff, Sara! I appreciate your writing so much because I know it won’t be a waste of time. Whether I read it as soon as you post it or just open it in a different window to save it for later I know I’ll enjoy it. I also appreciate the diversity of subjects.


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