aka: How To Blog Without Destroying Relationships and Being Excommunicated

Boom-goes-the-dynamitephoto © 2008 Aaron & Alli Merrell | more info (via: Wylio)

It was bound to happen. You can’t do anything for five years and not screw up, and blogs are no exception, especially when you write about faith and family, as I do.

I’ve posted things about my children that they would be embarrassed about – both photos and stories.

I’ve unnerved my husband and church with raw confessions of doubt and open questions about faith.

I’ve criticized or appeared to criticize my parents for their choices raising me (for the record, I love my parents dearly and not only did they do the best they could, but they did well).

I’ve stated personal preferences and choices without grace towards those who make different choices and prefer different things, often while criticizing them for being ungracious towards me (hypocritical much?).

Don’t get me wrong — not all of these are topics that should be off-limits. But many of them are like dynamite, requiring a delicate touch, light steps, and well-thought-out movements. My mistakes are often how I write, not what I write — I have too often thundered through with a bulldozer, uncaring about the explosions I’ve set off.

Those mistakes haven’t been total disasters. The process of making things right has sparked very fruitful conversations which enabled me to better understand the people in my life and helped them better understand me. It has also helped me grow in grace and mercy. There’s something deepening and strengthening about going to someone you’ve hurt, asking for forgiveness, and being forgiven.

But I would prefer we come to better understanding of one another without harsh words, hurt feelings, and painful confrontations.

So I’ve been working on some questions to ask of my posts before publishing them to my blog. I’m not consistent yet. I still sometimes forget to check all of them. When I do, I always hear about it. (I do appreciate the accountability, so thank you to those who have cared enough to call me on something.)

These are the questions I’m asking of posts before I publish:

  • Does my husband know this? Have we talked about it before I wrote this post? Is he ok with everything in it? (He rightly wants to be the first to know, since we’re supposed to be one flesh and all, and sometimes I have posted things that I haven’t shared with him first.)
  • If I name anyone else, do they know? Are they ok with it? (It’s only fair to run something by them before posting. It gives them a heads-up and gives me a chance to reword and edit so that we’re both comfortable with what is going out.)
  • How would I feel if my husband or children wrote something like this and shared it publicly? (Is this my story to tell, or someone else’s? Is it embarrassing? Could it come back to bite me or someone else later?)
  • How would I feel if my parents or in-laws wrote something like this and shared it publicly? (Am I gracious in the way I identify things that I perceive to be mistakes? Do I take responsibility for my own choices or do I try to blame-shift?)
  • Would I be comfortable reading this post verbatim in a small group at church? If not, why not? (The problem may not be the post itself, but an unresolved issue. However, blog posts can be a passive-aggressive [cowardly] way to deal with an issue that would be better handled in person.)
  • Is this something I know people will disagree with? Am I ready to respond with grace? If not, I need to wait and think it through more carefully.
  • Am I angry? (Don’t blog angry. Take some time to cool down and get your thoughts in order. Angry posts are often much too harsh or are a jumble of disorganized, albeit passionate, ideas.)

What do you think? What, if anything, should be off-limits for blogs? What should be treated as carefully as one would handle dynamite? What questions do you ask about your posts before you publish? What questions do you think people should ask themselves before they publish?

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